Top 1% of taxpayers receive more income than entire bottom half combined

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

Tax policy should lean against the rising tide of income inequality, not exacerbate it. During the first three decades after World War II, economic growth was robust and widely shared: economy-wide productivity improvements were accompanied by significant increases in the living standards of most Americans. In recent decades, by contrast, the benefits of economic growth have not been widely shared. CBO data show that between 1979 and 2007, the average after-tax income of the top 1 percent of Americans grew by 281 percent, after adjusting for inflation, compared to just 25 percent for the middle 20 percent of Americans, and ­­16 percent for the poorest fifth of the population.[13]

The tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 provided the largest benefit to the highest-income households and widened these yawning income disparities. Under these tax cuts, households with incomes over $1 million stand to receive an average tax cut of $130,000 in 2012, according to the Tax Policy Center, equivalent to an increase of 6.3 percent in their after-tax income. Meanwhile, households in the middle of the income spectrum will receive tax cuts that equal 2.3 percent of their income. Households in the bottom quintile will receive an average increase in income of less than 1 percent. [14] (See Figure 3.)

Summary: after tax incomes from Bush’s tax cuts:

  • Households > $1 million: increase of 6.3%
  • Households in middle income: increase of 2.3%
  • Households in bottom quintile: increase of < 1%

The GOP has been actively engaged in bottom-to-top income redistribution. And because of God, guns, and gays, the fundamentalist teabaggers will vote for it — despite their own precarious financial situation.

Want it to stop? Vote next time.

via: @allisonkilkenny

'Member this the next time someone complains about the poor paying no income taxes: they have so little income to pay from that it only makes sense.

i’ve gotten a refund every year because i make so little and have school to pay for. this year should be interesting since i’ve made a little bit more and am out of school. but overall, throw me in the bottom.

27th September 2011 20:41
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► reblogged from letterstomycountry (originally lemuffinmistress)



Profits have gone up. Jobs have gone … down.

Contrary to what conservatives keep screaming (as if screaming it loudly enough and often enough will make it true), as businesses make more profits, THEY ARE NOT HIRING MORE WORKERS. 

Lowering taxes on big business does not encourage business to use their profits to hire more people and lower employment. It just increases personal profit.

Lowering taxes on big business, or small business for that matter, doesn’t create jobs because that’s not how businesses work.  Employee compensation is tax deductible.  Every person you hire reduces your tax liability.

Don’t take it from me, either.  Ask an incredibly wealthy strip club owner:

[Republicans] keep saying this stuff about how if we tax the rich, then small businesses won’t be able to grow. But I’m a small business owner, and I put all my money right back into my businesses in the form of capital improvements, which I don’t pay taxes on anyway. So their argument isn’t how reality works.

20th September 2011 14:27
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► reblogged from letterstomycountry (originally abaldwin360-deactivated20130708)


By Alexis Levinson - The Daily Caller

As Republicans attack President Barack Obama for a plan being proposed Monday to increase taxes on the wealthy, a liberal group called the Patriotic Millionaires is hitting back at some of those congressman they say are millionaires who are defending their own self-interest over the good of the country.

In a new web video released Monday, the group targets Republicans, including Rep. Paul Ryan, Sen. Orrin Hatch, Rep. John Boehner, Rep. Eric Cantor, Sen. John McCain, Rep. Ron Paul, Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Mitch McConnell.

“Most AMERICANS want to raise taxes on MILLIONAIRES,” says the script on the screen in the video, as patriotic-style music plays. “These POLITICIANS don’t.”

The video shows pictures of Republicans with the word “Millionaire” stamped across their photos.

The video ends with a quote by Theodore Roosevelt: “Each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”

“Millionaire Politicians who want to give themselves a tax cut are hardly trust-worthy stewards of our country’s future,” said Erica Payne, spokesman for the Patriotic Millionaires and founder of the Agenda Project. “Their continued support of policies that advance their own economic self-interests is un-American.”

