Herman Cain today invites you to help him slay the Tax Monster with his 9-9-9*** tax plan. In a five-minute video, the narrator tells us that government gains an advantage by taxing you in ways you don’t notice. “That’s how the weasels that came up with paycheck withholding have been able to deceive an entire generation into thinking it’s the government’s money to begin with,” the speaker says.
The first of those “weasels,” as the Cain campaign calls them, would be President Abraham Lincoln and the U.S. Congress. President Lincoln signed the Revenue Act of 1862 to pay for the Civil War; the law included a requirement that employers take out taxes.
The idea of withholding came around again during World War II, with the Current Tax Payment Act. For reasons that are kind of complicated to explain, the idea of starting withholding came with a debate over how to avoid double-payment of taxes. Republicans argued for a full year’s tax forgiveness; Democrats said the abatement would amount to a special boon for the rich, who owed more. Tax History notes this from Senator Homer T. Bone (D-Washington):
“If I could abate any of the blood and tears and agony of the boys dying on the battlefields, if I could abate one little bit of the horror facing young men marching under the American flag into this world conflict, I would abate the horror coming to them, rather than abate a year’s taxes for us who stay at home. I wish I could vote to abate blindness and insanity and vote away the blasting of boys’ lives by shells on the battle fronts. But we cannot do that. All we can do is abate the tax on some fellow’s income. The whole thing represents a grotesque twist of logic. It is a sort of madness.”
I don’t know whether that would make Senator Bone one of Herman Cain’s weasels, but I have to think he’s on the list along with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the other Democrats in Congress.