Class Warfare

Rep. Earl Ehrhart has accused me of playing class warfare. Why? Well, he and Glenn Richardson say that the GREAT plan would be revenue neutral in the first year. I say if a plan is revenue neutral that means that some people will be paying more and some people will be paying less. Apparently multiplication, division, addition and subtraction have class biases. Who knew?

Anyway, I propose a very simple test and Rep. Ehrhart can tell me whether it is class warfare or not. I will divide Georgians into two classes: The “Earl Ehrharts” and the “Earl Ehrharts Not”, similar to the haves and the have nots that you sometimes hear about.

This year, according to publicly available Cobb County Tax Records, the “Earl Ehrharts” owe $3,815.39 in property taxes. The Nots owe a lot more in additional taxes. Together these two classes pay the total property taxes for the state. If this system is replaced by the GREAT Plan, three things are possible:

1. Both the Earl Ehrharts and the not Earl Ehrharts (this is a hard name to type) will pay the exact same amount of taxes under the GREAT plan that they do now.
2. The Earl Ehrharts will pay more in GREAT taxes, the not Earl Ehrhart’s will pay less.
3. The Earl Ehrharts will pay less in GREAT taxes, everyone else will pay more than they currently do.

In the GREAT plan, the Earl Ehrharts would pay 4% for every good or service purchased to the state. In order for the not Earl Ehrharts to pay less as a class than they do now, the Earl Ehrhart class will need to purchase goods or services greater than $95,384.75. If Earl Ehrhart spends less than $95,384.75 on goods and services in a year, he will be paying less in taxes and in order for the GREAT plan to remain revenue neutral, which like all good Republican tax fantasies the GREAT plan promises to do, everyone who is not Earl Ehrhart will be paying more.

In the interest of fair disclosure, I pay $2,000.94 in property taxes this year. That means I’d have to purchase $50,023.50 of goods and services (and not on the used market) in order to pay the same amount in GREAT taxes as I do in property taxes. I am positive I don’t spend that much in a year on non-housing costs. Therefore, it appears that both Chris Huttman and Earl Ehrhart will be paying less in GREAT taxes than we currently do in property taxes. Since the plan will be revenue neutral, some other suckers out there are getting a tax increase to finance my tax cut. Thanks Earl! And sorry, suckers!

49 comments

  1. Bill Simon says:

    Fairness is the point, Chris. If some people are not paying their fair share now, then they will pay their fair share later.

    Coulda sworn you lefties were ALL about “fairness.” Or, is it that you are not interested in equal/fair opportunity, but ONLY equal/fair outcomes?

  2. Mad Dog says:

    Chrishardcore,

    Some hardcore numbers for emptyhart.

    Baker County spends $12,419.65 per student per year in the public schools.

    Now I had three kids go through public schools. That would a total expenditure of $12,419.65 times 3 times 12 years.

    So somebody has to pay $447,107.40 for a basic education.

    How exactly is Earl going to collect that from me?

    Revenue neutral means nothing.

    MD

  3. eehrhart says:

    Chris,

    You really do make my laundry night great fun! Washing kid clothes while reading your diatribe about me is real entertainment.

    I am truly glad I inspire you to such literary constructions as the “not Earl’s” Is that copywrite ?

  4. eehrhart says:

    Thanks Mad Dog……..that money comes from those socialists under the Gold Dome who cant be trusted with sending money to the local areas.

    Imagine that…… perhaps we really do send money to the local areas.

  5. eehrhart says:

    It seems, Mad Dog that you actually collect that from me and other Cobb taxpayers, as Cobb County sends over 100 million into the redistributive pot to subsidize your kids education.

    Hmmmmm do you do that for mine?

  6. dorian says:

    I think Chris is missing the point entirely. See, investment property suddenly becomes a lot more lucrative in this state with no property taxes. That is the point, their property is now worth more than comparative property in other states that do have property taxes. In fact, I would imagine the value of property in the state overall will increase, which is fortunate since it will likely take decades for the middle class to recover from this catastrophe, and we will need to sell our land and move somewhere else anyway.

