A brief discussion of taxes and income inequality: the rich pay 70% of all income taxes. Boo hoo.

“[Obama] repeated the old half-truth about millionaires not paying as much in taxes as their secretaries. (In reality, the top 10 percent of earners pay nearly 70 percent of all income taxes, according to the I.R.S. People in the richest 1 percent pay 31 percent of their income to the federal government while the average worker pays less than 14 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office.)”David Brooks

Timothy Noah responds (via: azspot): David Brooks Is Unwell

Oh, please. The top 10 percent pays nearly 70 percent of all income taxes because the top 10 percent makes half the income–49.74 percent, including capital gains, before the recession and only slightly less now… The relevant statistic isn’t what proportion of the nation’s taxes comes from the rich. It’s what proportion of the rich’s income gets paid in taxes. Brooks cites a Congressional Budget Office report that says people in the richest 1 percent pay 31 percent of their income in taxes to the federal government. Boo hoo. What he doesn’t say is that back in 1979, on the eve of the Reagan revolution, the richest 1 percent paid 37 percent of their income in taxes to the federal government, even though its share of the nation’s income was much lower than it is now (34 percent, including capital gains). Effective tax rates on top earners didn’t change as much as many people think during the past 30 years, but they did go down (except for a brief uptick in the early Clinton years). For the very richest Americans, the drop was more precipitous. As recently as 2000 the 400 richest Americans paid 22.3 percent of their adjusted gross income in federal taxes. In 2008 (the last year for which data are available) they paid 18.1 percent. Again, this occurred while their income share was going up, not down.

Obama isn’t even talking about making the rich pay a higher proportion of their income than the middle class in taxes. God forbid! He’s merely saying (with his proposed “Buffet Rule”) that the rich shouldn’t get away with paying a smaller proportion…

The result of paying a smaller proportion of one’s income to taxes, from Mark Thoma: “The Great Income Shift”

This great income shift means the average middle-income American family had about $9,000 less after-tax income in 2007, and an average household in the top 1 percent had $741,000 more, than they would have had if the 1979 income distribution had remained. Here’s how this looks in graph and table form:

IN OTHER WORDS this ‘great income shift’ means that there has been a bottom-to-top income redistribution going on since 1979 with tax laws. The 99 percent pay proportionally more of their income to taxes than the wealthiest 1 percent. Meanwhile the GOP and their benefactors want to convince us that the wealthiest should pay even LESS of their income to taxes than they do now. The Republican party’s plan for a reduction in revenue is to cut programs and services used by the 99 percent.

Related:

PHOTOS: Teaparty vs. #OccupyWallStreet — WHY have the media taken one group more seriously?

Why?

Photo credits:

Real Populism vs. Corporate PR: #OccupyWallStreet vs. the Teaparty™

Excellent post on how true grassroots movements do not have wealthy and powerful sponsors like Fox “News” and corporations and the Koch brothers:

Real Populism vs. Corporate PR

There is one not so obvious or immediately noticeable difference between the Occupy Wall Street protests and your average Tea Party protest. Sure, the crowds seem to be younger, signs featuring Obama as Hitler are entirely absent, and there aren’t many people who are dressed like Uncle Sam sneezed stars and stripes all over them. There are no guns or demands to see the president’s birth certificate. But the less obvious difference is in buses. While the Tea Party protests always feature big buses covered with flags and eagles, buses at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are used to haul the protesters to jail.

I bring this up because teapartiers like to pretend they’re running their own show. That their protests are grassroots and their organizations are of their own construction. But those buses carting them around from protest to protest didn’t just appear out of nowhere. Someone paid for them, someone gave them their ultra-patriotic paint jobs, someone’s buying all the gas. All that takes funding and, as much as the ‘baggers like to pretend they’re an independent movement, they’re all bought and paid for— and then moved from square to square like pawns on a chessboard.

On the other hand, Greg Sargent has this to say about the Wall Street protests:

…If there’s one thing that’s growing clearer by the hour, it’s that this is an entirely organic effort, one that’s about nobody but the protestors themselves. In this sense, we’re seeing a replay of the Wisconsin protests. Those ended up falling just short of what activists had hoped to achieve, but their months-long showing was still important — it demonstrated that left wing populism is still alive and well and sent an important message about the mood of the country. The key was that it grew organically with little to no involvement from Beltway Dems and the White House.

If anything, Occupy Wall Street’s lack of outside encouragement from bigfoot Dems has been a strength, rather than a weakness. As major progressive groups debate how they can contribute to strengthening the movement — and how to give it specific direction and a specific agenda — the need to preserve its grassroots nature will remain paramount. Who knows where this will end up, but for now, this is another reminder that the Tea Party isn’t the only voice of popular discontentment over the economy. We don’t necessarily live in Tea Party Nation, after all.

Read the whole thing…

It’s also interesting how these protesters don’t feel the need to constantly reassure themselves and each other how ‘patriotic‘ they are. They just are.

#OccupyWallStreet BY THE NUMBERS: What’s actually “too big to fail” … 1% or 99%?

