HOT BLAST: A tax vs. a fee
Dec 11, 2013 | 997 views |  0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., announce a tentative agreement between Republican and Democratic negotiators on a government spending plan. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., announce a tentative agreement between Republican and Democratic negotiators on a government spending plan. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Matt Yglesias takes a close look at the proposed Ryan-Murray budget deal and notes that it "works because both sides have agreed to exploit a little semantic ambiguity around what exactly constitutes a tax increase."

Here's part of his explanation:

I’m flying to San Antonio with my wife in January, and I just checked the receipt for our airfare. It contains a line item for “taxes, fees, and surcharges” which are listed separately from “airfare.” The the conceptual separation between airfare (the price of tickets the airline chooses to charge) and not-airfare (stuff the government makes you pay) is clear. The conceptual distinctions between the different kinds of stuff the government makes you pay are not clear at all.

Delving into deeper detail, I see I’m paying a U.S. Federal Transportation Tax, a U.S. Flight Segment Tax, a Sept. 11 Security Fee, and a U.S. Passenger Facility Charge. The first two are taxes, the third is a fee, while the fourth, I suppose, is a surcharge. But what’s the difference? I think it’s pretty obvious that there isn’t one. The fee is a kind of tax, just one that’s called a fee.

So, you see the proposed budget deal doesn't raises "taxes," which would make conservatives feel bad; it raises "fees," which are apparently less bad.
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