American Elephants

Who Is Not Paying Their “Fair Share” Mr. Obama? by The Elephant's Child

The United States of America is actually more dependent on rich people to pay taxes than any other industrialized nation.

The top ten percent of income earners in the United States pay almost half (45 percent) of the country’s total taxes. So much for Obama’s constant claim that  top earners in the U.S. are not paying their “fair share” in taxes.  According to the Tax Foundation, the United States gets 45 percent of its total taxes from the top 10 percent of tax filers, whereas the international average in industrialized nations is 32 percent.

America’s rich carry a larger share of the tax burden than the rich in Belgium (25 percent), Germany (31 percent), France (28 percent) and even Sweden (27 percent).

The statistics are from The Wall Street Journal’s Stephen Moore’s new book Who’s the Fairest of Them All?: The Truth about Opportunity, Taxes, and Wealth in America.

Can we just get over the class war, and the “fair share” crap, and talk about jobs and reducing government spending?


Straw Men, Prevarications, Falsehoods and Plain Old Lies. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s class warfare scheme seems to be working.  Polls indicate that people think that the rich should pay more taxes.  Of course they want more taxes paid by someone else.

The rich have more choices than the rest of us because they are not dependent on all their income like most of us are. If the government plans a tax on expensive yachts, they can easily fly to the Bahamas and buy their boat there. They can invest in a growing company that pays no dividends and wait for years to cash in the investment when capital gains taxes are lower.

The “Buffet Rule”, as defined by Obama, is that people making more than $1 million a year should not pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than middle-class families pay.  This is the familiar” straw man argument,” that Obama uses so often. He creates an imaginary villain — a straw man — and then rails against him.

The Americans in the bottom 20 percent of earners, the lowest quintile paid a minus 3.8 percent of the total federal income tax burden. In other words they got money back from the government, more back in credits than they paid in.  Those in the middle quintile, the center of the middle class who had an average income of $44,000, paid 3.9 percent of the total federal income tax burden. In other words they paid about $1 out of every $25 dollars of income taxes paid nationwide.

Those in the fourth quintile, with incomes ranging from $58,000 to $102,000 paid about one dollar paid 15.1 percent of the total federal income tax burden.  The eighty percent of Americans whose income placed them in the first four quintiles of income earners combined paid about $1 our of every $9 that is paid in federal income taxes nationwide.

The top earners, with income of at least $1.974 million, the tippy-top 0.1 percent of earners, paid more toward the workings of the government than the bottom 80 percent did.  That’s in spite of the fact that the bottom 80 percent collectively made more than six times as much money as the top 0.1 percent did.

A member of the small group that belong to the top 0.1 percent of earners paid roughly $1,147,616 in annual income taxes. When the fat cats, the filthy rich, are paying more taxes than 80 percent of the population is collectively paying, Obama’s straw man ploy becomes a little pathetic.

Warren Buffett is a special case. He has made his money as an investor, and as a long term investor at that. His firm, Berkshire-Hathaway is a major tax shelter. He receives only a modest salary. And is notably donating most of his wealth to Bill Gates Foundation in charitable deductions.

Berkshire Hathaway is embroiled in a tax battle with the IRS, where the IRS is trying to collect millions in back taxes. There is something particularly phony about the Buffet Rule.

Unfortunately, this is an old trick of the left, and it usually works. The left, from the moment that the Bush tax cuts were debated proclaimed loudly, in unison, “Tax cuts for the rich.” The left depends on the public believing that Republicans are mean, cold people who protect the rich and pick on poor people.  Explanations are lengthy, and are easily trumped with short, bumper-sticker phrases like “Tax cuts for the rich.” Hard to get people to read a long explanation when you are easily swayed by a frequently repeated phrase.  Sigh.

Disinformation, Distortion, and Disillusion. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama is having another bad week. Deservedly. The distortions in his Rose Garden jobs speech were interesting.  “If we’re not willing to ask those who’ve done extraordinarily well to help America close the deficit…then the logic, the math says everybody else has to do a whole lot more.  We’ve got to put the entire burden on the middle class and the poor.”

The liberal theme — the “conventional wisdom” — says that the middle class has suffered over the past decade while the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy left the rich wallowing in their ill-gotten gains.  The constant theme from Obama has been that  middle class incomes have stagnated as the economic policies of the previous administration took their toll on the shrinking middle class.  Obama needs an in-house fact-checker.

In the seven years from 2001– 2007 not only did the middle class get their fair share, but the income gap between the rich and the middle class got smaller. You can, of course play with statistics to say true things that give false impressions.

The American calls attention to the March Supplement to the Current Population Survey offers two seemingly contradictory conclusions:

1. median household income “flatlined” underperforming the overall economy.

2. middle-class income growth outperformed that for the overall economy as well as that for the rich.

This returns us to the difference between “median household income” and “middle-class income”.  The median household is simply a statistical theoretical household that would sit in the middle of the entire income-ranked U.S. households.  The middle-class is either the center 3 income quintiles or the center of five income quintiles.  It is poorly defined, but includes most of us, and however defined is huge.  The words median, average, and middle always give us trouble because they sound the same and are very definitely not the same.

Obama is going after “millionaires and billionaires” because the ordinary, median, average, middle of us, are expected by liberals to be enormously envious of those who are rich. Those who are hurting in this economy are especially assumed to be angry and envious. Some are.  I’ve heard them on the radio, and known some who go through life making themselves miserable by  envying others.

The interesting thing to notice is that Obama’s definition of “millionaires and billionaires” includes every household that makes $250.000 or single person who makes $200,000.  In many parts of the country that is an enormous income, but in big metropolitan areas like New York, it can be barely scraping by with two incomes. You are supposed to concentrate on the “millionaires and billionaires” and fail to notice that Obama is reaching pretty far down into the middle class for his millionaires.

The dirty little secret is that there aren’t enough real millionaires and billionaires to make the slightest dent in the deficit. Even if you confiscated all their money, it still wouldn’t make the slightest dent in the deficit.Whenever you are talking about taxes, remember that all the money is in the middle-class, because that’s where all the great numbers of people are.

So that part of the speech was phony.  And the president’s “debt reduction” — his spending reductions that he claimed would provide $2 of spending cuts for every $1 of tax increases— were phony too.  He starts with items already enacted that he is counting twice.  He double counts the savings from the discretionary spending caps in Medicare savings for ObamaCare. Then there are the bogus war savings:  $1.084 trillion from winding down the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. They start with the surge level of spending which then rises with inflation over the next 10 years — after the troops have come home — and then reduces that level of pretend copybook savings and calls it reductions.

As the administration claims become more preposterous, more people are finally noticing that the promises are hollow, the ‘new” ideas are the same old ones that didn’t work before, and Chicago-style pay-to-play is alive and well in the developing scandals.  Solyndra executives will take the fifth amendment and refuse to respond to questioning, LightSquared is being investigated. And the proposals to create jobs are simply a payback for the unions.  No help for the unemployed.

Even the Democrats are disillusioned.

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