  7. Mad Dog says:

    Earl,

    Actually, I was baiting you into shooting off your mouth and showing how little you know about government expenditure.

    To properly match the expenditure to the benefit, the recipient is not me but the child in school.

    That can be demostrated very clearly.

    No matter how many kids you send to school, you’ll never get any smarter.

  8. eehrhart says:

    Oh I see mad dog….you say something that is not true and I catch you at it…….and then you have no argument so you call me names.

    Brilliant debate ploy!

  9. ToddH says:

    I can’t believe this guy is a state rep. I’m sure the people in that district are proud. How old is he, 12? What’s….with…all….the….ellipses?

  10. dorian says:

    Oh, I dunno? On the one hand, I commend the representative for participating in the dialog about the tax plan. There aren’t many who would. On the other hand, I am sure he gets frustrated, because every time it is mentioned on this web site, it gets blasted out of the water. All these people they “polled” that support it, where are they exactly? The repulicans should’ve been taking notes when the teachers’ union ousted Barnes. Heck, I even read the AARP is against this plan. Funny, you put all these “special interests” groups that oppose this together and you know what constituents you are left with? None. Try to remember that in November boys. You work for us and not for Glenn.

  11. Earl, it’s a simple yes or no answer. If the plan is revenue neutral, do you predict that you (or me) will end up paying more, less or the same in GREAT taxes as we pay in property taxes?

    The above numbers (at least for me) look like I will be paying less. That means someone out there (or everyone who is not me, or everyone who is not like me ie in a different ‘class’/’subset’/’cohort’ whatever you want to call it) will be paying more to keep the revenues neutral and equal to what they were before.

  12. BubbaRich says:

    I have heard the same thing about the “revenue neutral” FairTax.org plan. They had a sample calculator on their website, and for nearly all numbers you made up for the calculator, representing various income classes, you paid less money in taxes.

    Usually when they get down to real numbers for “revenue neutral,” they are talking hopefully about long-term trends they hope will follow the introduction of their tax plan. But it definitely seems to immediately cut the tax payments of the people pushing the plan.

  13. It’s amazing. Republicans used to want to cut taxes and reduce spending overall. Now they want to keep revenue neutral, so they really don’t want to cut taxes. Or do they? Well, the truth is they want to cut taxes for some people (the people they care about and that vote for them) and they could care less if those that don’t have their burden raised to subsidize the targeted cuts.

    It’s so simple. If you live in an expensive house in a county that has good schools, you pay a lot in taxes. Getting rid of property taxes and transferring it elsewhere means someone else will pay more instead, or services will be drastically cut. So simple.

    Call it class warfare if you want, just don’t call it a lie.

  14. ToddH says:

    ee,

    Get it right, I didn’t call you name. I simply asked how old you were. Are you suffering from a martyr complex?

  15. Is it just me, or are “revenue neutral” and “taxpayer neutral” different things? Revenue neutral applies to the total amount of state revenue, and just because I and everyone I know will pay less in taxes overall, doesn’t necessarily mean the state will get less. They might, if everyone is a tightwad AND a property owner -as both hardcore and Earl are, but the sales taxes on services might make up the difference. (Don’t know, haven’t read the proposal, am not making assertions.)

    Any idea that starts out with getting rid of property taxes (paid Fulton and DeKalb taxes all my property-owning life) is a good one, and deserves more consideration.

  16. Chris, I have to add: I’d be very happy if this plan was not revenue neutral, and the State ended up with less money. In fact, that would make me happier than if it were revenue neutral.

  17. Well Mike, ultimately that is probably what their plan will lead to, at least for you, me and Earl (see the “class” is getting larger by the minute, why are you so intent on playing this warfare!!!).

    Unfortunately for them, “Would you support a plan that re-arranges tax revenue in Georgia leading to drastic cuts in school spending” does not poll well. Apparently though, “Hey do you want to get rid of property taxes and we promise schools will still get all the money they currently get” does though.

