President Joe Biden promised voters on the campaign trail, “If you make under $400,000, you will not pay a penny more in taxes when I’m president.” He repeated his pledge numerous times on the road to the White House and still maintains this intention to this day. But the economic proposals made by Biden and his fellow Democrats would let the IRS squeeze more revenue out of working people. Here are just a few of the proposed policies, tax increases, and additional fees that will hit people well below the top 1.8% of income earners.
1. ATF firearm registration
President Biden endorsed a proposal that would extract hundreds or thousands of dollars from Americans of all income levels: He would force people to register semiautomatic weapons, as well as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, with the federal government — and charge a registration fee for each item.
Candidate Biden promised to institute a “buy back” program for “assault weapons” and “high-capacity” magazines. His campaign website explained that Biden would “give individuals who now possess assault weapons or high-capacity magazines two options: sell the weapons to the government, or register them under the National Firearms Act.”
The federal government charges a $200 fee on each item registered under the FDR-era NFA. “The law imposed a $200 tax on firearms enumerated in the act, a tax that has not changed since 1934. Those who don’t comply with the tax could face fines or imprisonment, as well as a felony charge,” according to PolitiFact.
Americans already own an estimated 15 to 20 million firearms that would be dubbed “assault weapons” under previous legislative language written by then-Senator Biden — including millions of AR-15s, perhaps the most popular self-defense weapon in the United States.
Many gun owners also possess multiple magazines for each handgun, with most holding more than 10 rounds. Biden has not suggested the government waive the $200 registration fee (or provide a government subsidy) for those who earn less than $400,000 annually.
“Regardless of one’s opinion on guns and gun control, it is obvious that this proposal will disproportionately impact poor and working-class communities,” wrote Brooklyn-based labor organizer Kim Kelly in The Washington Post. “Biden’s plan sets in motion a ‘war on guns,’ the same way his predecessors declared wars on ‘poverty,’ ‘crime’ and ‘terror’ — wars in which it was inevitably black and brown people who were the real targets.”
The financial pain, which is supposed to discourage gun ownership, will assure that only the wealthy can protect themselves, while those in the most crime-ridden neighborhoods would have a more difficult time defending themselves (and be poorer, to boot).
2. Reinstating the Obamacare penalty
When former President Barack Obama transformed the U.S. health care landscape, the plan he unveiled proved so unpopular that he had to threaten to punish anyone who refused to participate. While President Donald Trump lowered this penalty to zero, candidate Joe Biden said he would reinstate the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate — and its economic penalty.
The ACA, conventionally known as Obamacare, punitively fines anyone who fails to purchase a qualified health insurance plan $695 for a single person or as much as $2,085 for a family of four. Chief Justice John Roberts famously defined this penalty as a tax in the Supreme Court ruling that saved Obamacare from being overturned. Almost three-quarters of the 4.6 million households that paid the penalty had an adjusted gross income of $50,000 or less.
3. Carbon tax on home heating and cooking
“We’ve set a goal that by 2025 our power sector will be free of carbon,” President Biden announced on Friday. Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee have included a tax on carbon in a list of formal proposals obtained by NBC News.
Although Democrats dub this “carbon pricing,” internal documents clearly refer to it as a “tax.” They are weighing three separate proposals: “a per-ton tax” on the carbon dioxide content of such fossil fuels as coal, oil, and natural gas starting at $15 per ton and “escalating over time”; “a tax” on industries like U.S. steel or cement makers for each ton of CO2 emissions; or “a per-barrel tax” on crude oil.
Senate Democrats privately appear to admit that each “tax” would hit the poor, because the leaked document plainly states, “Each option would be paired with rebates or other direct relief for low-income taxpayers.” When talking amongst themselves, Democrats appear to admit that their scheme would force low-income people to pay the carbon tax, then have U.S. taxpayers repay all or a portion of the added cost at the end of the year.
