RUSH: I'm gonna tell you something, folks, this program gets action. It was just last week that we had a call from a woman -- wait a minute. Was it a call or was it a -- no. It was call and we found corresponding news stories. We had a call from a -- no, no, no, take it back. It was a story first, then we got a call.
The story was that some woman in Maryland had her income tax refund absconded with by the IRS because some family member of hers 30 years ago supposedly owed Social Security or something. Or, no, I know what it was. The government was totally to blame. Social Security had overpaid like a great, great, great grand-aunt of hers or something, survivor benefits. And the government said, "You know what? Your family member got too much money back so we're just gonna take what your family owes out of your refund."
And this woman said, "I didn't do it," but is powerless to do anything about it. Then we got a phone call from I think another woman who said the same thing had happened to her. And then more stories started popping up, and we started talking about that quite a bit, with some great frequency. I warned you that your refund, you may not see it. The IRS were gonna collect close to, what was it, two billion. They were gonna try to reclaim two billion from various taxpayers' refunds. And, as I say, this program gets action.
Headline: "Social Security Halts Collection of Family's Old Debt." They were not debts. They were mistakes in Social Security overpayment. So some former recipient got paid too much, the benefit was too much, and didn't tell anybody. And it took the government 30 years to figure out they'd overpaid citizen X. When they figured it out they took it from citizen X's next of kin. But the family never screwed anybody. They just got more benefits than they were supposed to get.
Anyway, the Social Security Administration announced yesterday that it will no longer try to collect taxpayer debt through the government if the liability is more than 10 years old. The news comes after reports that the Social Security Administration was seizing tax refunds from about 400,000 Americans whose relatives owed money to the agency, but they didn't. It wasn't that the taxpayers had goofed up here, folks. It was that the government had overpaid. It was the mistake of the government.
Acting Social Security commissioner, Carolyn Colvin, said she ordered "an immediate halt to further referrals under the Treasury Offset Program ... pending a thorough review of our responsibility and discretion under the current law." The Washington Post was one of the Drive-By outlets that reported last week that many of those who had their tax refunds seized were unaware of the debts that their family members incurred decades ago.
Typically Americans run up debt to the Social Security Administration if they receive a benefit overpayment and don't return the extra amount. That's not fraud; that's a mistake by the government. Who knows whether they got too much. Who knows whether the amount the government sent, who knows whether your check is too much. What are you supposed to do, call the government, "Hey, you just sent me X-amount, is that the right number?" I mean, who's even confident they could get anybody to answer that phone call? Anyway, it shut down after less than a week of being mentioned on this program.
RUSH: Okay, from the Wall Street Journal: "The jump in federal tax rates that kicked in last year is causing sticker shock for many higher earners this tax season. That, in turn, is rekindling a debate over a question likely to smolder for a long time: How much more could -- or should -- taxes go up on the well-to-do?"
What debate? There isn't any debate about this. What are they talking about, rekindle a debate of over a question smoldering for a long time. There's no debate in the media over this. There's no question, the rich need to pay more and more and more. We've got income inequality and why do we have income inequality? The rich have too much in the eyes of Obama and the Democrats. We don't have income inequality because some people have too little. It's an important distinction in terms of illustrating the left's thinking.
By the way, we're always gonna have income inequality and every other kind of inequality because sameness is impossible and equality, particularly of outcome, is also impossible. It's simple common sense. I feel like an idiot having to say it. But it's news to some people. "You mean, we all aren't gonna earn the same someday?" Nah, sorry. Sorry, Steven, but it isn't gonna happen. I feel like an absolute idiot pointing out some of the most obvious things and realizing that it's news to some people.
But the point is, you have income inequality, and the left never says that the poor have too little 'cause that's just fine with them. The less you have the more you need Democrats. They always focus on who has too much, and they're perfectly happy to be the arbiters in what is too much. They're perfectly fine defining when anybody has enough and more than they need. There isn't any debate on this. There's no debate taking place. All there is is a further stigmatization of achievement, a further stigmatizing of accomplishment. Turning people that achieve great things into suspects and then suggesting that those people are benefiting from greed or winning life's lottery. They simply have got too much.
So the focus becomes, how do we take that money away from them? They've got more than they need. It's never, how do we end up raising the people at the bottom. That's what conservatism is all about. Conservatism is actually all about improving everybody's lot in life. Conservatism is all about teaching and educating people to learn what they're capable of. Conservatism is all about showing people how good they can be, about learning how good they can be. Conservatism is all about having people discover that they're capable of doing much more than they think they are. Every conservative going today has somebody in his or her past who got more out of them at some point in their life than they thought they could do.
It may be a coach in athletics. It may be a history teacher. It might be a friend, but everybody who cares about this realizes that at some point in their life somebody showed them or somebody made it possible for them to demonstrate to themselves that they were capable of much more than they thought they were and therefore they should shoot high, their ambition should be limitless, to follow their dreams. Conservatism is all about everybody having the tools necessary to improve themselves. Liberalism is based on an assumption that most people can't improve themselves because most people aren't capable of it. Most people are victims. Most people who've been victimized by the rich or by Republicans, whoever the enemies of the Democrats are that day, that's who's victimizing people.
And so the poor, they can't do any better than what they're doing unless the Democrats come along and punish somebody else and take it from them and supposedly give it to the poor. Conservatism is all about rugged individuality, self-reliance, helping people be better than they ever knew they could be, helping people discover that they were capable of accomplishing more than they ever thought they could accomplish. And when that happens, you love yourself, you have self-satisfaction, purpose, happiness. And that's what is missing in liberalism. There isn't any happiness. Achievement is denigrated. Achievement is suspected. Achievement's not really rewarded. It's suspect.
