How Terrible We Are So Fair

How terrible we are so fair. In an effort to open a new front against President Bush, the left and it’s propaganda tool, the New York Times, has returned to an old staple of Karl Marx. You guessed it — the rich are getting richer, only this time the poor are not getting poorer, they just are not getting as rich as fast as the already rich. According to the the New York Times

The people at the top of America’s money pyramid have so prospered in recent years that they have pulled far ahead of the rest of the population, an analysis of tax records and other government data by The New York Times shows. They have even left behind people making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

The source for the evil is the President’s tax cut. As the Times shows

The Bush administration tax cuts stand to widen the gap between the hyper-rich and the rest of America. The merely rich, making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, will shoulder a disproportionate share of the tax burden.

President Bush said during the third election debate last October that most of the tax cuts went to low- and middle-income Americans. In fact, most – 53 percent – will go to people with incomes in the top 10 percent over the first 15 years of the cuts, which began in 2001 and would have to be reauthorized in 2010. And more than 15 percent will go just to the top 0.1 percent, those 145,000 taxpayers.

What does this mean? It is simple. If you make $1 million and your taxes are reduced by three percent, you save more money from that tax cut than a person making $30,000 who gets a ten percent tax cut. But, the Times naturally leaves out the fact that a person who makes $1 million still pays more taxes than a person who makes $30,000.

ys, according to a Treasury Department analysis

Under the Bush tax cuts, the 400 taxpayers with the highest incomes – a minimum of $87 million in 2000, the last year for which the government will release such data – now pay income, Medicare and Social Security taxes amounting to virtually the same percentage of their incomes as people making $50,000 to $75,000.

That’s a fancy way of saying the Bush administration is not punitively punishing high income earners as the Times would prefer. Americans are being treated on a more equal basis. The wealthy also are able to shelter their money better than the average person because the wealthy can afford to hire attorneys to find the loopholes Congress puts in the tax code — the tax code the New York Times champions in lieu of true tax reform.

In the Times running series “Class Matters,” the paper pays homage to Karl Marx as it grasps for another Pulitzer. In the process it has tried to dig up old complaints about the rich and Republicans and, as has happened in the past, fails. How terrible we are so fair instead of punishing those who achieve great things.

Update [2005-6-5 10:3:1 by Erick]: I received a very nice note from David Cay Johnston, who is so consciencous, he even wrote back to correct his grammar, which makes me look very bad.

David points out that he is only highlighting the data from the Treasury report, which does in fact show that wealth is even more concentrated in a few hands than ever before and that, according so several quoted in the article — including Alan Greenspan — has the potential to be a dangerous thing. Frankly, my gut instinct is to agree. But, I have not yet seen that and, I think, David is perhaps the innocent bystander in my overwhelming suspicion that this data will serve to be an unwelcome and rehashed attack against the Bush administration. I’ll let David have the final say.

I hope you will go back and re-read my article in today’s New York Times.

It does NOT attribute the growing share of income going to the top to date to the Bush tax cuts, as you wrote in a post.

Rather, it shows that the share of national income going to the top 0.1 and 0.01 percent have been rising for years — long before Mr. Bush was elected. This part of the charts has has annual data from 1920 to 2002 and is drawn from material originally published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, whose head is Martin Feldstein. The principal author of the work I cite on rising income shares is currently a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution.

My article also says that a computer model — which the Treasury, among others, says is reliable — shows effects it will have in the years ahead under the law today and if the proposals in the President’s 2006 Budget are enacted.

The charts (including the original source documents) are available for you to examine at nytimes.com.

David, thanks very much for your kind note, for reading, and for your willingness to respond.

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Erick Erickson

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