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka at the Take Back The American Dream summit:

Trumka said of Republicans, “If they want to have a debate on class warfare, we’ll have that debate,” because “It wasn’t our class that started the war on working Americans.”

Trumka used his time to illustrate many of the examples of what he termed the “strange morality” of the modern economy, from mass layoffs at Bank of America despite record profits to narratives in which “the jobless are blamed for the unemployment crisis.” He also noted that, “The years from 1997-2010 represented the first protracted decline in family income since the Great Depression.”

Yet, referring to the many debates in Washington this year, he asked “When are we going to recognize that this crisis is a jobs crisis, not a debt crisis?”

When it comes to the supercommitee charged with resolving said debt crisis, Trumka offered his take to great effect: “We’ll fight anyone from any party that tries to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits.”

[...] Trumka returned to the meat of his speech and his obvious rhetorical preferences: the economic crisis. “Americans want to work,” he intoned, “and we won’t stop fighting, shoving, pushing and kicking until every single one is back to work.”

And lest his opponents try to argue that “‘Government can’t create jobs,’” he promised his response would be, “‘Just you watch, we’ll make government create jobs.’”

To the Republican party and the 1% they represent:

The #OccupyWallStreet protests are not anti-capitalism

“Some of the protesters are even supporters of the ultra-capitalist Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). But the actual organizing principle of the demonstrations is to speak with moral clarity of the economic inequality of our current system. The purpose is not to attack capitalism but rather an industry whose wealth was guarded to the hilt by government intervention — backed up by trillons of dollars of taxpayer money through programs like the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and near-zero interest Federal Reserve lending — a form of government intervention that the banking industry received but millions of foreclosed on homeowners and debt-laden students did not get.”Memo To The Media: It’s Not ‘Anti-Capitalist’ To Protest An Industry That Was Saved By Trillions Of Taxpayer Dollars

Related:

From #OccupyWallStreet: Dear 1% …

image: CNN

Chicago Board of Trade has a message for #OccupyChicago #OccupyWallStreet

2011_10_5_one_percent.jpg
Image Credit: USAanon/”T”/OccupyChicago

Someone at the Board of Trade is getting cheeky with the Occupy Chicago protests. This photo was taken by someone at the protests. It shows offices at the Board of Trade Building eight stories up with “We Are The 1%” taped to the windows. If only someone could hurl rocks that high. (via: Chicagoist)

Hey, at least they’re being honest.

For #OccupyWallStreet, an immodest proposal: forgive the debt of the 99%

So my immodest proposal is simply this: Individuals and households in the bottom 99 percent who owe debt to any large financial institution that received federal government support during and after the 2008 crisis should see their debt forgiven. That would certainly stimulate the economy, as most people would suddenly find themselves with a great deal more money to spend on iPads (and food, and clothing, and housing, and healthcare). The debt can be forgiven by decree or if the government really wants to it can step in to pay it itself; I don’t much care either way. (Though it’d be nice to see it just wiped off the books, to enrage the banks.)

Let’s wipe the debt of the 99 percent off the books, tell the financial sector to eat it, and get on with our lives.

Alex Pareene | A proposed demand for Occupy Wall Street

Would that be fair? Sure it would.

REMEMBER AFTER 9-11 WHEN BUSH TOLD US TO GO SHOPPING, to “enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed“. Who do you suppose that benefited, exactly? He and his rich friends knew exactly what they were doing:

Median wages grew too little over the past 30 years to drive the kind of spending necessary to sustain the consumer economy. Instead, increasingly exotic forms of credit filled the gap, as the wealthy offered the middle class alluring credit card deals and variable-interest subprime loans. This allowed rich investors to keep making money and everyone else to feel like they were keeping up—until the whole system imploded. -Study: Income Inequality Kills Economic Growth

NOW THIS:

Using 2007 figures, sociologist William Domhoff points out that the top one percent have five percent of the nation’s personal debt while the bottom 90 percent have 73 percent of total debt. The Top 5 Facts You Should Know About The Wealthiest One Percent Of Americans

Meanwhile in Greece… #OccupyWallStreet #OccupyGreece

Thousands strike in Greece to protest government cuts

Police fired tear gas at stone-throwing youths in central Athens on Wednesday, where thousands of striking state sector workers marched against cuts the government says are needed to save the nation from bankruptcy.

Youths broke up marble paving slabs and hurled the chunks of rock at police in full riot gear. The police responded by firing tear gas grenades, chasing the protesters through the square into surrounding streets. (Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images)

via: nationalpost

Things I have no problem with: new taxes on the wealthiest Americans

Seeking to consolidate party support for President Obama’s jobs bill, Senate Democrats are considering a proposal to impose a five percent surtax on millionaires to pay for the legislation, according to two party aides. As currently written, Obama wants the joint Super Committee to increase its deficit reduction target by enough to pay for the whole jobs bill. That way its cost could be offset by spending cuts and revenue measures and other reforms that have bipartisan support. But failing that, Obama’s bill would trigger a series of new taxes on wealthy Americans, including oil and gas companies, hedge fund managers and others.Dems Float Surtax On Millionaires To Pay For Jobs Bill

Eric Cantor said yesterday he won’t even bring the jobs bill to the floor for a vote.

