Sunday, June 21, 2009

Chart of the Day

Despite repeated demonstrations that the previous President cut tax rates for all income levels--and that the poor and middle class benefited--doctrinaire lefties like copithorne insist that George Bush cut taxes of the wealthy. As reader OBloodyHell notes, that's true tautologically because the wealthy pay most of the taxes. But copithorne still fails to grasp that the cuts were hugely progressive--thereafter, the share of Federal taxes paid by upper income groups was greater than under President Clinton and highest in two decades:

source: NOfP chart; April 2009 CBO data (.xls file)

Still, copithorne translates this as "Bush passed tax cuts on the wealthy." No wonder progressives seem incapable of understanding that economic growth is the best anti-poverty program.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

It's a rhetoric thing, same as discussions of climate change, diplomacy, and education. What is important to the left is that you say things that sound like you are one of them, and will do things the way they like. What actually gets done is irrelevant. Bush can't possibly have reduced carbon emissions or improved education or have negotiated with foreign governments, because he's not the right sort of person. But if we get the right sort of person in power, then we don't have to worry any more, and all's well with the world.

suek said...

Does copithorn not comment on weekends?

Hmmm. Wonder if he gets paid...!

spunky said...

Just out of curiosity and not to change the subject, but do lefties sign up on some list or something to troll particular websites that are, well, not lefty?

I mean you seem to have "copithorne" here. Don Surber has "BobZim". Patterico, McGuire, and Protein Wisdom have "Semanticleo", "cynn", and "nishi" (under various names); Fred Lapides at Chicago Boyz... you get the picture.

What is weird is that these lefty trolls stay at "their website" as if they have some sort of responsibility, like a job. Day in, day out. Some days they get a lick in or two, but most of the time they annoy the regulars and generally embarrass themselves with their baldfaced lies and stupidity. They often couch their arguments with vile ad hominem attacks.

The aren't convincing anyone, that I know of, so what's they payoff? They persist as if they are or perhaps because theres something else?

I dunno; like I said sorry, I wasn't trying to change the subject - I think the "Wonder if he gets paid" comment above just set something off.


Carl said...

To be fair to copithorne, I lured him here from Assistant Village Idiot. I'm happy to have him--or anyone who stays away from profanity and invective--comment here

OBloodyHell said...

I dunno, Carl. A troll is a troll is a troll. The language it's couched in is irrelevant. And the danger with someone like copi is that he looks like he's being reasonable when he's not. So you actually have to take the time to refute him, rather than ignoring him.

So his presence becomes a massive time-waste with little benefit.

suek said...

>>So you actually have to take the time to refute him...>>

And if you don't, then his statement stands as unopposed, which is the same as "accepted".

copithorne has also shown up here:

although there seems to be an "assigned" troll already - one "Just Visiting". I'm inclined to agree with Spunky - it really does seem as if there's a Lib Central that assigns trolls to certain blogs to spout the talking points ad infinitum. And they _are_ persistent.

Anonymous said...

There's a tiresome back and forth on this issue. When a conservative points out what you've pointed out, the liberal says, OK, but the rich have a disproportionate share of the income.

The answer -- the real, true test of progressivity -- is to look at share of taxes paid divided by share of income received for different segments of the population by income distribution. Not surprisingly, the US does have a progressive income tax, thus measured. What is surprising is that the US tax system is more progressive than the tax systems of most EU countries by this measure.

Of course, many lefties are functionally innumerate, so this won't be convincing to them.

Heritage Foundation has the data somewhere on their site. I can dig it up if you'd like, Carl.


Carl said...


Yes, I'd be very interested in a link to such data.

copithorne said...

George Bush lowered marginal tax rates on the wealthy from 39% to 36%. He also lowered capital gains taxes.

Is it possible that you are unaware of this? If so, please look into it.

That fact completely substantiates my assertion “George Bush lowered taxes on the wealthy.”

I don’t understand why you believe the fact that George Bush lowered other people’s taxes falsifies my statement. There is no logic involved in that perception. I would say that the belief that the fact that George Bush lowered other people’s taxes falsifies the fact that George Bush lowers taxes on the wealthy comes from a sense of guilt. When I repeat the fact that George Bush lowered taxes on the wealthy that contacts your sense of guilt and you look for statements that relieve the guilt rather than statements that counter the facts involved.

Yes, under the Bush administration, the wealthy got wealthier while the middle class stayed in place or fell behind. We now know that a lot of this wealth was functionally fraudulent exploitation of a bubble. So, they paid more taxes. We now understand that is not a stable basis for economic growth. Instead, we need to focus on developing a strong middle class.

Yes, the wealthy pay more because we have more inequality of income than in Europe. Under Republican administrations, inequality of wealth increases and economic growth decreases. Under Democratic administrations inequality of wealth decreases and economic growth increases. My preference is for the latter.

