Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Friedman: Tax The Poor

In his column in the NYT today, DNC lackey Thomas Friedman uses a hypothetical Democratic candidate to extol the virtues of putting a $1/gallon tax on gasoline immediately following 9/11:

I do favor a gasoline tax phased in over 12 months. But let’s get one thing straight: My opponent and I are both for a tax. I just prefer that my taxes go to the U.S. Treasury, and he’s ready to see his go to the Russian, Venezuelan, Saudi and Iranian treasuries. His tax finances people who hate us. Mine would offset some of our payroll taxes, pay down our deficit, strengthen our dollar, stimulate energy efficiency and shore up Social Security.

There are some serious problems with this rationale.

First, he assumes that this tax would offset the payroll taxes Americans pay. Since when does Congress lower one tax when raising another? While the "starve the beast" (cut revenues, expect lower spending) hypothesis seems to have fallen flat, I would bet that increasing the coffers of Congress would not inspire fiscal responsibility either.

Second, while rightfully blaming collusion in the oil markets on the OPEC cartel, he infers that they are using the post-9/11 world as an excuse. Hmm. I happened to take a tour of New Orleans last summer and saw an abandoned gas station with its gas prices from that fateful week in 2005 still posted. The price? $1.89/gallon. Friedman is apparently borrowing from Giuliani's play book by channeling 9/11 every time he decides he wants to make a point, whether it applies or not.

Finally, he neglects to mention that most of the income taxes are drawn from the highest incomes, not the lower classes. Thus, his argument is that we should punish poorer Americans so that the Treasury can benevolently redistribute their money to pay for Charlie Rangel's ego.

UPDATE: I shouldn't have said "DNC lackey." I had recently seen a pandering interview with fellow columnist Paul Krugman that attributed America's wealth to the central planning of FDR. Frankly, I confused the two in my mind. The rest of the piece still stands. mea culpa

1 comment:

Richard said...

You call Mr. Friedman a "DNC lackey," but I suspect I am the only Democratic candidate running for Congress (in AZ-06) who supports this kind of tax and the Democratic National Committee is not very pleased to see him say that Democrats should support this tax, which obviously will be less popular than Osama bin Ladin.

It can obviously be made less regressive through various means. But I don't think the brain-dead scared rabbits in my party will touch it with a ten-foot gas pump.