4. Methane fee
In a more concrete step, on September 14, the Democrat-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a fee on methane, which is the largest component of natural gas, used for home heating and cooking. But it is also a greenhouse gas, so the Green movement deems it a building block of the impending “existential climate emergency.” And they recognize, “The power to tax is the power to destroy.”
The Democrats’ methane fee is based on legislation from Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), which would charge $1,800 per ton, and increase by 2% above inflation each year. Worse yet, the proposal taxes a company on the amount of methane they handle, not on their methane emissions into the environment.
“Given the magnitude of the fee, natural gas utilities will likely seek cost recovery,” wrote Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), which “results in increased costs for consumers at every income level. Households, including those the [p]resident promised wouldn’t see a tax increase, will inevitably have to foot the bill.”
The natural gas industry says the fee could “result in the average customer seeing an approximate increase of 17% in their natural gas bill, or over $100 per year for the average American family,” according to the American Gas Association. “We also estimate that the proposal could put more than 100,000 American jobs at risk.”
Some Democratic congressmen have attempted to defend the methane tax by using word games. “This is not a tax. It’s a fee on natural gas waste,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO).
But Republicans say the measure clearly violates President Biden’s campaign pledge to restrict tax hikes to the wealthiest Americans. “I don’t think you can credibly say that this will have no effect on anyone who earns less than $400,000 a year unless you’re going to establish an elaborate rebate system for people in that price range,” said Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX).
5. Plastic tax
Democrats have been zealous about recycling plastic for decades. Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee have also proposed that lawmakers “[i]mpose a $.20 per pound fee on the sale of virgin plastic used to make single-use plastics, which are routinely disposed of as trash or end up in marine ecosystem as marine debris.” The “Plastic Excise Tax,” which is also on the list of the committee’s proposals, would be passed on through higher costs imposed on everyone who purchases anything made with plastic. “The Democrats’ tax on plastics is a tax on every middle income American,” said Grover Norquist, president of the pro-tax-cutting organization Americans for Tax Reform.
6. Cigarette tax
Democrats plan to impose “sin taxes” on tobacco and nicotine products to reduce smoking (and, possibly, to harm the tobacco industry, which is based in Republican states and has funded conservative causes in the past). As The Daily Wire’s Ben Zeisloft reported, “The Democrats’ tax plan would also double the existing excise tax on popular tobacco products — including cigarettes and small cigars — from $50.33 per thousand to $100.66 per thousand.”
This regressive tax will disproportionately fall on the poor. “The vast majority of smokers have lower incomes, and tobacco is one of the few goods that have an inverse relationship with income in that consumption increases as income decreases,” according to the Tax Foundation. “Today, at a national level, a pack-a-day-smoker making $15,000 a year pays almost 10 percent of their income in tobacco taxes (state and federal). The proposed increase takes that figure to 12 percent. For someone making $35,000 that’s 4.1 percent today and 5.2 percent after the tax increase.” All of those incomes fall substantially below $400,000.
Inflation has taken off under President Biden, thanks in no small part to a flood of currency entering the economy through government overspending. While reckless government spending did not begin with President Biden, his embrace of multiple trillion-dollar plans will put the downward slide into warp speed.
Inflation has already pulled up prices everywhere Americans spend money, especially on essentials. The price of staples like food have risen steadily, with the cost of beef rising 14% this year, pork by 12%, and poultry by 6.6%. Gasoline prices are up 42% over last year.
Henry Hazlitt explained in his book Economics In One Lesson:
Inflation is a form of taxation. It is perhaps the worst possible form, which usually bears hardest on those least able to pay. … It discourages all prudence and thrift. It encourages squandering, gambling, reckless waste of all kinds. It often makes it more profitable to speculate than to produce. It tears apart the whole fabric of stable economic relationships.
There can hardly be a crueler tax on the poor than raising the price of food. Throw in the planned price increases for natural gas, cigarettes, and firearms, and President Biden’s economic policy looks less like Robin Hood than it does a war on the working class.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.