Anonymous said...

Carl, it's OECD data, by the way, but adds some heft to the point:

--Scurvy Oaks

Anonymous said...

Sorry, the "but" was meant to be "which"

--Scurvy Oaks

suek said...

>>Instead, we need to focus on developing a strong middle class.>>

How would you define "a strong middle class"?

How would you differentiate a society with "a strong middle class" from what we have in the US today?

OBloodyHell said...

> How would you differentiate a society with "a strong middle class" from what we have in the US today?

When ALL Americans have above-average incomes...


OBloodyHell said...

> George Bush lowered marginal tax rates on the wealthy from 39% to 36%. He also lowered capital gains taxes.

Is it possible that you are unaware of this? If so, please look into it.

That fact completely substantiates my assertion “George Bush lowered taxes on the wealthy.”


I think you just made that up. If not, it's taken out of context.

OBloodyHell said...

> Yes, under the Bush administration, the wealthy got wealthier while the middle class stayed in place or fell behind.

Inarguably a lie. An examination of the income quintiles shows no such change.

Further, in actual fact, America shows more mobility in terms of which quintile one belongs in than just about any other large nation.

Income PER EARNER Has Actually Risen For All Groups, And Rose Fastest For The Lowest Quintile


Census Data Show Significant Income Mobility

Then there's
This and This and This

or, if you prefer, on a tax basis:
Middle-Fifth Tax Burden: Lowest Level in Decades (the lower quintiles pay almost NO income taxes in the first place -- you can't cut what you don't pay -- Only copi could think that not getting a 50% discount on a zero payment is unfair.)

OBloodyHell said...


From the Census Bureau: Of households in the lowest income quintile in 2001, 28.6% were in a higher quintile in 2003; of those originally in the highest income quintile, 32.1% were in a lower quintile 2 years later.

In other words, in just a two-year period, 2 out of every 7 households in the lowest income quintile (bottom 20%) in 2001 moved up to a higher income group by 2003, and almost 1 out of every 3 households in the top income quintile in 2001 moved to a lower income group by 2003, suggesting significant income mobility over even very short periods of time.

Now go ahead, copi -- give us your lame "I don't believe any of this" response. Go on, we're waiting.

Carl said...

Lowering marginal tax rates doesn't necessarily reduce tax revenue produced, and it certainly doesn't automatically lower tax share. OBH's links are good; there's similar data in the posts linked in the main piece.

OBloodyHell said...

From last year:


Explaining Our U.S. Tax System with Beer

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. 'Since you are all such good customers,' he said, 'I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beers by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.'

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so: The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before and the first four continued to drink for free, but once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got $10!" "Yeah, that's right,"exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got TEN times more than I!" "That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!" "Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!" The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something very important....they didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D. Professor of Economics University of Georgia

OBloodyHell said...

> I would say that the belief that... comes from a sense of guilt.

And I would say that your head is shoved so far up your rectum that it's managed to stick back out the top.

In other words, all indications are that you're a living Klein Bottle.

Since that's mathematically impossible, I think it's got just the same truth value as your statement...

But, well, still: have you had any physicists look at your head? I mean, that thing has to have come from somewhere, and it may defy known laws of physics... so they might be particularly interested in it.

It certainly shows no grasp of the mathematical laws of this universe.

All I'm sayin' is, you should have that looked at.

copithorne said...

I was a little off. The top marginal rate went from 39.6% to 35%.

The link also indicates the tax cut cost 1.35 trillion dollars. That was money added to the debt.

Carl, were you also unaware that George Bush lowered marginal tax rates on the wealthy? Is that somebody nobody here knows about or is it just Bloody Hell? It was in all the papers.

Suek, I am looking for economic growth that is shared by all classes of society. I am looking for growth in median income. In the late nineties, economic growth was shared by all classes so that people were moving out of poverty and middle class people felt their economic situation was getting better and wealthy people were doing well. In the last decade, the nominal economic growth was only enjoyed by the wealthy getting wealthier. Middle class incomes were stagnant or declining. Poverty was increasing. This dynamic does not support long term stable growth.

copithorne said...

Here's one link documenting declining median income. Look at the chart too.

Median income declined during the Bush years.

And I've said that those figures will understate the degree of decline because much of the compensation gains are a statistical quirk in which medical inflation is higher than the CPI. So increased health care premiums looks statistically like a raise, but don't feel like one.

Most decisively politically is the poll in the linked article saying that most people experience their own economic as stagnant or falling behind. You guys want to argue against that, go ahead.

Carl said...


Your figures on declining middle-class income--like typically-cited figures on income inequality--are fatally flawed through use of unequal-sized income quintiles. Middle-class incomes actually have risen.

copithorne said...

I read your posts carefully. Thank you for your care.

The only figure I cited was declining median income. Your last post is the only one that touches on that. It confirms my statement that the Census Bureau asserts that median income declined during the Bush administration. I read your data closely and did not see anything that qualifies that fact.

Again, all the facts and figures you cite seem to address an interpretation you have that when I say "median income declined" you hear "Rich people are bloodsucking pigs." And then you are going to produce evidence that there is still class mobility and opportunity and so on.

Your second to last article does cite some successes of the Clinton administration. The increase in the EITC and the boom of the late 90's finally touched the poor and middle class. Those are the kinds of successes and policies that I think we should return to.

copithorne said...

One more point. It is true that I have made another argument that I have not substantiated. I have said that the economic growth of this Century has been enjoyed by the wealthy while middle class incomes have remained stagnant.

I do want to acknowledge that Carl has assembled a good amount of data to uphold an alternate view. So far, he's got the data and the evidence to support his view and I do not.

If I find the information and data that led me to that conclusion in the first place, I willl look to share it.

But there is a bottom line that I don't really mind this argument. I referred to a poll showing that middle class people feel that they are working harder for less, that they are falling behind. The argument here is the Republican argument of last year -- that we have become a nation of whiners. The feelings of the middle class that they are not getting ahead are delusional. That's such a loser as a political proposition for the Republican party that I can hardly be exercised to contend it.

OBloodyHell said...

> Suek, I am looking for economic growth that is shared by all classes of society.

No you're not. You're ignoring facts and banging a gong.


America has far more class mobility and opportunity for advancement than any other nation. BY FAR.

EVERYONE, from the lowliest clerk to the banking executive can wind up in a different quintile within a mere few years.

As the phrase goes, "A rising tide floats all boats" -- the steady flow of money allows vast numbers of people to improve their lot in life.

OBloodyHell said...

> I referred to a poll showing that middle class people feel that they are working harder for less, that they are falling behind.

This has nothing to do with REALITY. It has to do with IMPRESSIONS.

The vast array of things people think they "need" in life has steadily increased with time. In actual fact, most of it is total folderol.

Would I *like* digital cable with all 769,293,103.6 channels? Sure. On my 52" flat-panel screen with 500w subwoofers and 7.1 surround sound? Sure.

Do I need it? F* no!

So if someone decides they want it so much that they have to bust their ass even harder to pay extra for something NO ONE paid for 15 years ago, That's BUSH's Fault????

Oh, gimme a BREAK.

It's perception vs. reality.

Salaries have increased faster than inflation over the last 20-odd years. What has happened is people want to spend even more on gew-gaws than the increase. They aren't satisfied with a single, medium-sized home, they want a HUGE home with 5 bedrooms and a 3-car garage (despite having only one child), on a 3-acre lot in an expensive subdivision, adjacent to a golf-course... and a timeshare on the beach.

That's not saying that people should not want those things -- it's saying that when they raise their targets, and add more work to themselves to meet those targets, it's not the fault of ANY PotUS that they aren't happy that they're working so hard (and I'm also not going to go into the stats on the fact that people actually are working LESS than they did 50 years ago! About 5-6 hours a week, IIRC. You can probably find reference to that on the Carpe Diem site)

Further, the actual percentage of income devoted to basic necessities has actually declined in terms of hours worked. Again, this can be found at Carpe Diem.

OBloodyHell said...

In particular, This image/chart, from the final link by Carl @5:06, belies what you claim -- that "median income is stagnant". Across the entire range of income from the first through ninth decile, income growth has been roughly 3.3% to 3.8% over the last 11 years for each decile (as noted in that thread, the 10th decile is atypical, being open-ended, and thus an apples-to-oranges comparison).

In other words, no specific group is getting favored here.

Nor is any group losing substantial ground, either directly or in comparison to the other groups.

Again -- a rising tide floats all boats.

OBloodyHell said...

As I've commented here or elsewhere, the MSM has to be carefully mistrusted on many issues.

Wolf Howling has a key example why (emphasis mine):

You gotta love WaPo's new business model. It combines MSM reporting with our world's oldest profession. As one commentor at Michelle Malkin calls it, presstitution. They were organizing "a series of policy dinners" at the home of WaPo's publisher that were being marketed to lobbyists as a chance to "access to Obama administration officials, members of Congress and Post journalists in exchange for payments as high as $250,000." If you think about it, in the era of Obama, it certainly makes sense. I mean, we've been calling for the MSM and Obama to get a room for some time now.

... Or at least a back seat in a car in a dark alley somewhere, which seems even more appropriate for the kind of acts being performed.

Carl said...

Maybe copithorne only reads Newsweek--to his determent.