    Of course, “Would you like a free ice cream sandwich from the government” also polls pretty well, and I expect that will be put on the ballot as a constitutional amendment as well.

  18. jsm says:

    No one seems to want to debate this on principle regarding method of taxation. No person should be taxed based on what he owns. Taxation should be related to income.

    If we were to debate revenue collection for the State starting with a blank slate, rather than comparing to the current system, the debate would sound totally different.

    In some minds, adding taxation to the lower class is bad no matter how low their taxes are. Same for lowering taxes for the upper class no matter how high they are. This is truly irrelevant to the current proposal. We need to wipe the tax slate clean and start over. Then we can judge what is right and what is fair, rather than trying to do so comparing to the current jacked up system.

  19. rugby_fan says:

    “I am sure he gets frustrated, because every time it is mentioned on this web site, it gets blasted out of the water”.

    Perhaps that is because its an awful policy.

  20. BubbaRich says:

    jsm, you said:

    > No one seems to want to debate this on
    > principle regarding method of taxation. No
    > person should be taxed based on what he
    > owns.
    > Taxation should be related to income.

    Can you defend this based on some principle? I’m not against this idea, but I think it’s probably arbitrary, not a moral position like you make it to be.

  21. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    Bubba and JSM, if you live in an area with low property tax rates, like I do, wouldn’t you prefer to pay the low property taxes rather than get nickled and dimed to death by the higher sales tax in place of the prop. tax? And don’t forget, my property tax is also tax deductible.

  22. Mike, a little background on my “revenue neutral” argument with Earl. He claims the GREAT plan will be revenue neutral, ie all the money that the state loses in property taxes will be made up for by some other set of taxes.

    I merely point out that in any tax debate, there are winners and losers. Sometimes, when overall taxes are cut there are only winners. And sometimes, when overall taxes are raised, there are only losers.

    But, by attempting to build support for their plan by claiming that it is revenue neutral to the government, I am merely showing that if some people like Earl Ehrhart will be paying less in taxes (there is no way he spends close to $100,000 on goods and services in the average year) others will by definition be paying more.

    Earl accuses me of playing class warfare. I am merely trying to illustrate that Earl and other wealthy homeowners (myself included even) will most likely be paying less in taxes. Which means those who aren’t in that group will be paying more.

    Since Earl and Glenn further say that services won’t be affected, it doesn’t seem fair to me that non home owners (renters, the poor) will essentially be getting a huge tax increase in order to maintain the level of services they currently get from their local governments.

    Obviously, it will not be neutral on a personal basis. If this plan passes, I predict that both Earl and I and many other Georgians will pay less in taxes. By definition, if the plan is overall revenue neutral, if some Georgians are paying less personally, some will be paying more.

    To respond to JSM, if you had to get rid of the property tax, I think the fairest way to supplement that money would be through an income tax, not a consumption tax. Millions of Boortz listeners will no doubt disagree with me but they are either misled into thinking that they will personally benefit from the Scientology Tax scheme or are greedy enough not to care and just admit it.

  23. LoyaltyIsMyHonor says:

    “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”

    ….oooops, house, that is…if you want to benefit from the “GREAT” plan.

  24. dorian says:

    Look, statistics show that more rapes occur in summer months than during the winter. Most of those happen in a residental dwelling, and most of the dwellings have air conditioners. So, there is a link between living in a home with air conditioning and being raped, even though the two have nothing to do with each other.

    Here, you have the elimination of property taxes tied to an idea of, in the case of my objection, consolidating power in the hands of the state government. They may be two completely different ideas, but they are linked even though there may be other alternatives to property taxes. My personal objection to the form of the alternative is anecodtal compared to my strenous objection to having Georgia turn into a ogliocracy in Atlanta.

    The legislature can’t even agree on a budget, among themselves, in their own durn party, and we are seriously thinking handing over every cent of revenue for every level of government? The fact that people can debate this with a straight face just shows that the majority of the republicans in the house evolved from lemmings. If they want to follow Glenn over the cliff that is fine, but for the love of God, they ought not be able to take the whole state with them.