Over the past 3-4 decades, the one percent has not only benefited enormously through the American tax system, but especially during the Bush years. And in the past 10+ years, the wealthiest have created no jobs to speak of, even though they are taking in more of the nation’s income than at any time since the 1920s. Believe it or not, our income inequality is currently worse than Ethiopia’s (!!), which hurts not only our overall economy, but every person who isn’t wealthy. So I have absolutely no problem with new taxes on the one percent.

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.”

President Reagan: Socialist, class warfare advocate

A great American said that he thought it was ‘crazy’ that certain tax loopholes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying ten percent of his salary.” — President Obama referring to what President Reagan had said in the past about taxes

SEE VIDEO of President Reagan talking about the unfairness of the American tax system, arguing for the same things President Obama is arguing for today.

HERE’S WHAT GWB had to say about it.

TOP FIVE FACTS about the one percent from Think Progress:

  1. The top 1 percent of Americans owns 40 percent of the nation’s wealth
  2. The top 1 percent of Americans take home 24 percent of national income
  3. The top 1 percent of Americans own half of the country’s stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
  4. The top 1 percent of Americans have only 5 percent of the nation’s personal debt
  5. The top 1 percent are taking in more of the nation’s income than at any other time since the 1920s

“I think it’s dangerous, this class warfare.” — Mitt Romney on #OccupyWallStreet

(via: The Caucus) Not coincidentally, Mittens has become a favorite of Wall Street donors.

image: divineirony

What gives #OccupyWallStreet power? The masses who want the system to work the way they were promised

But this is why I’m taking Occupy Wall Street — or, perhaps more specifically, the ‘We Are The 99 Percent’ movement — seriously. There are a lot of people who are getting an unusually raw deal right now. There is a small group of people who are getting an unusually good deal right now. That doesn’t sound to me like a stable equilibrium.

The organizers of Occupy Wall Street are fighting to upend the system. But what gives their movement the potential for power and potency is the masses who just want the system to work the way they were promised it would work. It’s not that 99 percent of Americans are really struggling. It’s not that 99 percent of Americans want a revolution. It’s that 99 percent of Americans sense that the fundamental bargain of our economy — work hard, play by the rules, get ahead — has been broken, and they want to see it restored.

Ezra Klein

Income inequality severely hampers economic growth, and the USA has severe income inequality

HERE’S SOME AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM FOR YOU: did you know that income inequality in the United States is currently MORE UNEQUAL than countries like the Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, and Pakistan? Ethiopia, people! WTF!

Income inequality in the U.S. is higher than at any other time since the Great Depression, and the U.S. is currently more unequal than countries like the Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, and Pakistan. Though Republicans dismiss concerns over the gap as “class warfare,” the ever-increasing level of disparity has tangible consequences, leading to poor work performance and a greater gap in life expectancy. And now, according to a new Finance & Development study, income inequality also “kills economic growth.”  Study Shows Income Inequality Severely Hampers Economic Growth

REMEMBER AFTER 9-11 WHEN BUSH TOLD US TO GO SHOPPING, to “enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed“. Who do you suppose that benefited, exactly? He and his rich friends knew exactly what they were doing:

Median wages grew too little over the past 30 years to drive the kind of spending necessary to sustain the consumer economy. Instead, increasingly exotic forms of credit filled the gap, as the wealthy offered the middle class alluring credit card deals and variable-interest subprime loans. This allowed rich investors to keep making money and everyone else to feel like they were keeping up—until the whole system imploded. -Study: Income Inequality Kills Economic Growth

And this:

Using 2007 figures, sociologist William Domhoff points out that the top one percent have five percent of the nation’s personal debt while the bottom 90 percent have 73 percent of total debt. The Top 5 Facts You Should Know About The Wealthiest One Percent Of Americans

WHY SHOULD THE WEALTHY PAY (SLIGHTLY) HIGHER TAXES? One reason is the economy, which will never bounce back until there’s some kind of a reversal in the inequality of our country’s economic system. Since 1980, the wealthy have profited enormously from the increased productivity of its workforce, while its workforce have made no gains in either wages or take home income in the same period.

(Click for larger image)

WHO DROVE THE PRODUCTIVITY HIGHER AND HIGHER in the chart above? It was the workers, middle class and working class Americans. We’ve all worked very hard in the past 30 years, so why aren’t we all rich — or, at the very least, why didn’t our wages and income gains keep pace with the richest of the rich as it did from 1947 – 1979?

Related:

FLASHBACK: Watch Presidents Reagan and Obama argue for the SAME THING — closing tax loopholes for the wealthy

WATCH this side-by-side video showing Presidents Reagan and Obama arguing for the exact same thing: Closing tax loopholes for the very wealthy. (via: Think Progress)