“It’s time for millionaires “ LIKE ME AND THE ONES IN CONGRESS – to step up to the plate and start paying their fair share, ” said Guy Saperstein, lawyer and Patriotic Millionaire.

Paul Ryan called Obama’s plan ““Class warfare,” on Fox News Sunday, adding that it “may make for really good politics, but it makes for rotten economics.”


19th September 2011 12:53
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► reblogged from letterstomycountry (originally yung-lysenko-deactivated2014040)


The expected proposal by the President to tax annual income above a million dollars may be too cute by half. It clearly looks like a “populist” initiative and clever political maneuver. By setting the threshold at $1,000,000 it boxes out almost all the Republican allusions to small business entrepreneurs and hits a number associated with wealth in popular culture (“So You Want To Be A Millionaire”, etc).

But, it looks so much like an “in your face” political challenge to his opponents, that may have evaporated all that talk about “constructive compromise” that popped up after the disgraceful debt ceiling debate. Markets sold off after the debt debate on fears that if a real national crisis were to erupt, both parties would continue to posture in partisan acrimony as the situation worsened. We’ll see if the new tax proposal re-ignites those fears.

Secondly, the tax proposal is being dubbed the Buffett tax since Mr. Buffett has long proclaimed that it is unfair and embarrassing that he pays taxes at a lower rate than his secretary. That could be instantly remedied by Mr. Buffett (or one of his accountants) by listing his income as ordinary income on his 1040A. Then he would be taxed at a rate equal to, or, more likely, higher than his hard working assistant.

Third, the proposal flies in the face of the lessons of history. According to the Tax Foundation, after the 1929 crash, Congress proceeded to raise the top marginal tax rate from 25% to 63% by the end of Hoover’s term (hat tip to the sharpeyed Mike Higley’s “By the Numbers”). As you may recall, hiking those rates may have made folks feel that rates were more equitable but it sure didn’t help the economy. Just a few thoughts.

It is perhaps no surprise that I disagree with the commentator, but I’d like to focus on the following paragraph for great justice:

Secondly, the tax proposal is being dubbed the Buffett tax since Mr. Buffett has long proclaimed that it is unfair and embarrassing that he pays taxes at a lower rate than his secretary. That could be instantly remedied by Mr. Buffett (or one of his accountants) by listing his income as ordinary income on his 1040A. Then he would be taxed at a rate equal to, or, more likely, higher than his hard working assistant.

Emphasis added.  I find this criticism of Buffet’s position to be extremely annoying because it’s intellectually dishonest to the point of being glib (no offense to Logicallypositve, for whom I would give my first born son and the right of Prima Nocta/Droit du Seigneur in event of marriage).  

Commentators who criticize Buffet on this ground are completely missing the point (knowingly, I suspect) of why Buffet criticizes America’s tax system.  He’s not arguing that it’s *personally* unfair for him to pay lower rates while his secretary pays more.  He’s arguing that it’s unfair that people who are rich enough, as a class of taxpayers, to make their money largely through the vehicle of Capital Gains have the option of paying a substantially lower rate than people who make their money largely through labor hour wages.  The system, as it is set up, rewards wealth over work.  If Buffet changed his personal filing methods, it wouldn’t make the system any more fair because 99% of taxpayers in his income bracket would still opt to pay a lower rate than their secretaries.  That defeats the purpose of why he criticizes the tax code.

If the tax code was amended so that people in Buffet’s tax bracket had to list their Capital Gains as ordinary income on their 1040A, Buffet would almost certainly support that reform.  He would also support a reform that, say, taxed all Net Capital Gains above a reasonable threshold as ordinary income.  But again, he’s not just talking about himself.  He’s using himself as an example of a larger class of taxpayers, not simply making a personal observation about his tax situation.

