It All Depends on Your Definition of a Tax….

There was another item in the news this morning about Congressional Republicans’ efforts to “trim” food stamps. The stated reason is to reduce government expenditures without raising taxes.

My husband noted that calling something a “reduction in benefits” doesn’t change the fact that the target of the measure has less money to spend at the grocery. Substantively, the food stamp recipient has been taxed.

This willingness to “reduce benefits” to avoid calling something a tax raises an inconvenient question. Oil companies–which have been massively profitable of late–enjoy generous federal subsidies. If the GOP doesn’t want to tax those they have labeled “job creators,” why not simply reduce their┬ábenefits?

Evidently, in the reality occupied by these Congressmen, reducing corporate welfare for big oil is a “tax” to be avoided at all costs, but reducing social welfare for poor children is just budgetary prudence.

I guess it all depends on what your definition of a “tax” is.


  1. I disagree with the name-game of calling benefit cuts “a tax.” Cutting subsidies, whether to poor people or rich corporations, is not a “tax increase,” though I agree in substance it permits fewer resources to the person previously benefitted. You are absolutely correct, however, to highlight the GOP hypocricy on the issue of subsidies for businesses.

  2. We cannot give money to hungry people. We MUST save that money to give it to the richest corporations in the history of the world: The Oli Giants. How silly to suggest we FEED hungry people. The RICH need more money.

  3. Causing more costs to poor people IS a tax increase on them and I’m so glad you’ll pulling back the curtain on this economic ‘Wizard of Oz”.

    The middle class is declining; poverty is increasing. Nearly half of all Hoosier children now qualify for free or reduced school lunches. How much hungrier do more children have to get
    before we understand that impoverishing more families also impoverishes businesses by shrinking the economy and shrinking demand.

    If people don’t have the money to buy what business is selling, business will also suffer. Unfortunately, too many businesses don’t or won’t understand this basic lesson of economics.

  4. Congressional Republicans have taxed my patience to it’s outer limits, reduced my tolerance level for their blatherings to zero and my reality is occupied by the hope that they will either wake up or prudently disappear into the twilight zone of their own reality.

  5. So, David, would removing special interest deductions like the home mortgage interest deduction be considered raisin taxed? It is, after all, just spending by another name and vehicle.

  6. My friend Martha had a great saying for people whose behavior (including those across the aisle) is bizarre: “It’s really dark where they are!”

    Dark indeed!

  7. Josh O. – I would say that removing a tax deduction would result in increased taxes, assuming tax rates remain the same. To be clear, I’m NOT defending in any way, shape, or form the anti-tax zealots or the pro-corporatist subsidies. We need taxes to pay for the services we, as a community, use: roads, public schools, police, fire protection, nat’l defense, and many others that government provides. (My comment was not intended as a defense of using tax dollars to subsidize private/corp interests, of which I believe we do way too much). My point was simply that removal of subsidies – whether welfare benefits or corporate subsidies – is not, to me, a “tax” in the sense of “raising revenue.” It may save the govt money and it may increase burdens on those affected; it may or may not be a wise policy position (and I also was not addressing the merits or substance of the policy aspect), but it is not a “tax.”

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