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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Biden Bizarrely Claims That Government Spending Is Costless | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on October 10, 2021

In fact, in 2018, the top 1 percent of income earners (those earning $540,000 or more) paid more than 40 percent of all income taxes collected; the top 5 percent of income earners (those making $218,000 or more) paid 60.3 percent of all collected income taxes; the top 10 percent (those earning $152,000 or more) paid 71.4 percent of all income taxes; and the top 25 percent (those making $87,000 or more) paid 87 percent of all income taxes paid.

https://mises.org/wire/biden-bizarrely-claims-government-spending-costless

Richard M. Ebeling

There is only one way to describe the fiscal mindset of those in the White House and in Congress who are proposing new federal budgetary expenditure and taxing increases in the trillions of dollars: a fantasy land of financial irrationality.

The Biden administration insists on additions to the already bloated American welfare state that will see an expansion in entitlement programs and increased societal dependency on government largess not implemented since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs of the 1960s. But to show just how much Joe Biden’s mind seems to operate in some alternate universe, he has recently informed us that the $3.5 trillion of additional government spending over the next several years will cost “nothing.” 

Why nothing? Because over $2.1 trillion will be covered by taxing the rich and large corporations. The remaining difference between $3.5 trillion of greater spending and $2.1 trillion of increased taxes will materialize through some magic formula of government investing in infrastructure, alternative energy sources, and people.

Biden’s Hucksterism of Something for Nothing

Notice the rhetorical hucksterism. All of that additional spending won’t cost anything, because “you” are not being taxed to pay for it, and it will not result in any net increase in the national debt. It’s those others, you know, the millionaires and billionaires, who neither need all that money nor deserve it. You do, in the form of increased government redistribution.

You see, if you are not taxed to pay for it, and if it does not increase the debt, it is all, well, free goodies with other people’s money, other people who really don’t count or matter. How else do we interpret Joe Biden’s words at a recent White House event? “It is zero price tag,” he said, “on the debt we’re paying. We’re going to pay for everything we spend.” He went on to say, “Every time I hear this is going to cost A, B, C, D—the truth is, based on a commitment that I made, it’s going to cost nothing … because we are going to raise the revenue.”

This was clarified by White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates, “The bill’s price tag is $0 because it will be paid for by ending failed, special tax giveaways for the richest taxpayers and big corporations,” he said, “adding nothing to the debt.” Listening to the president and those around him, you would assume that “the rich” pay little or nothing, while the poor and the middle-class working population bear the brunt of all the good things that government paternalism does for all of us.

Those Who Bear the Tax Burden for Government Spending

In fact, in 2018, the top 1 percent of income earners (those earning $540,000 or more) paid more than 40 percent of all income taxes collected; the top 5 percent of income earners (those making $218,000 or more) paid 60.3 percent of all collected income taxes; the top 10 percent (those earning $152,000 or more) paid 71.4 percent of all income taxes; and the top 25 percent (those making $87,000 or more) paid 87 percent of all income taxes paid. The bottom 50 percent of all income earners (those earning $43,600 or less) paid less than 3 percent of all income taxes collected.

As for corporate taxes, the United States, currently, ranks as 13th in heavily taxing corporations, but if Biden’s tax plan were to be implemented, the corporate tax rate would rise from 21 percent to 26.5 percent at the federal level. But considering that state governments also tax corporations, these business enterprises would (depending on the state) have taxes anywhere between 30 percent and 35 percent. If this happens, the U.S, would rank third in the world in terms of corporate taxes, just behind Portugal and Columbia. 

In a new study, economists Daniel Mitchell and Robert P. O’Quinn estimated that the business tax effects of Biden’s plan would shift about 2 percent of the economy’s output into the hands of the government over several years, with an appreciable negative impact on private sector economic growth looking to the years ahead. They estimate a $3 trillion shortfall in national income from what it otherwise might have been over the next decade if Biden’s policies were not implemented.

A Philosophy of Plunder, Envy, and Paternalism

What is as disturbing as the possible economic impacts of these spending and taxing policies is the philosophy behind them. From Biden’s own mouth, the largess coming from government can be viewed as costless for those said to be the interest group beneficiaries, only as long as someone else can be made to pay the fiscal tab for it. This is an out-and-out politics of plunder, under which people may be promised practically anything, because the rich Peter will be taxed for the benefit of the deserving Paul.

The political paternalists always insist that those they designate as the rich do not really deserve or have a right to their higher incomes and wealth. First, this is because of the clear envy hidden behind the smoke screen of convoluted conceptions of equality. The mere having of more than others becomes a mark of social injustice.

Second, underlying this are forms of the Marxian and socialist presumptions that accumulated wealth and high income can have no origin other than by the exploitation and the oppression of others. If some have significantly more than others, there can be no rational reason for it other than it represents ill-gotten gains taken from others to whom it legitimately belongs. As a consequence, taking more of it away from the rich is merely—through the intermediation of the redistributing political authority—getting back what is rightfully due to those from whom it should never have been stolen in the first place under the capitalist system.

The only modern variation on this theme is that social classes in conflict with one another have been widened to incorporate a white, male, capitalist exploitation and oppression of all people of color, and female and related genders, along with the workers of all ethnicities and races. (See my article “Identity Politics and Systemic Racism Theory as the New Marxo-Nazism”.)

Biden’s Socialism Is of the Fascist Variation

It is noteworthy that when democratic socialists like Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are asked how much would be enough for the capitalist rich to pay their “fair share,” there is never a truly straight answer, other than implicitly a number approaching 100 percent. Biden, of course, has gone out of his way to insist that he is not a socialist.

But when your starting premise is that all good things come only through government planning, directing, and dictating, and that the resources and wealth of the entire country are at the discretionary disposal of those in political power who think like him, it is difficult not to view Biden as a central planner. And when central planning takes the form of government directly or indirectly commanding how those who own private businesses may go about their business in terms of what, how, where, and when to produce, employ, sell, and price what is being offered for sale, we end up with fascism.

When a president of the United States declares that he will use every political power at his disposal to compel as many people as possible to be vaccinated against a virus; when he insists that good citizenship requires every American to wear a facial mask, and pressures businesses to impose vaccine and masking rules on virtually every working American; when he commands that within a handful of years the majority of vehicles on the roads and highways of America must be powered and fueled a certain way, and threatens penalties if auto manufacturers do not comply with this demand; when he imposes retroactive regulatory rules and prohibitions on various forms of enterprise structures and market conduct through active antitrust enforcement; when he does these, and dozens more in a matter of a few months that he has been in office, one is reminded of Benito Mussolini’s description of the fascist, totalitarian system: “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”

Biden Gets Arrogantly Impatient with a World Not Obeying Him

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Contact Richard M. Ebeling

Richard M. Ebeling is the BB&T Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Free Enterprise Leadership at The Citadel.

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