It should be established Republican doctrine that everyone is paying too much in taxes from top to bottom and the only way we can truly reverse our nation’s fiscal trajectory of doom is to dramatically cut spending. This has been true for decades and in our current situation of massive inflation, it doesn’t make sense to say the middle class needs to “pay their fair share.”
Unfortunately, the powerful GOP Establishment in Ohio is pushing forward a U.S. Senate candidate who says just that. He’s everything bad about Mitt Romney, which is pretty much everything about Mitt Romney.
Mike Gibbons wants to be the next Mitt Romney. Watch:
Ohio GOP Senate candidate Mike Gibbons on a Crain’s Cleveland Business podcast:
“The top 20% of earners in the U.S. pay 82% of federal income tax — and, you do the math, and 45% to 50% don’t pay any income tax… The middle class is not really paying any kind of a fair share.” pic.twitter.com/VUYzPTlqmX
— Heartland Signal (@HeartlandSignal) April 8, 2022
Let’s ignore the notion that Gibbons comes across as extraordinarily unlikeable. The words themselves are atrocious and will not appeal to either the tax-the-rich-to-oblivion left or the tax-cutters on the right. It’s unclear who Gibbons is even appealing to in this discussion. Perhaps he’s going for those in poverty by saying everyone who pays taxes should pay more taxes, other than the ultra wealthy.
Regardless of his reasoning for torching his campaign, it’s a bad look for the GOP Establishment. As Bonchie at RedState noted:
How, in this day and age, can a Republican candidate still be unaware of what year it is? Right now, the middle class is getting absolutely toasted by inflation, and a leading GOP candidate for the Senate thinks now is a good time to riff on the unfairness of our tax system to millionaires and billionaires?
And look, I get that he’s kind of half-right in a technical sense. It is true that the highest wage earners pay most of the federal income taxes. Yet, the middle-class pays FICA taxes. They pay sales taxes. They pay state income tax. They pay the gas tax every time they fill up. Insinuating they aren’t “paying their fair share” is misleading at best.
Secondly, the statistics say that the middle-class pay, on average, around 8 percent of their earnings in federal income tax. That is not zero, as Gibbons insinuates. Heck, I’m middle-class and I’m about to write a $15,000 check to the IRS — despite paying a hefty amount into the system every month (i.e. my overall bill is even bigger than that). I’m sure most people reading this are middle-class and owe money, or that their refund doesn’t fully offset what they paid to the government throughout the year.
Thirdly, Gibbons’ statement makes does not account for the differences in capital gains tax rates and income tax rates. Most of the richest Americans make most of their money through investments after a certain threshold. That means that when you consider everything the wealthy bring in compared to their effective tax rate, the rich pay about the same percentage of their money into the system as the middle class. Now, I’m not suggesting the capital gains tax should be increased, and I understand how important spurning investment is to the economy. But I am suggesting the assertion that the rich are deeply abused when it comes to the overall tax structure just isn’t true.
Lastly, putting all the technical arguments aside, going after the middle-class in the current environment is just politically inept. Gibbons himself is, of course, a very wealthy man, which explains why he’d be stupid enough to even get into this topic. Still, any GOP candidate needs to have enough of a filter to not set themselves on fire. Even if Gibbons, because of early voting, ends up winning the primary, he’s now made himself a liability not just in his own race, but to other Republican candidates around the country.
The worst part about all this is that with early voting starting in Ohio, polls show Gibbons leading. I have not endorsed a candidate for the primary because I’ve only spoken to one of them so far, but I can say with a certainty that I won’t be endorsing Gibbons.
Republicans in Ohio need to recognize that Mike Gibbons can only marginally wear the “GOP” badge because he’s not a full-blown leftist. We need fewer people like Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski, not more.