Thursday, February 02, 2006

Return to "The Twisted World of Harold W."

by Kyle Michaelis
Last week, the Omaha World-Herald's Harold W. Andersen had another ridiculously one-sided bit of pseudo-wisdom for his readers. He wrote:
If a falsehood is repeated often enough, it frequently masquerades as truth. You can repeat it without offering any explanation, facts or figures to support it and usually go unchallenged.

Such is an allegation that surfaced yet again in a recent, President Bush-bashing Pulse letter.

The writer implied that "tax cuts that overwhelmingly favor the wealthy" would not have been enacted if Al Gore had been elected president.

The facts are that income-tax revision legislation supported by Bush does not overwhelmingly favor the wealthy. The legislation included substantial income tax relief for middle-income taxpayers, especially those with children.

An estimated 8 million taxpayers at the bottom end of the income brackets were relieved of all income tax liability. Even a Bush-bashing tax-cut "analysis" in the New York Times acknowledged - if you read through the myriad of figures closely enough - that taxpayers "in the middle" would see their share of federal taxes decline by 2015.

It has been argued, of course, that reduction in rates on dividends and capital gains is of greater benefit to higher-income taxpayers. But remember these facts:

The rationale for lowering the tax rates on dividends was that they are double-taxed - first at the corporate income level, then when they are paid to stockholders as dividends. It is also worth noting that a very great many non-wealthy Americans also are stockholders who benefit from lower taxes on dividends and capital gains.

How ironic that Andersen has already provided his own best criticism? Surely this column tid-bit, like the vast majority of his work and a great deal of the World-Herald's editorial output, engages in the very falsehood masquerading as the truth of which he writes above. What an amazing feat of misdirection for Andersen to write of the deceitful power of repetition when his decades-long tenure at the World-Herald has been one long exercise in bending the will of the people to a newspaper's all-too-partisan ends.

How else can Andersen possibly explain his deceitful contention that Bush's tax cuts have not over-whelmingly favored the wealthy? Who is he kidding? He plays with the facts - confining his discussion to only income taxes - then relies on rhetoric about the New York Times being anti-Bush to suggest their "analysis" - which MUST BE BIASED because they're the New York Times - even agrees with him. Except, look, he provides no direct quotes, no actual figures, reading what he wants into the numbers knowing that he won't be challenged on it from his editorial page perch.

Here's some actual COMPREHENSIVE numbers for you to chew on (courtesy of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities):
The benefits that the tax cuts provide to different groups vary dramatically. New data from the Tax Policy Center show the effects in 2004 of the tax cuts that have already been enacted, including the corporate and estate tax cuts, as well as the individual income tax cuts. The Tax Policy Center data show that the combined effect of the tax cuts in 2004 is as follows:

* The one-fifth of households in the middle of the income spectrum will receive an average tax cut of $647.

* The top one percent of households will receive tax cuts averaging almost $35,000 — or 54 times as much as that received on average by those in the middle of the income spectrum.

* Households with incomes above $1 million will receive tax cuts averaging about $123,600. The tax cuts for millionaires will cause their after-tax income to jump by 6.4 percent, nearly three times the percentage increase received by the middle fifth.

The overall shares of the tax cuts that are going to different households also are illuminating. The Tax Policy Center data show that:

* In 2004, the middle 20 percent of households will receive 8.9 percent of the tax cuts.

* By contrast, millionaires — totaling just 0.2 percent of U.S. households — will receive 15.3 percent of the tax cuts. In other words, the small handful of millionaires will receive total tax cuts far larger than those received by the entire middle 20 percent of households.

* The tax cuts will confer more than $30 billion on the nation’s 257,000 millionaires in 2004 alone.

As uneven as the distribution of the tax cuts is in 2004, their distribution will become still more uneven over time. This is because the tax cuts of most benefit to the middle class are already fully in place while some of the tax cuts of most benefit to high-income households — such as the eventual elimination of the estate tax — are only partly in effect now or have yet to take effect at all. If the tax cuts were fully in place today, the middle fifth of households would receive essentially the same tax cut that they are scheduled to receive under 2004 law, while the top one percent would receive tax cuts substantially larger than under 2004 law.

