In an argument which would make his ex-NPR colleagues proud, Juan Williams took to Fox News Sunday to push for tax hikes to reduce the deficit. Scolding Brit Hume, an exasperated Williams contended: “You’re going on as if, ‘you know what, we don't know in America how to help our own deficit problems.’ We do. We just have to tax people.”
Moments before, in assessing Republican Congressman Paul Ryan’s expected plan on how to slow budget growth, Williams insisted “tax increases should not be off the table,” chastising Ryan for, during an interview with Chris Wallace earlier on the show, rejecting a tax increase: “I don't know why it is that he somehow suggests the rich in the country have no obligation to support the country.”
Of course, “the rich” already pay far more than their fair share.
In the latest year for which IRS data is available, 2008, “the top 1 percent of tax returns” – those earning over $380,000 -- “paid 38.0 percent of all federal individual income taxes and earned 20.0 percent of adjusted gross income,” the Tax Foundation’s Mark Robyn and Gerald Prante reported late last year. Robyn and Prante also noted: “The top 5 percent,” who made more than $159,000, “earned 34.7 percent of the nation's adjusted gross income, but paid approximately 58.7 percent of federal individual income taxes.”
From the April 3 Fox News Sunday:
JUAN WILLIAMS: Let me just say, tax increases should not be off the table. I don't know why it is that he somehow suggests the rich in the country have no obligation to support the country.
CHRIS WALLACE: I want to talk about politics of this because the Democrats, and you can certainly already see it if not from the President, from Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer in the Senate, they think that budget politics is going to work for them, that they’re going to be able to go out in 2012 – and that's exactly what Paul Ryan said – and say look at these Republicans they're going to take away your Medicare.
BRIT HUME: Throw momma from the train.
WALLACE: And they’re going to take away all the goodies that you have depended on. The counter-argument from Ryan is that we're in such trouble and the country has woken up to it, that being serious about the debt is actually good politics.
HUME: What the Democrats are likely to do has always worked. Always worked. The question is, in the aftermath of the 2010 election, is whether things are now different and whether the party that leads on trying to do something serious about this mammoth yawning deficit and debt that we face will win politically. I'm not sure. Look at Wisconsin where they passed this bill which will have a major effect on the budget in years to come. Labor fought it tooth and nail. Labor may end up winning a judgeship election out there to throw the judge in favor of the bill passed off the supreme court in favor of their own guy. Public opinion is mixed out there at best. Governors who have fought this issue on the budget have seen their popularity decline markedly. In some cases their popularity has recovered. But the indispensable ingredient was winning, in other words having the reforms, the proposals that cuts go into effect and benefits that flow there from become recognizable to the public. These House Republicans, they can't singlehandedly do that. All they can do is vote something and go as far as they can-
WILLIAMS: -succeeded in taking taxes completely off the table. Remember, Governor Walker out there cut taxes for the rich. Remember, that there’s been extension of the Bush tax cuts. And you’re going on as if, “you know what, we don't know in America how to help our own deficit problems.” We do. We just have to tax people.
HUME: Juan, what we need is not higher tax rate. What we need is higher revenue. How do you get higher revenues? You get higher revenues from an expanding economy. That's where the big money comes from.
WILLIAMS: GE paying no taxes. That’s good for America? C’mon, you know that's not right.
— Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.