It's been light blogging lately, and it's certainly not been because there's nothing going on in the world. In addition to being very busy, though, I find that the smart kids in the neighborhood always say what I'm thinking before I get around to writing anything.
Of course, sometimes the smart kids point something out that I didn't even notice. This is the case with the recent posts by Atrios and Kevin Drum on the mendaciousness of the Wall Street Journal editorial page. The issue: The tax burden on the wealthy. Here's Kevin Drum:
Now, it's true that the rich and the upper middle class pay the bulk of U.S. taxes. But you know why? It's because the rich and the upper class also have the bulk of the money: the top 20% of taxpayers pay 67% of federal taxes, but they also earn 60% of all income.
And how about the super rich? Here's the Journal's half of the story: according to their tax wonks, the share of federal taxes paid by the top .1% of the country — those making roughly a million bucks a year — doubled between 1979 and 1999, rising from about 5% to about 11%.
But here's the second half of the story that the Journal mysteriously left out: during that same period, the share of income received by the top .1% tripled, from about 3% to about 10%.
So in 1979 the super-rich earned 3% of the money and paid 5% of the taxes. In 1999 the super-rich earned 10% of the money and paid 11% of the taxes. The Journal clearly has a different definition of "grew more progressive" than the rest of us.
In fact, these numbers might start you wondering. If the income share of the super-rich tripled but their tax share only doubled, doesn't that mean that their tax rates must have gone down? Indeed it does.
Of course, these are the same people who, in 2000, accused Al Gore of using "fuzzy math"* on economic issues, when what they really meant was simply "math."
*And, by the way, "fuzzy math" is a real thing. Computer's use fuzzy math all the time. Fuzzy math is essential to much of the high-level computer programming being done today. If George Bush has a problem with "fuzzy math" then it's simply further evidence that he doesn't understand the world in which he dwells.