Joe Biden

Taxes Are the Price We Pay for Civilization Joe Biden

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Call off the search-and-rescue teams! Democratic vice presidential Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), last seen having a Bette Davis as Baby Jane moment with a wheelchair-bound political supporter and questioning the wisdom of his even being on the ticket (Hillary Clinton, he told a rally, "might have been a better pick than me"), has surfaced again.

This time, the Delaware destroyer is telling rich folks that paying taxes is patriotic:

"We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people," Biden said in an interview on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Noting that wealthier Americans would indeed pay more, Biden said: "It's time to be patriotic … time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut."

More here.

Regarding the Obama and McCain proposed tax plans, analysis from the Tax Policy Center says:

Both John McCain and Barack Obama have proposed tax plans that would substantially increase the national debt over the next ten years, according to a newly updated analysis by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. Compared to current law, TPC estimates the Obama plan would cut taxes by $2.9 trillion from 2009-2018. McCain would reduce taxes by nearly $4.2 trillion. Obama would give larger tax cuts to low- and moderate-income households and pay some of the cost by raising taxes on high-income taxpayers. In contrast, McCain would cut taxes across the board and give the biggest cuts to the highest-income households.

Full PDF report, with really great charts of average per-income-quintile changes I couldn't reproduce here for some technical reason.

The short version of the tax plans of both candidates is that Obama would ding top-income earners while giving larger breaks to lower-income earners. McCain wouldn't ding top-income earners. Here's one analysis based on Tax Policy Center sources:

According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, 60 percent of taxpayers make about $66,000 or less a year.

Under McCain's plan, you'd see anywhere from a 0.2% to 0.7% tax cut, which means you'd save anwhere from $19 to $319 dollars a year.

Under Obama's plan, tax cuts would range from 2.4% to 5.5%.  You'd save between about $570.00 dollars up to $1,042.00.

But what if you're somewhere in the middle, which means you're making anywhere from $66,000 all the way up to $227,000.

"I think McCain and Obama will do about the same for the middle grouping but what you'll get in exchange is more debt on the backs of our children," said [economist Mark] Pingle.

Now for the top tier earners.  Under McCain's plan, those earning between $227,000 or more will see the biggest tax cuts.

But under Obama's plan, the wealthiest Americans will either see no change or higher taxes, to the tune of more than $700,000 a year.

More here.

I actually don't understand that last line on the sentence level; I guess it means that Bill Gates might be hit for an extra 700K?

But here's a basic question: Assume you're making $50,000 a year. Does the difference between a $319 break and $1,042 get you going as a voter? I would prefer to pay less taxes in any given situation, but I'm interested in how voters process this sort of information, assuming they consume it in the first place. What's the price point for a tax cut? Or a tax increase?

Or assume you're making $500,000 a year. Does the idea of your taxes staying flat or going up by, say, $5,000, get you moving? Or would it need to be much bigger of an increase before you vote your pocketbook? (This latter question is the topic of the excellent 2002 collection edited by Joel Slemrod, Does Atlas Shrug?: The Economic Consequences of Taxing the Rich).

At the same time, we shouldn't lose sight that Joe Biden is right: From a purely strategic position, Hillary Clinton would have been a better pick than he was. 

NEXT: McCain's Polls: Wha' Happen'?

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  1. Picking between “tax-and-spend” and “borrow-into-debt-and-mortgage-the-future-of-everything-and-spend”, I’m gonna prefer the former fairly strongly.

    Spending money and not having income; we have a word for this, it is called “irresponsible”. Other, less polite words impugning intelligence also come to mind.

    In this case, it seems that McCain is “more irresponsible” than Obama. On the order of Trillions of dollars.

  2. LMNOP,

    Makes me wish there were some kind of a third option. “Don’t tax, don’t spend” or something.

  3. I’d take Obama’s tax cut anyday. Frankly I do have class aggression, but not because I think they should pay more taxes, but because they have not done enough to lower all of our taxes. Wealth equals power, so apparently the wealthy like us all paying taxes, or they just aren’t trying hard enough to lower them. When forced to choose between two socialists, I’ll take the one that gives me the lower bill. I wouldn’t vote for either though, they all sound the same to me when I read those fancy political journals, like a bunch of elitist “shepherds”.