  25. You make a good point. Putting all of the money into Atlanta and then letting them decide where to send it too does not sound like a great idea. It’s kind of like us sending all of our money to Washington and then letting them decide where to send the money too, oh, we already do that and it doesn’t work that well.

    So, is there a solution to the problem? Since it is supposed to be revenue neutral how would it work if county and school property taxes were eliminated and then the county had a local sales tax that stayed in the county. Hmm, then connecting counties could supplement income by lowering their tax rate and attracting consumers from neighboring counties which would force them to increase their rates even more producing a never ending cycle.

  26. Doug Deal says:

    Ray,

    If a county was losing revenue because their taxes are too high, you believe that they would RAISE the tax rate?

    In any event, why would anyone travel 30 miles to save a percent or sales taxes? It’s like traveling acorss town and back to save 10 cents a gallon on fuel. You spend $5 on gas to save $1 on a $100 purchase, or spend $3 to save $1.50 on gas.

  27. jsm says:

    Bubba,

    I’m not trying to make a necessarily “moral” argument. I just don’t believe I should be taxed for owning something after I have paid state and federal tax on the income I used to pay for it. I also don’t believe that someone who owns property should lose it if/when their income drops due to sickness or old age.

    In essence, property tax takes away ownership rights and makes the local government owner of all property. To me, that is wrong in principle.

    That said, I don’t support the idea of sending sales tax to Atlanta to be re-distributed. I believe a common sense plan can be developed so that sales tax money is collected locally and stays home. The tax commissioner’s job would just have to change drastically.

  28. AlanR says:

    Dorian makes an important point. One of the few good things about property tax, the best worst system, is that it is very stable year to year. Values go up and down, sometime rapidly, but overall it is a very stable system.

    In a consumption or income based system, we are only one recession away from drastic cuts in service or drastic increases in taxes.

    Does anyone want to rely on the state legislature — either party — when the economy slows and revenue neutral becomes revenue lost?

  29. For the sake of arguement Doug lets take 2 rural counties, Brantly and Ware. Now as a part-time homeowner in Brantly I do my shopping at the Wally World in Ware. There is nowhere other than a dollar store to shop in Brantly county so the tax revenue would be basically nill. If Brantly had to rely on the sales tax alone the rate would be in double digits. Obviously there would be even more incentive for people to shop in Ware county OR there would be an incentive for businesses to come into Brantly. Unfortunately there is not a big enough base to warrant big business so the small rural counties would be screwed.

    I know of plenty of people that come to Chatham county from other counties so that they can shop at Sams. Once again, large counties would get revenue from outside their counties.

    I am not opposed to a simple tax rate as a revenue source but dorian brings up an excellent point. If all tax revenues bypass the cities and counties and go straight to the state we have to rely on the state spending the money “wisely” and since there are a lot of politicians that answer to people like Federalist, I’m not sure they would be doing the best thing with our money.

  30. A good point Alan but isn’t it interesting how in a recession or “bad” times the working people are expected to cut back on going out, be more energy effecient, scale down vacations, basically be forced to be fiscally responsible but the government can keep spending (providing services) at the same pace.

  31. BubbaRich says:

    Which services should the government stop providing, Raymond? There are a few, I grant you, but for most they are necessary services, and cutting them would either hurt somebody (veterans’ benefits, frex) or hurt a potential economic recovery (road repair).

  32. Mad Dog says:

    So ee opted out of the conversation?

    After bragging about Cobb County and the money he spends to educate ‘my kids,’ he should have had the good manners to have stayed for the duration.

    Let’s start looking at revelant facts. Not just facts. That’s always the problem with the ‘honorable’ members of the GOP assembly. They don’t know the difference between facts and relevant facts.

    “It seems, Mad Dog that you actually collect that from me and other Cobb taxpayers, as Cobb County sends over 100 million into the redistributive pot to subsidize your kids education.

    Hmmmmm do you do that for mine?”

    As I’ve said, no matter how many children the ‘Honorable’ Earl sends to school, he’ll never get any smarter.

