Monday, December 26, 2011

Trib complains about Obama, makes same mistake ...

So the Trib today (Monday) takes a shot at Barack Obama's comments about the rich in his speech in Osawatomie. Now, Obama did make a mistake in saying that some some billionaires pay only 1% in federal income taxes (the one percent only paying one percent, somewhat lyrical). Apparently there is no specific data to back up that claim, but Politifact still rated the Obama claim was only "mostly false". As I said , there is no specific data, but Politifact noted that according to the IRS 30 of the 400 billionaires paid (at some point, I don't know what year) an effective tax rate of between 0 and 10 percent. Further, Politifact noted that Bloomberg reporter Gigi Stone made the specific statement about the billionaires only paying the one percent on a TV interview. That doesn't mean the white House should have put it in a speech given by the President (or not at least without attributing it specifically to Ms Stone), but at least it can't be said the President just made it up.

On the other hand, the Trib asserts the nebulous statement that income inequity "n 2007 had fallen to its lowest level in six years" per the Census Bureau. I could not verify that statement searching on "income inequality in 2007 Census". Of course, not being specific as to whether they are talking about the top 20% versus the bottom 20%, or the top .01% versus the bottom 50%, the Trib makes it impossible to evaluate their statement.

And in any event, a particular fluctuation in one of many ways to look at income inequity that dips to the slightly lower number than a number five years earlier says nothing about sixty some years of increasing income of inequity. But the Trib doesn't say anything about that. Because even though the Trib expects the President to be absolutely accurate, it does not feel it has to do anything like the same.

5 comments:

Fred said...

First (from a few months ago), I would like to point out that GDP, like unemployment, is a response variable. Two quarters of down GDP is what DEFINES a recession. GDP fell so much more in the 2008 recession vs. 2001 recession, not due to the severity of the contraction, but because of the Democratic Congress and George Bush’s bad policies in the beginning followed by President O’bomba’s even worse bad policies now. Your assertion as long as Obama pushes policies that help the economy that anything he has done has helped the economy is belied by the fact that the economy isn’t getting better. You might want to Google the word tautology. But I wish to address your problem with income inequality. It appears that income inequality is related to class mobility and a sign of a healthy economy not a sign of a problem. Richard Epstein in this little clip seems to agree. Even Paul Krugman seems to feel that debt, income inequality, and prosperity are somehow linked. You remind me of the guy who seeing the space shuttle launch for the first time complains about the smoke and fire coming out the back. The real problem is the concentration of wealth, which is actually protected by high income taxes, let me explain. According to the Federal Reserve, the top 20% of the population controls 85% of the wealth. This same group earns only 47% (2008) of the income. Obviously the remaining 80% of the population earns 53% of the income while controlling only 15% of the wealth. As a measure of productivity of wealth, the bottom 80% is six times more productive. To clarify; Bill Gates, a real rich guy, a few years ago paid $19 million income tax on $59 million of earnings but at the same times had a net worth of $5.8 BILLION. He paid .03 percent of his net worth in income tax. Theresa Heinz Kerry in 2004 paid $660,000 in income tax on a net worth of $200 million or .3 percent. I am a Bitter Clinger who owns his own home and has a 401k and last year I paid 3% of my net worth in income taxes. My daughter and her husband, who are just starting out, paid a stunning 30% of their net worth in income taxes and my son in LA is underwater and has a negative net worth. The question is who should pay to support the status quo? Since my son has nothing why should he be forced to pay? For the last hundred years government has tinkered with the tax rates in the income tax to get the wealthy to pay more but as I have pointed out it is like fighting al-Qa'ida in Iraq, it just can’t be done. When you raise rates on high-income earners you essentially destroy the ability for people to move from class to class. Both the Tea Party and OWS see the problem but because they cannot discriminate between income and wealth are unable to see any feasible solutions. Which 1% do you feel is the problem, the wealthy or the high-income earners, because they are NOT the same people!

EdHeath said...

Well, Fred, I believe you have commented here before. I find your comment to be a mix of technical terms and sloppy phrasing, and I am somewhat at a loss as to what you are saying. You don't seem to understand how Congress works, but I suspect you think you understand it better than most people. Which means we are unlikely to have a productive conversation, because we aren't going to agree on basic reality.

Still, I have to ask whether you actually watched the Epstein clip. When you say "The real problem is the concentration of wealth", first, I would agree that is a real problem, but second, Epstein would disagree with you strenuously. I did not find Epstein particularly compelling, by the way, although I would not say I disagreed with everything he said, just most of it.

I will say we (as a culture) are somewhat sloppy in our use of the terms wealth and income; we often use them interchangeably. But they are taxed quite differently, and in fact to some extent wealth may not be taxed at all, or at best at a very low rate. It may not be possible to tax wealth more highly, we tax capital gains (or the increase of wealth) slightly and could tax them more (as we have done in the past). But as far as I am aware, we have never taxed principal (or the original investment), and once the capital gains (after being taxed) are added to the investment, then they remain untaxed until perhaps the death of their owner. And to be honest I am not sure how I feel about that as a matter of policy.

Your views on Obama's policies are pretty typical of someone who gets their information from Fox News. It is not reassuring that you appear to quote me from something else I wrote, not the post you are commenting on. I understand you are not going to believe either data or economists. You misreading of the Krugman piece kind of indicates that (he was trying to show that federal debt as a percentage of GDP currently is not as high as during the great depression; which backs up the idea that the 2009 stimulus that passed Congress was not big enough to do any more than keep the economy from falling into a depression).

Winding down said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
 JKirchartz said...

The Gini Coefficient measures income inequality (0 means everybody earns the same income, 1 means one person earns all income) this is a measure devised by the CIA, anyhow...
The Trib's claim that income inequality was less in 2007 than in 2001 is patently false. Here's a chart of the Gini for the US from 1967-2007, showing that not to be the case. I found it on this site

EdHeath said...

JKirchartz, I've certainly heard of the Gini Coefficient; I think it is widely used by economists and other social scientists. Which is why the Trib would probably assume it is some kind of liberal trick.

But thanks for one type of confirmation, which I myself would accept without reservation.