Friday, April 16, 2010

Social Security: It's a Candy Mint! It's a Breath Mint!

Bruce Bartlett complains that most Americans overestimate how much they pay in Federal income tax. His commentators are giving him a hard time for not considering Social Security taxes; when you include them, it is said, most people's estimates are pretty accurate.

I think part of the confusion here is the ambivalent nature of the Federal income tax. It's an issue on which both liberals and conservatives like to have it both ways. Liberals like to call it a tax when they talk about regressivity, but they know they have to down-pedal the fact that it redistributes income. Conservatives like to hoist liberals on their own petard. Conservatives don't like it as welfare but they get more mileage pretending it is just an investment pool. It's a floor wax and a dessert topping, as candy mint and a breath mint!

No comments: