by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Obama says he’d rather rely on math than class warfare in pushing his tax proposals. Washington Examiner online opinion editor David Freddoso is willing to take him at his word:
Obama tried to blunt anticipated criticism of his remarks with a parenthetical: “This is not class warfare. It’s math.” But the actual math tells a very different story
In 2009, about 237,000 individual income tax filers reported adjusted gross income of $1 million or more. Taken together, these filers — families and small businesses — made a grand total of $722 billion, and paid $178 billion of that in income taxes.
Their effective federal income tax rate was 24.6 percent, between three and four times the effective rate on middle-income families that pull in $50,000 to $75,000 per year.
This million-plus crowd — who comprise less than 0.2 percent of all taxpayers — made 10.6 percent of all income in 2009 and paid 20.5 percent of all individual income taxes.
To be sure, the wealthy can and should pay more in taxes than the poor. The point here is that they already do pay more — a lot more. So when we discuss tax increases on the wealthy, we aren’t really talking about whether we should be letting “millionaires and billionaires” slide on their obligations to society.
We are really talking about how disproportionately large their share of the tax burden has to become before liberals finally decide it’s “fair.”
For Obama, the answer to that question is based on what politicians decide to spend. “The rich” — and that means everyone making over $200,000 per year — will always be failing to pull their weight until they are covering the spread between what government takes in and what irresponsible politicians dish out.
If the president doesn’t understand that math, we’re in even worse shape than we thought.