    Cobb County school systems received a total of $356,678,891.12 in state revenues in 2006.

    It would seem I’m doing more to send Earl’s kids to school than he is doing.

    The information is from the Georgia Department of Education.

    MD

  33. Mad Dog says:

    So no one in Cobb County wants to brag about only paying half of their child’s school tuition through property taxes?

    Not even the ‘honorable’ Representative Earl Ehrhart?

    Loose your tongue, Earl?

    Saving your breath for when you have to explain to your Cobb County constituents that their school system is $356 million dollars short in revenue?

    So how much money is the General Assembly planning on cutting from Cobb County’s $800 million dollar school budget when the GREAT thingie gets done?

    Well, Earl?

  34. eehrhart says:

    Mad dog can you make an argument without being insulting? It would really help your case and lend some credibility.

    The fact is that Cobb and other large counties send more money to the state to be redistributed for education. In Cobb it is over 100 million dollars of their revenues on an fte basis when compared to all other systems.

    So yes on a per student basis Cobb is subsidizing the education in the districts you describe. FACT

    How about reading what we are proposing and then reading the language we will put into the statute about the statutory guarantee of the same amount of money plus growth to the schools. I know this does not help your argument, but it is again a FACT.

    Just because you ignore it does not make it untrue.

    Oh and by the way I work for a living so I cant sit in front of the computer all day.

  35. dorian says:

    Here’s my question Earl. The AARP is against this bill. So, let’s take out your constituents over 65. Teachers are against this bill. Take them out. County and municipal employees are against this bill. Minority groups are against this bill. Rural Georgia too. What constituents do you have left? I mean, to me, and this is just a layman’s observation, it seems like your urban, upper-middle class white landowners are what’s left. If I were a politician, I’d spend a little more time ‘working for a living’ trying to expand my constituent base rather than alienating most of them, or do the only votes that count the ones that are bought?

    I’ve kinda followed the history of your posting in regards to this issue, and it’s been like “f*** you” to everyone who disagrees. It seems like you guys are gonna vote for it no matter what your constituents say. That attitude is exactly why you should never be trusted with funding our county governments.

    Your in public service. Note the “service” part of that equation. You just come across as arrogrant and rude. I’m not saying that is how you are, but it darn sure is how you seem. I think that is extremely misplaced and misguided. I expect to be listened to by my elected officials, not lectured.

  36. Mad Dog says:

    ee,

    If you acted like a proper representative of the people without the crude Eric Johnson impersonation, you wouldn’t have to whine and cry like a baby evertime someone took exception to your manner.

    Give me a proper source to back up your big mouth as I have given exact figures and the sources of those figures.

    Don’t run and hide behind “I have better things to do” when the heat is on.

    You wanna talk the talk, then walk the walk.

    Mad Dog

  37. Mad Dog says:

    Meanwhile, don’t make your insidious remarks about people you have never met.

    Like when you insinuated that all bloggers have 24 hours a day to sit in front of a computer because they don’t have jobs.

    Or, when you insinuated that your dirty laundry was a proper topic for discussion, not Chris’s personal thoughts on a possibly life changing legislative proposal.

    As to your hyper critical remarks about my credibility, I’m an ass but I still have more credibility than a politician with a bad personal attitude.

    Any questions, comments?

    Mad Dog

  38. Mad Dog says:

    What are the duties of an elected official?

    EE has answered that in this thread and others as merely being a human or inhuman seismograph recording the minute changes in public opinion.

    This is case, the GREAT plan, he’s measured the hatred the public has for property taxes. He assumes the public will like paying taxes if those taxes are renamed as sales taxes.

    The third way in which to view the duty and the role of candidates and elected officials was described by Kennedy in 1955 as not a delegate or a free agent but as a trustee.

    That trustee, as paraphrased by Kennedy, came to Washington

  39. Mad Dog says:

    No response from the wonderful world of elected officials from Cobb County?

    Can I honestly say what I believe to be true about Earl Ehrhart?

    He makes things up.

    MD

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