All of this is done because the Democrats know the numbers. There are far fewer rich people than there are poor people, and so they're just using a shotgun approach to policies or stated policies designed to reach the most people to get votes. But in terms of actually helping people, that's the last thing liberalism does. Liberalism, while it's said that it's all about compassion and helping people, it actually does the opposite. Conservatism is about genuine help, genuine achievement, genuine accomplishment, and instructing and telling people and helping people how to do it. It's all about optimism. It's all about can-do spirit. It's all about improvement. That's what conservatism is.
Conservatism is the individual is gonna do much better acting in his own self-interest than he will allowing government to do something for him. Self-interest is not selfishness. Self-interest is a far, far different thing than selfishness. The Democrats, the left, they are selfish, and they use people and they denigrate people and they characterize people, and they diminish people and they destroy. And it's left to us to try to fix and repair. So here you've got this great income inequality, and the left looks at it as a problem as some people have too much. And of course that plays in low-information America, "Yeah, yeah, they got more than they need. Take it away from 'em, yeah, yeah." Except don't take it away from their favorite athlete and don't take it away from their favorite actor.
No, we love those actors living rich lives. We can pretend we're doing it, too. We love those athletes running around nightclubbing and partying, but the CEO of Big Oil, you take his money. The CEO of Big Pharma, you go get his money. The CEO of Walmart, you bet, go get his money. The CEO of anybody on Wall Street, damn right, take his money, leave my athlete alone, leave my favorite actor alone. They can earn whatever they want to earn, 'cause they love me, they understand me. It's just sick. So now we've gotten to the point, ladies and gentlemen, where the top 1% now pay nearly 30% of all federal tax revenue, not just income tax, all, 30% of all federal tax revenue is now collected from the top 1%.
The bottom 50%, it's next to nothing that they pay. And the share of all federal tax revenue paid by the 1% has doubled since the 1980s. And likewise, the top 20% of income earners have gone from paying 65% of all federal taxes in 1980 to 90% in 2010. So the top 1% are paying 30% of all tax revenue. If you expand it to the top 20%, they are paying 90% of all collected tax revenue. And the 20% number includes couples with two kids making more than $150,000.
So if you make $150,000 a year or more, you are in the top 20% of wage earners, and you are in the group that's paying 90% of all tax revenue, and still it's not enough. If you listen to Barack Obama and the Democrat Party, it's still not enough. You are still not paying your fair share. In fact, the left is mocking them for even complaining. There's a snarky piece from The Atlantic. "Rich People Are Mad They Have to Pay So Many Taxes on Their Ballooning Incomes."
RUSH: And this is how the stigmatization takes place. "No group of Americans is less happy about the taxes they pay than the wealthy. The Wall Street Journal's report glossing over the fact that they are paying more in taxes in large part because they are seeing most of the increases in incomes. This is like being mad that you paid more in sales tax on your Bentley than your doorman paid in taxes for a Ford." That is not true. I can tell you from personal experience, that is not true. I can. I could point to you people whose income isn't changing whose taxes are going up dramatically. Obamacare alone is responsible for a huge increase.
There have been something like 442 tax increases that have occurred since Barack Obama was immaculated. And many of them have targeted the so-called wealthiest of Americans. And of course, how dare those rich 20%, which again is couples with two children making more than $150,000. Remember, Jim Moran or some Democrat in Congress said last week, "We can't afford to live here on what we earn." They earn $175,000. We can't afford to live in Washington. We need to earn -- we simply can't afford to live here. I have to tell you, you who earn 150 grand and have two kids, you are in the top 20%, and you got a member of Congress, he can't live on what you earn, and yet you are being targeted.
You are a part of the group that's not paying enough yet, according to the Democrat Party and Barack Obama. And if make $150,000 or more and have -- I don't care what number of kids, just any number of kids, if you make that much money, you're in the top 20% and your group is paying 90% of all tax revenue, and the people at The Atlantic mock you if you complain about it. Meanwhile, we keep hear, well, income inequality. How about income tax inequality, Mr. President?
RUSH: Sacramento, my adopted hometown, here's Al from there. Great to have you on the program, Al. Hello.
CALLER: Hey, Rush. What an honor.
RUSH: Thank you.
CALLER: How are you today?
RUSH: I'm great. Thank you very much.
CALLER: I'm on a cell phone. Hopefully you can hear me okay.
RUSH: Your quality is pretty good. Got a good connection here.
CALLER: Oh, good. Well, I'll share a story. You got me going earlier today talking about the Social Security, IRS tax return confiscation type stuff. My wife and I have been married for 33 years, and her father died after the Korean War in a VA Hospital when she was nine years old.
CALLER: Her mother apparently collected Social Security on her behalf, and she's been deceased now for over 20 years. Well, last year we didn't get our tax return. I'm retired from the military; we've filed tax returns every year since we've been married and have had passports; we've never heard anything from anybody, and then all of a sudden, boom, they came after us for overpayments to somebody 40 years ago. So it's happening even though --
RUSH: It is, but here's the thing. They have shut the program down now. Well, for anything past 10 years. They have shut down the program for any so-called debt. But the point is, your family members didn't owe anything. It's not that they had short-changed the government. There was just a mistake. The government had overpaid, but who knew? Who knows? This is just what happens when governments have no money. They just have to go get it wherever they can, and it's a cheap, cheap, cheap trick. And the fact that they've pulled back on this so quickly after having been called on it, means something. But somebody must have really caught hell over this to pull back on this, 'cause this is the kind of thing that normally we wouldn't bother. What are we gonna do, they take our tax return, where are we gonna go to get it back? There's nowhere we can go. But yet they've pulled this back for so-called debts past 10 years. Al, thanks.