19th September 2011 12:11
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► reblogged from letterstomycountry (originally nickbaumann)
“By the time I feed my family, I have maybe $400,000 left over,” - Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), in an interview on MSNBC, on why as a small business owner he can’t afford a tax increase.
13th September 2011 12:09
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► reblogged from jonathan-cunningham (originally letterstomycountry)
Crunching the numbers at the liberal think tank the Center for American Progress, analyst Michael Lind found that if one compares the cost of tax cuts in just the first four years of Bush’s term (2001–04) to the first four years of Obama’s (2009–12), Obama’s tax cuts are bigger. The value of the Bush tax cuts were about $475 billion in those first four years, or about 1.1 percent of GDP. Obama’s total about $1 trillion, or 1.6 percent of GDP.

“Obama, Tax Cutter”

Sean Hannity claims he would support the President 100% if he cut taxes.  He already has, Sean.  How now, FNC cow?

(via letterstomycountry)

At least 25 top United States companies paid more to their chief executives in 2010 than they did to the federal government in taxes, according to a study released on Wednesday.

The companies — which include household names like eBay, Boeing, General Electric ( is a joint venture of Microsoft Corp. and NBC Universal, which is jointly owned by Comcast Corp. and General Electric) and Verizon — averaged $1.9 billion each in profits, according to the study by the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal-leaning research group. But a variety of shelters, loopholes and tax reduction strategies allowed the companies to average more than $400 million each in tax benefits — which can be taken as a refund or used as write-off against earnings in future years.

17th August 2011 17:44
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► reblogged from letterstomycountry (originally letterstomycountry)

Incidentally, you might be thinking about Rick Perry’s complaint that poor people and retirees don’t pay enough in taxes and wonder how Texas is doing on that score. Unfortunately, the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy data on Texas tax structure (PDF) doesn’t let me look at retirees. We can, however, see that among the non-elderly, Governor Perry has done a great job of soaking the poor:

All states are at least somewhat regressive, but some like Massachusetts (PDF) are much less regressive.

15th August 2011 11:06
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► reblogged from letterstomycountry (originally letterstomycountry)


My earlier comments notwithstanding, who does the GOP honestly think they’re kidding?

12th August 2011 6:05
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► reblogged from letterstomycountry (originally letterstomycountry)

Peter Frase has an excellent post whose points of emphasis a somewhat disagree with highlighting the fact that globalize/grow/give is in fact a perfectly viable strategy for increasing people’s living standards. He notes the contrast between the change in inequality over time in Germany and the U.K.:

Here we see something very interesting. Before you take taxes and transfers into account, the rise in inequality in Germany looks very similar to what happened in the UK–indeed, the two countries converge to almost the same value by 2005. But disposable income inequality has stayed flat in Germany, because the German state has used taxes and transfers to counteract rising inequality.

As he also notes, “the transfers included in disposable income are only cash transfers and ‘near-cash’ benefits (like food stamps), not in-kind services like health care.” Given the large and growing shares of GDP accounted for by health care and education, and the large role of state provision in these sectors, that means this doubtless understates the amount of redistribution that is happening in practice in both Germany and the United Kingdom.

Frase wants to make the lesson of these charts that people like me have “to either make [our] peace with the sources of working-class power that currently exist, or else come up with workable models of what might replace them.” That’s fine by me. But to me the real lesson here is that, once again, it’s not clear to me what the alternative policy agenda for residents of Anglophone countries is beyond pushing for policies that are friendly to economic growth and for taxation of high-end consumption to transfer money to poorer people. It’s great that Germany has a strong labor movement, and that surely explains why it’s politically easier to enact progressive policies in Germany. But even in Germany where they have a strong labor movement they’re not doing anything miraculous to control inequality or boost living standards. It’s taxes and it’s transfers. And of course differential union strength is hardly the only difference between U.S. and German political institutions. If the U.S. Senate operated by majority vote, we would have enacted some steeply progressive tax measures in the 111th Congress. Conversely, in many European countries growing racial diversity seems to be somewhat undermining political support for the welfare state, a problem American progressives have been coping with forever.