Compared to the rest of the industrialized world, the tax burden of the United States is rather low. (Though it may not feel like that when you owe the IRS gobs of money on your April 15 tax returns.)
msnbc's Lawrence O'Donnell broke down the common Republican line on U.S. taxes in his Rewrite segment on Tuesday.
“The reason Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist stay in this country and fight for lower taxation is there is not one lower-taxed country in the world that they would rather live in,” said O’Donnell. “They are living in the world's biggest tax haven: the United States of America.”
He compared what Americans pay to what British pay in light of Republicans “worshipping at the feet of Margaret Thatcher” after the former prime minister’s death this week.
“The Commander-in-Chief of the anti-tax party, Grover Norquist, leads every Republican in the constant chant that the United States is just drowning in taxation--that we can't possibly be competitive in the world with such a harsh tax burden weighing down on this country,” said O’Donnell. These are the same people who have been praising Thatcher’s leadership, “many of them say she was even stronger and tougher than their much mythologized Ronald Reagan.”
O’Donnell reminded viewers Thatcher was a fiscal conservative by British standards, but she also “stood far to the left of any American president and any American politician” for her record on taxes. She kept a top income tax rate of 60% for 10 of her 11 years in office (20 points higher than the top income tax rate under President Clinton and President Obama); she raised taxes on lower incomes and doubled the national sales tax, which hits low income people the hardest; “she pushed her country's tax regime in a progressive direction, but she maintained an extremely high overall tax burden on the United Kingdom.”
The Last Word said all these taxes helped pay for “an awful lot of expensive socialism...which she had no intention of eliminating”: universal health care.
Thirty-one countries actually have a higher tax burden than the United States. “As you sweat through the complexities of your tax returns... know that the good news is you are living in a country with a very low tax burden,” O’Donnell concluded. “And the bad news is, because of that low tax burden, you are living in a country where good, deserving people who need government's help continue to suffer. They suffer deprivations that are unthinkable in the United Kingdom in Margaret Thatcher's time or in our time.