  4. I could see Biden giving a speech on the Senate floor.

    “Is John McCain here today? Hey, there you are. Raise your hands up so everyone can see you. C’mon, don’t be shy, raise your hands. Higher. HIGHER! What’s your problem, man?”

  5. Picking between “tax-and-spend” and “borrow-into-debt-and-mortgage-the-future-of-everything-and-spend”, I’m gonna prefer the former fairly strongly.

    That’s not really the options. It’s more like “borrow and spend” vs “borrow and spend” with the difference being how much we borrow and who we spend it on. All of which gets even more problematic as the dollar becomes worth it’s weight in paper.

    doom
    Dooom
    DOOOOM

  6. Elemenope,

    well said. IMHO, it’s the spending money with inadequate income that has caused much of the economic problem we are in. That middle class mentioned above is real bad about doing it. And they are always willing to get a little more money for “nothing.” Either too stupid or too lazy to see the truth of the matter, they see Obama as their friend that wants to hope them out of their trouble. And they cast a lot of votes.

    The way the news showed it last night, McCain was all for an unregulated market until now when it bit him (and a few hundred million others) on the ass. Now he’s all for some rulez. It don’t look good for him.

  7. “Is John McCain here today? Hey, there you are. Raise your hands up so everyone can see you. C’mon, don’t be shy, raise your hands. Higher. HIGHER! What’s your problem, man?”

    We’re joined today by the esteemed former Labor Secretary, Robert Reich. Come up, Bob, stand up. C’mon, stand up, let the people see you.

  8. The real problem with taxes is compliance costs. I read recently (I believe in Reason) that the cost of complying with the tax code exceeds the taxes themselves.

    A truly creative solution would be to radically simplify the code and eliminate tax liability for any taxpayer with income less than, say, $30K per year.

    The rich would happily pay more in return for lower compliance costs.

    The complicated code does keep a number of rent seekers employed so don’t hold your breath.

    Bill Walsh

  9. Makes me wish there were some kind of a third option. “Don’t tax, don’t spend” or something.

    Vastly preferable. Not in the cards this time around.

    It’s more like “borrow and spend” vs “borrow and spend” with the difference being how much we borrow and who we spend it on.

    I think when the differences are counted in the trillions, those are real differences.

    I agree with your invocation of the drums in the deep, however. Eventually the bottom will fall out completely.

  10. Am I supposed to get excited over being saved this kind of chump change? Give me a fucking break. Either cut spending enough to actually cut taxes enough to make a difference, or fuck off. I am so sick of these two assholes.

  11. I have yet to see McCain or Obama address this issue: We always talk about taxing the “wealthiest” Americas, which is usually defined as those earning over $200,000 or so per year.

    How many of those earning such incomes are earning that income through S corporations? Wouldn’t that extra tax expense be passed along to the workers? At some point, it isn’t really taxing the “wealthiest” is it? Not sure it ends up being a significant number of tax payers though.

  12. At the same time, we shouldn’t lose sight that Joe Biden is right: From a purely strategic position, Hillary Clinton would have been a better pick than he was.

    Except that the dirk wielding Clinton would become president on January 24 ? 3 days. 😉

  13. That middle class mentioned above is real bad about doing it. And they are always willing to get a little more money for “nothing.”

    That is definitely the crux of what terrifies me about people who claim they will cut taxes and keep spending level. Borrowing is (as Ron Paul I think put it very well), a hidden tax, because it is a tax on future assets, rather than present day pocketbooks. People want to believe they can get something for nothing, not keeping in mind this is a TANSTAAFL world.

  14. Every dollar they don’t take away from me is a dollar they don’t waste on the War on Terror or the War on Drugs or the War on Pornographers or etc.

    Except that’s not really true. They spend the dollars anyway and let the tab run, and run, and run, . . . . .

