Senior White House adviser David Plouffe was out there making the rounds this Sunday, defending President Obama's deficit reduction plan which has Republicans up in arms because he's dared to suggest that the rich should be paying more in taxes. During Plouffe's interview on Fox News Sunday, Wallace did his best to play concern troll for the wealthiest among us, trotting out some of the same tired talking points we've been hearing from Republicans, and repeated constantly on Fox, for some time now.
Chris Hayes debunked one of them this weekend on his show that Nicole wrote about here -- Chris Hayes: Welcome To Inequalistan!:
No sophomore slump for the second weekend of Up with Chris Hayes. On Saturday, Hayes took on the ever-present, but disingenuous, conservative talking point that the top ten percent of income earners pay seventy percent of income taxes. [...]
Nothing says "patriotic American" more than defending the super-rich from a three percent hike to pre-Bush tax levels:
You have to hand it to Brooks--he has a flair for turning reality upside down that George Orwell would admire.
The wealthiest 10 percent pay nearly 70 percent of all income taxes in this country because they make more than 70 percent of all the income! Check out Mother Jones charts on skyrocketing income inequality in America.
Over the last decade, as incomes for the very wealthy have soared, their tax rates have fallen. That 31 percent Brooks grouses about is considerably lower than the 37 percent they paid when they controlled less of the nation's money than they do now.
And Paul Krugman debunked the other as Susie noted in her post here -- Let's Look At Class Warfare and The 51% Who 'Don't Pay Any Taxes".
Plouffe did a decent job of pushing back at Wallace's rhetoric, but heaven forbid he was going to let a few facts get in the way of his talking points.
Transcript below the fold.
WALLACE: I want to focus today on what President Obama has said and what he's doing, whether he's living up to his rhetoric.
And let's begin with what he said about raising taxes two years ago. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The last thing you want to do is raise taxes in the middle of the recession because that would just suck up and take more demand out of the economy and put businesses in a further hole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Question -- if the president believes what he said on that two years ago, why is he proposing huge tax increases in the midst of what is a very close to a recession?
PLOUFFE: Well, let's first talk about what the president wants to do is cut taxes for just about everybody in America. His plan would give the average middle person $1,500, cut taxes for small business owner. So, all we're talking about here is people at the very income spectrum.
Now, the president would like to do tax reform, which would obviously lower rates for most people in America and make the tax code fair and get rid of loopholes and special treatment. But absent tax reform, the president believe the right way to get our fiscal house in order is ask the wealthy to pay their fair share. But he is going to continue, as he has throughout his presidency, push to cut taxes for the middle class folks so that they obviously can weather this economy turn better, but also allows them to help the economy by being able to consume more.
WALLACE: But, Mr. Plouffe, what you are talking about $200 billion in tax cuts that end in the next 15 months. You're talking about $2 trillion in tax increases that will go on for next decade. Between his jobs plan -- and I want to break this down because it's important -- between his jobs plan and cutting the deficit, the president wants $1.5 trillion in new taxes over the next decade.
Let's put it up on the screen -- letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire, $866 billion; limiting the deductions for families making $250,000 a year, $410 billion; closing loopholes and tax breaks, $300 billion. And on top of that -- on top of that, $1.5 trillion, another $500 billion in new taxes to pay for Obamacare, for a total of $2 trillion.
Again, let's go back to what the president said two years ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: That would just suck up and take more demand out of the economy and put businesses in a further hole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: He said raising taxes. He wasn't talking about raising taxes on the middle, wealthy or whatever. He said raising taxes will take demand out of the economy and put businesses on the hole. Was he right then or is he right now? Because he can't be both.
PLOUFFE: Well, first of all, in his plan, there would be no tax increases on the wealthy, closing corporate loopholes until 2013, just as we have to make sure the spending cuts are done carefully, over time we do the same thing with revenue.
But, again, we have to reduce the deficits. You know, these are choices we have to make as a country. So, if we all we have to reduce the deficit by about $4 trillion, we're going to cut education by a third, ask seniors to $6,000 more in Medicare to pay $200,000 tax cuts for the millionaires. That's what, you know, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry and all the congressional leaders want to do.
Or are we doing spending cuts and ask the wealthy to pay their fair share?
PLOUFFE: So, this is the right approach to the country. And the vast majority of the people, the job creators, the small business owners, they're going to get tax cuts. President cut 15 taxes for them over the course of two years roughly. And he wants to do more. Every middle class family, $1,500 tax cut.
So, this is significant tax relief for just about everybody in the country.
WALLACE: But two problems it seems to with what -- with what you say. First of all, you say, well, this isn't going to happen until 2013. I know the politicians here in town and on the Republican campaign trail, all they're thinking about is November of 2012.
But if you are businessman, you are thinking five years down the road, 10 years down the road. So, the idea, well, I may get a $1,000 tax cut in 2012, but I'm going to get $2 trillion of tax increases over the next decade doesn't -- isn't likely to make them go out and hire more people.
I also want to get back to this issue of fair share, which you keep talking about. Put it up on the screen. According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, the 1 percent of households with the highest incomes pay 38 percent of federal income taxes. The top 10 percent pay 70 percent of federal income taxes. Meanwhile, 46 percent of households pay no federal income tax at all.
And the president thinks that the wealthy aren't paying the fair share?
PLOUFFE: Listen, you can manipulate statistics in any way you want. The fact of the matter is 22,000 people --
WALLACE: Wait, wait -- you don't think that top 10 percent households are paying 70 percent of taxes?
PLOUFFE: Well, they are making a ton of money. Twenty-two thousand people --
WALLACE: But they're paying 70 percent of the taxes.
PLOUFFE: Twenty-two millionaires pay less effective tax rate, under 15 percent. So, we have inequities. The American people are screaming out saying it's unfair that the wealthiest, the largest corporations who can afford the best attorneys, the best accountants, take advantage of these special tax treatments that the lobbyist have, along with lawmakers, have cooked in the books here. So, the question is: how are we going to move forward as a country? Are we going to, yes, do some spending cuts that don't gutter our ability to do things like education and innovation? And are we going to ask the wealthiest to pay a little bit more? All we're talking about is going back to the rates --
WALLACE: Because 70 percent isn't enough?
PLOUFFE: Well, again, they make a ton of money. That statistic, it's a question --
WALLACE: And they pay a ton of taxes.
PLOUFFE: Well, they do. The question is, in raw deals.
WALLACE: They pay more than a ton.
PLOUFFE: In raw. The question is, from a percentage standpoint, they are paying less effective tax rate as Warren Buffett was saying --
WALLACE: That is not -- it is not true.
PLOUFFE: Twenty-two thousand --
WALLACE: There may be a certain number. You talk about being able to manipulate the numbers. The fact is, people at the highest end pay the highest percentage of taxes. They're paying a higher percentage than middle class people are. It is an effective tax rate.
PLOUFFE: You think the middle class should pay more? Because that's what the Republican congressional plan is and the plan that Rick Perry and Mitt Romney --
WALLACE: Well, some of them say cut spending. And I want to talk to you about that -- that's out of the equation, if I may.
PLOUFFE: We agree with you. It's balanced.