There are few people on cable news as loathsome as Greg Gutfeld. The most flattering assessment of his role on Fox News Channel is that he's a professional troll. As the host of the late-night program Red Eye, as well as one of the talking dumbstupids on The Five, Gutfeld is a less funny Dennis Miller, mixing what can be generously referred to as jokes along with snipingly viral dollops of indignation perfectly targeted for the angry, deranged, bumper-sticker craving viewers who desperately cling to Fox News like Linus clings to his wooby.
Meanwhile, in predictable form, the far-right has launched into its April version of the War On Christmas routine, wheeling out the myopic, zombie gripe about how horrifying it is that roughly half of all Americans don't pay federal income taxes -- as if it's a choice or a nefarious loophole in the system, you know, like the ones exploited by many of the corporate "people" who enjoy a tax rate of zero.
So of course Gutfeld jumped in forehead-first and went off on a rant about this obvious injustice during Tuesday's edition of The Five. Here's the video, but don't worry -- you don't have to watch it. I'll dig into it below so you don't have to.
"Yay! It's tax day or for 70 million households, Tuesday."
Now there's an original joke. He could've replaced "Tuesday" with a well-timed "NOT!" and it would've been roughly the same caliber of Lieutenant-Steve-From-Good-Morning-Vietnam comedy. Substance-wise, and right off the bat, he's wrong. Dead wrong. Every American adult is required by law to file tax returns on tax day. Federal returns, state returns, local returns. It's tax day for everyone. Just because some people don't end up paying federal taxes doesn't mean it's not tax day.
He goes on to describe how those 70 million Americans wonder why everyone else is at the post office on tax day.
"I don't blame them. I envy them! A tax form to them is like a coupon for Head & Shoulders if you're bald."
I wouldn't expect Gutfeld to be well-versed on the very basic process of filing a tax return, but to repeat: even if you don't have to pay anything, you still have to fill out and submit a tax return.
"Reid and his ilk look at America and see millions of wallets and purses, ready to be picked to perpetuate their power."
Purses picked to perpetuate their power. Gutfeld's quite a wordsmith. He should've added, "'Takers' tell taxpayers to willfully withdraw their wages for wicked welfare. I'm Greg Gutfeld, goodnight." Or to quote Albert Brooks in Broadcast News: "A lot of alliteration from anxious anchors placed in powerful posts."
"See, my theory of government is really simple."
Wow, a Fox News host with a really simple theory. There's breaking news. Please continue.
"It's all about the street. Government should keep things off the street -- thugs, the insane, invading armies. And keep things on the street -- like cement and lampposts. Everything else we can handle."
Oh really? You mean "we" can handle making sure the air and drinking water isn't polluted, that our meat isn't poisonous or that our medicine won't kill us? I wonder who among "we" will handle international diplomacy, disease control, the regulation of energy, the passage of legislation or the adjudication of the law. Who will collect the taxes that Greg Gutfeld believes everyone should pay irrespective of their station? I guess as long as "the insane" aren't walking on our cement, none of that really matters.
"I'm bummed that 110 days of my salary goes directly into the mouth of a blob that turns my efforts into useless poop."
Part of that "useless poop" is the national defense and cement he was just demanding, but okay. Gutfeld is also saying here that he's paying a roughly 33 percent effective tax rate, pretty close to the top. If so, he's either a complete idiot or he should probably fire his accountant for not taking more deductions. His marginal tax rate might be 33 percent, but his effective tax rate should be lower. In other words, he might be in the 33 percent bracket, but he'll pay an actual tax rates that's much lower after deductions and so forth. If he's really in that bracket, he can afford an accountant who's good enough to maximize his deductions.
"So today the IRS chuckles. And they can laugh, because as they target conservative groups..."
The IRS, an agency, is incapable of chuckling. But I nitpick. The IRS isn't "targeting" conservative groups. Debunked.
"...while billions of taxes go unpaid by federal employees..."
Billions unpaid by federal employees? Huh? I assure you, federal employees pay taxes. Besides, I thought Gutfeld was against paying taxes because of a pooping blob or some such thing.
But this brings us to the ultimate point here.
First of all, nontaxable households do, in fact, pay state and local taxes. They pay sales taxes and other excise taxes. They also pay Medicare and Social Security taxes.
As for specifically which households don't have to pay federal income taxes, 74 percent are, according to the clearly liberal folks at Money magazine, "the elderly and working families with children." I thought Republicans were pro-family and pro-children and actually supported tax incentives for getting married and having children. The other 26 percent are students who will eventually enter the workforce, along with the unemployed and workers whose paychecks are simply not enough to facilitate a tax burden greater than the level of the standard deduction. As for the latter group, Gutfeld and The Five could lend a hand by supporting a living wage, elevating salaries and thus increasing taxable incomes. While they're at it, they could also use their hour of daily airtime to call for higher taxes on senior citizens. The Republicans, too. I'm sure that'll be a pretty popular platform plank (Gutfeldian alliteration intentional).
So I guess every April we'll have no choice but to swat this one down. But it still confuses me how a group whose whole thing is about tax cuts can be so angry when some Americans don't have to pay certain taxes. Maybe one of these days they'll notice the cognitive dissonance of it all and stop. Then again, the need to demonize the poor and mislead the public is way more important than consistency and rationality.