  15. sage,

    The best political gaffe I ever saw involved Joe Lieberman going to a church in South Carolina in 2004. The pastor was going on about loving Jesus, and asking everyone “Do YOU love Jesus? Do YOU lover Jesus?”

    Then she turns to him and says, “Senator Lieberman, do YOU love Jesus?”

    Yikes!

  16. The correct way to increase taxes is in small increments. The correct way to cut taxes is in large chunks.

    This works both economically and politically. And is reason #578 why “gas tax holiday” is a dumbass idea.

  17. Either cut spending enough to actually cut taxes enough to make a difference, or fuck off. I am so sick of these two assholes.

    Wholehearted concurrence here. The lack of political bravery is not surprising but is dismaying.

  18. That’s a good one, joe.

    Wasn’t there some band playing in Detroit and at the end of the concert they said “Good night, Chicago, we love you!”

    However, as far as political gaffes go, they are called “Bushisms” for a reason.

    Now I have to get back to work so I can put food on my family.

  19. I misread that as “Texans are the price you pay for Joe Biden”

    Between Johnson and Bush, that’s a scary proposition.

  20. Either stop using all the public services, or pay your taxes and shut the fuck up, creepy market fundamentalist wingnuts.

  21. Coming from a guy calling himself Tony Soprano, that has layers of stupid and absurdity that I can’t even begin to fully comprehend.

  22. I think I smell a Tony.

  23. Too bad neither candidates tax plan is…

    Replace income taxes with a tax on material throughput that first targets carbon and other greenhouse gases. There are some fairly well worked out schemes for this.

    http://www.carbontax.org/

  24. Either stop using all the public services, or pay your taxes and shut the fuck up, creepy market fundamentalist wingnuts

    Pay our protection money and we won’t get hurt, right, Tony?

  25. Has either of them identified a single area where they might cut spending?

  26. Either stop using all the public services, or pay your taxes and shut the fuck up, creepy market fundamentalist wingnuts.

    I’d be thrilled to pay my taxes if the feds would limit themselves to national defense, the states would limit themselves to building highways and parks, the cities would limit themselves to building streets and libraries.

  27. The Invisible Man slathers himself with cold cream, and reminds us he’s really out there.

    And an Extremely Simple (if not totally flat) Tax plan would actually get me to perk up my ears.

  28. Either stop using all the public services, or pay your taxes and shut the fuck up, creepy market fundamentalist wingnuts.

    We would if we could.

    As for the tax cuts, the McCain camp keeps saying that Obama will raise taxes, but is obviously not specific that it will only be for those making $250k. If everyone knew that 90%, according to an independent group, would get a tax cut, I think Obama would have the clear edge.

    And what seems to be getting ignored is that McCain wants to transform the healthcare system, eliminating the employer based system. He’ll do this by considering healthcare as taxable income, so a lot of people would end up with a big tax hike. Now, I agree with ending the employer based healthcare system, but he’s not really telling anyone he’s going to do it, and he’s not telling anyone they’ll probably be paying a lot more, at least in the short term.

  29. Hey Tony –
    Since you get to keep some of your money to spend on goods and services of your choosing, you have to vote for the Libertarian candidate! HA! And you get to stop whining about not having more public services!

  30. Does anyone really believe the combination of Obama and Dem Congress won’t raise taxes on just about everyone making more than $50K a year?

    Obama has already proposed something like a trillion dollars in new spending, and he’s already broken half the promises he made in the campaign.

  31. While I understand the political motive behind “borrow and spend” I can’t understand who would loan the money, when recovery of the bad loan is nil. Why would the Russians, Chinese and Saudis keep pouring good money into a rat hole? At some point, maybe even now, the collapse must come.

  32. Why would the Russians, Chinese and Saudis keep pouring good money into a rat hole?

    Don’t forget the Japanese!