Please read the full report. There's plenty more where that came from, and if that's not grossly favoring the wealthy at the expense of every other American, especially the middle class, I don't know what is.

There are your direct quotes. There are your facts. Challenge me. Please. Bring it on.

Feel that, Andersen? It's time - time to get out of the game. Your days of smokescreens, selective facts, and brainwashing are over. You just doesn't know it yet.


Blogger Knightn said...

Feel that, Andersen? It's time - time to get out of the game. Your days of smokescreens, selective facts, and brainwashing are over. You just doesn't know it yet.

this hits the nail on the head!!!

Anonymous Ted Kessler said...

Kyle, I wrote a letter to the OWH Public Pulse concerning the Andersen rant. Of course they severely edited it removing my best lines. I then got the wingnut response from two dedicated Bush groupies, Del Ostergaard and Eric Bowden. (Their letters didn't appear to be edited.) I will be sending a response directly to their homes as I can't trust the OWH to not distort what I write. What's interesting is that the progressive blogosphere is circling back on itself. I found the blog from a newsletter reference. The blogger was writing about the two nutcases that responded to my letter. Then I saw the reference to this blog on that blog, which then referred to the Andersen letter. Amazing!

Blogger Roger Snowden said...

Despite the predictions of your left-wing source, in fact federal revenue is up, not down.

The tax rate cuts in fact generated increasing revenue. People often confuse tax rates with tax revenue, so for the uneducated or naive this is understandable. Your Center on Budget and Policy Priorities apparently falls into that category.

Either that or they are entirely politically driven. But that would be cynical, so let's just give them the benefit of doubt and suppose they are merely stupid.

Consider a commercial retailer. If K-Mart needs to increase revenue, does it simply raise prices? In the face of stiff competition from Wal Mart?

If you still don't understand, ask any successful businessperson.

What is the legitimate purpose of tax policy anyway? Is it to achieve economic prosperity for citizens? Or to achieve some dark, vague notion of "social justice"? That should be the focus of debate, not sound bites about "tax cuts for the rich".

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...

Roger, there is no connection in your supposed two-pronged defense of Bush's tax policy. Of course, you can argue that these tax cuts increased revenue, but unless you have statistical data from another plain of existence where they never occurred it's not going to be anything more than conjecture.

The debate WE CAN have is about the legitimate ends of tax policy. Your daring to speak of social, I would call it "economic," justice as something dark and vague really speaks to nothing more than your biases. You're right on one thing - the real issue is "economic prosperity for citizens." The problem with Bush's tax cuts is that they advance the interests of the economic elite at the expense of the working class.

The numbers speak for themselves. You can contend that it all works out for the best in some "trickle-down" scheme, but the vast majority of economists and the weight of common sense don't offer much support.

Shucks, though, if you're content with the ever-widening income gap and the disappearing middle class, you just go ahead, believe whatever you want and feel free to call the rest of us "stupid" from the rafters.

Blogger Roger Snowden said...

Jeez, Kyle. Here, from the New York Times, of all places, last July:

"The big surprise has been in tax revenue, which is running nearly 15 percent higher than in 2004."

And this: "Most of the increase in individual tax receipts appears to have come from higher stock market gains and the business income of relatively wealthy taxpayers."

Tax cuts for the rich? Gee, increasing tax payments from the rich. How socially just! And what is the biggest source of revenue increase? Well, income from investments-- precisely where tax cuts "for the rich" were most controversial.

But, somehow this reality will not phase you, will it?

Federal tax revenue is up, not down, no matter what your leftist sources insist. And it's not trickle-down at all. Home ownership, for example, is at an all time high. Americans are wealthier than ever, at all levels.

Look around. Wake up.

Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...


I ask that you read the following article.

The Falling Income of the American Family

You have a funny notion of "wealthier than ever".


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