On April 15, we got another mean-spirited and factually misleading Millard Fillmore “comic” strip. “Every year,” pronounces the duck, “the percentage of Americans who pay no income tax grows as the tax burden on the rest of us increases.” Is the writer unaware, or is he deliberately ignoring, this fact: 40 percent in revenue paid to the federal government comes, not from income taxes that have diminished in importance, but from the payroll tax on earned income that has been steadily growing?
Is the duck also unaware of the economics, that 15 cents of every dollar of wages comes out of paychecks, including the meager paychecks of those breadwinners who work for poverty wages? Oh, but there is one big exception: wage income over $113,700 is exempt from the payroll tax, as is income from investments that pay no payroll tax whatever. In other words, the greater your investment income, the less you pay.
So why has the payroll tax been increasing as a share of federal revenue? Simply because that tax finances the federal programs that have been growing most rapidly, Social Security and Medicare. This is mainly because of our aging population and the expensive medical care we Americans demand. And, by the way, this federal spending provides a primary source of income for me and my relatively well-off friends who can afford to live here at Cottage Grove. Do you, my friends, find Millard Fillmore comforting? Chances are you are being misled.