Tax Cuts Won't Help You, but a Wage Increase Will

This should be the new Democratic talking point about tax cuts:

We need to change the thinking. Taxes are not too high. Incomes are too low. If you are having problems paying your taxes then you need a raise, not a tax cut. Democrats need to practice this response to anyone talking about tax cuts. The sooner Republicans realize that talking about tax cuts leads people to want and think they deserve a raise, the sooner they will stop talking about them and we can have some sanity in our economic discussions.

I like this, since it mirrors my experience.

Really long-time readers will remember when I was a young Mad Biologist, I had the distinct pleasure of forking over thirty five percent of my pre-tax income for the privilege of living about 75 yards from the LIRR (I bet you didn't know it runs 24 hours a day. It does).

What I really needed wasn't a tax cut. Not that I wouldn't take the money: as my Uncle Harry used to say, rich or poor, it's always good to have money.

But, since I didn't have a lot of money, cutting my taxes wouldn't mean that much. And I knew that lower taxes would mean that the already-decrepit Suffolk County (NY) roads would only get worse (more front-end alignments! Yay!). It would mean fewer library hours and books--and when you don't have a lot of money, free libraries do matter. Beaches and parks wouldn't be maintained, and so on.

What I really needed was a salary increase, especially since being a graduate student, followed by a post-doc in a high income area was not....conducive to a life of comfort. And when I switched jobs, increased my salary dramatically, my quality of life and financial security, such as it is, improved dramatically. Another job switch--with a higher salary--and I really can't complain (besides, I wouldn't have made through years of being a grad student and post-doc if having lots of stuff was really important to me; I live frugally).

The larger issue, as stated in the citation above, is that income inequality is skyrocketing--and that's money that not being paid to you. Instead, shareholders and company owners are pocketing it (never any Marxists around when you need them...).

That's why rephrasing this as a problem of pre-tax income is very smart--it puts conservatives on the defensive. Make them argue why more profits shouldn't go to workers. That would be fun to see...

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Years ago, my brother tried to convince me that I should favor tax cuts. I told him that they could reduce my taxes to zero, and it wouldn't make up for what I lost to inflation after the Alzheimer's President fired the air traffic controllers and unions lost their nerve.

If I had simply kept up with inflation, I would have retired at $28 an hour instead of the $14 I was making. And that's based on starting wages, not an adjustment of top wage.

I make this argument about our faculty union's contract negotiations all the time.

Our system is comprised of 14 campuses; my campus is in most expensive area of any. For some of our colleagues in rural PA, a mid-scale salary is nearly royalty-wage.

Many of my colleagues have argued that we should be asking for differential pay, scaled to cost of living. I hate the idea for any number of reasons; most germane to this conversation, I hate it because the real answer is just to pay everybody better. I don't care if my colleagues in Shippensburg can buy acreage with the same salary that only pays my rent on a 2br apartment--as long as I can safely pay the rent.

And yes, all the "capitalists" who don't understand that the system stops working (for a given value of "working," that is) when the owner-class simply pockets the money are stupid.

Wasn't that the point of "trickle down" Reganomics? That the big tax cuts to businesses was suppose to create higher saleries and more jobs? Funny how it didn't happen that way.