During Sean Hannity's special last week, featuring Republican propagandist and professional turd-polisher Frank Luntz, South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint joined the show and took questions from Luntz and audience members in one of his focus groups.
During this segment DeMint repeated what has become one of the right's big lies they like to tell on taxes, that half of Americans don't pay any federal income tax, as though that's the only tax anyone pays.
This reminded me of an article I recently read at AlterNet where Joshua Holland did a nice job debunking that talking point last year.
Here’s how Fox Nation and the Drudge Report were fanning the flames of their readers’ simmering tribalism last week, courtesy of Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog:
Those banner headlines led to an AP story that might make wingnut blood boil, but was in reality about a rather irrelevant bit of Tax Day trivia:
Tax Day is a dreaded deadline for millions, but for nearly half of U.S. households it’s simply somebody else’s problem.
About 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability….
Many people continue to labor under the false belief that the United States has a progressive tax system.
Here’s the reality: after decades of assault on the taxes that fall disproportionately on the wealthy, we now have an effective flat tax.
Poor people in this country pay around 40 percent of their incomes in taxes, give or take 5 percent.
Rich people in this country also pay around 40 percent of their incomes in taxes, give or take 5 percent.
And folks in between pay around 40 percent of their incomes in taxes, give or take 5 percent.
The idea that most working people don’t pay taxes — an incredibly popular talking-point on the right — is the product of a rather easy-to-understand Big Lie.
You simply pretend that the most progressive tax in the United States, the federal income tax, is the only tax that Americans pay. You move the goal-posts, beginning the discussion with a statement of fact — ‘many people pay no federal income taxes’ — and then shifting to an egregious falsehood: ‘many people pay no taxes.’ It’s a simple but incredibly effective lie of omission.
Here are the facts (as I lay ‘em out in my upcoming book, The Fifteen Biggest Lies About the Economy (And Everything Else the Right Doesn’t Want You to Know about Taxes, Jobs, and Corporate America)).