Ramesh, I wasn’t saying that the simple observation that the poor (defined, apparently, as nearly half the tax-filing population) already pay “payroll” taxes was boilerplate blather. Rather, it’s blather to say that because they pay into the Ponzi Scheme they should therefore be exempt from federal income taxes. The two issues — Congress’s power to tax under the 16th Amendment, and the New Deal “retirement” monstrosity — are conceptually unrelated.
Unless one wants them to be. I’ve noticed in some of the comments that the ol’ whipsaw is already in play here. First Social Security was an “insurance program,” then it was a “tax.” First you had a “trust fund,” then you had no fundamental right to your “earnings.” So which is it? Apparently, you can have it both ways, depending on which argument you’re making.
Further, it’s specious to imply that the half of taxpayers currently paying no income tax are therefore on the dole. Most of them earn something — so they should pay something. Further, I’m not arguing in favor of the Perry plan per se, as is clear from the column, but (within the stipulated context of the existence of an income tax) that real tax fairness demands that every American contribute. (I’m not quite at Starship Troopers level, but I’m getting there.) Right now we have what the Left so fervently desires — an us-against-them Tocquevillian nightmare that can only exacerbate the class warfare currently being whipped up in Washington.
If you want to make the argument that the income tax itself is a poor way to finance the federal government, whether economically or philosophically or both, I’m open to that. But it’s a different argument.