Conservative economics were on display yesterday as Sen. Jim DeMint argued not only to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, but to lower them further.

“What we need to do is what I’ve proposed and many Republicans is, first of all, we stop this tax explosion that’s scheduled for next year,” DeMint said during an appearance on Fox News. “The Bush tax cuts expire. Every tax that you can think of goes up — capital gains, alternative minimum, marriage penalty. It all comes back into play.”

But DeMint said that if Congress wants to really create jobs, it should slash the 35 percent rate currently faced by the wealthiest individuals and corporations (i.e., with an income in 2009 higher than $373,000).

“But we also need to just cut the top marginal rate for individuals and corporations so that we’re more competitive and companies can look way out in the future and know they’ll have a competitive tax rate,” DeMint said.

Here’s a handy chart you can use to rebut this – and it was put together by the American Enterprise Institute, no less. They think it shows definitively that the top 1% pays too much in taxes. What it actually shows is how much income inequality there is in this country. The share of income for the top 1% has more than doubled since 1980, although their share of taxes has gone up far more slowly. As Kevin Drum notes, “If your share of the income pie increases by 135% over thirty years while everyone else stagnates, you’re a pretty lucky ducky. Surely the least you can do is not complain that your share of the tax bill went up by only 100%?”

We have a centrist party and a feudalist party in America. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which is which.

David Dayen

David Dayen