Wednesday, July 11, 2012

WP Factchecker Taxes My Patience

 On July 3rd, @BarackObama tweeted “FACT: In 2010 and 2011, Romney paid less than 15% in taxes on $42.5 million in income—much less than what many middle-class families pay.”

This was too much for Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post's Fact Checker, who gave the President 3 "Pinocchios" for misleading the public. Kessler does not dispute what percentage Romney paid, but rather what percentage a middle class American pays in taxes. Using figures from Kessler's own column, Obama was indeed correct if you are a glass half full kind of person: 

Effective Tax Rates (including payroll tax paid by employer)
Bottom 20 percent (0-$17,000):         1 percent
Second 20 Percent ($17,000-$33,500): 7.8 percent
Middle 20 percent ($33,500-59,500): 15.5 percent
Fourth 20 Percent ($59,000-$103,500): 18.7 percent
Top 20 Percent ($103,500+):  24.3 percent
Romney paid an effective rate of 13.9 percent in 2010 and 15.4 percent in 2011, lower than the mid point of 15.5 percent. Kessler does point out that, contrary to most Republican and TEA Party rhetoric, "most Americans pay a relatively small percentage of their income in taxes."  What bothers me is that many million and billionaires pay rates similar to those of the struggling middle class. 

Dividing income into quintiles is misleading. Is a household that makes over $60,000 truly upper class? What about $103,501, which gets you into the top 20 percent? Even when he was unemployed, Mitt Romney was able to make $21.7 million in 2010 and $20.9 million in 2011. Romney is clearly in a different social-economic class than a small business owner making a little more than $104,000 a year, but Romney's apologists would prefer you not think of that.  Paying high taxes to get the country out of a crisis is patriotic. Rigging the system so the wealthiest 1/1000th can have tax loopholes is not.  

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