    The short answer is, they have to. They’ve been buying US debt to inflate the dollar so their exporters can enjoy a massive trade surplus. At this point, the Chinese and Japanese would suffer an economic collapse far worse than our own if that went away. The Saudis don’t really own a lot of debt; they actually owed a huge debt before the recent oil price spike.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_debt#Foreign_ownership

    We’re the consumer of last resort for the entire world’s producers. Russia is already finding out that when the US coughs, the rest of the world gets pneumonia. Their stock market fell 20% in two days, which would be like the Dow losing 2400 points.

  33. Obama has already proposed something like a trillion dollars in new spending, and he’s already broken half the promises he made in the campaign.

    So, because politicians break their campaign promises, we can count on Obama to fully fund everything he’s promised during the campaign?

  34. compliance costs are maddening. The other think that kills me logically is the huge payroll taxes which are regressive that theoretically are a welfare type benefit(for old widows who would otherwise be eating catfood)….but in practice tend to benefit relatively wealthy(net worth) 68 year olds at the expense of poor(net worth) young people who work full time.

    For that matter why is the quintileranking always broken down in salaries instead of by net worth?

    I know the answer to better f the middle class.
    30 something couple with two decent jobs, student loans, childcare, and living in a high cost of living city an actual need for a decent size house and two cars is judged to be rich for making 200k a year even if net worth is barely positive, while rich old people with three houses and no loans are considred poor according to the common way of looking at it.

  35. Does anyone really believe the combination of Obama and Dem Congress won’t raise taxes on just about everyone making more than $50K a year?

    There is really no reason to believe that a McCain presidency won’t increase total spending even more than an Obama presidency.

    In the long run, my tax burden is controlled by the total amount of spending.

  36. Ah, I can almost hope Obama gets elected. Screams from folks who have been reamed by a supposed friend are always so much more vivid than screams from those reamed by a believed enemy.

    The man plans spending programs in the trillions, and he will get spending programs in the hundreds of millions from a Democratic controlled congress without cutting any single existing program, war or other item. He is not going to squeeze that kind of money out of folks who are already paying steep rates, let alone folks who can hire individual Harvard lawyers like him to lobby for them.

  37. tony soprano is right. We have public services, therefore we need to eliminate the 1st amendment.

  38. The other think that kills me logically is the huge payroll taxes which are regressive that theoretically are a welfare type benefit(for old widows who would otherwise be eating catfood)….but in practice tend to benefit relatively wealthy(net worth) 68 year olds at the expense of poor(net worth) young people who work full time.

    There’s virtually nothing McCain could do to make me support him other than adopt the LPA platform wholesale, but one thing that would get close would be if he came out and announced a Social Security and Medicare reform plan that instituted means testing for both programs.

  39. If wealthy Democrats think it’s “patriotic” to pay higher taxes, let them — just make the tax voluntary.

    How about a federal “tax me more fund” so everyone who gets frustrated that most voters don’t want to raise taxes can pay at the level that makes them feel like they are contributing their fair share.

  40. So, I’d get around 2% more after-tax if their stump speeches are true (ha).

    I could care less about my tax rate moving within a narrow range, because ultimately taxes are just one part of how spending is financed, and spending growth seems like a much larger issue here. I understand why people look at the cash flow aspect, but the idea that either plan actually appeals to people — especially those who would ultimately foot the bill for Obama’s entitlement spending growth — seems ridiculous.

    They’ve been buying US debt to inflate the dollar so their exporters can enjoy a massive trade surplus. At this point, the Chinese and Japanese would suffer an economic collapse far worse than our own if that went away.

    Indeed, which is the sort of short-sighted meddling that’s had me frustrated at Japan for as long as I’ve understood economic issues.

  41. Promises are cheap. Hope and Change are expensive.

    As Joe Biden put it, paying higher taxes is your patriotic duty, and under my administration Americans will be forced to be the most patriotic they’ve ever been!

    I’m Barack Obama, and I approved this message.

  42. I like the Boston Tea Party’s platform: never increase government spending or taxes, and increase the individual standard deduction every year.

  43. The real problem with taxes is compliance costs.

    I always thought that the real problem with taxes is that they are mandatory.

  44. Indeed, which is the sort of short-sighted meddling that’s had me frustrated at Japan for as long as I’ve understood economic issues.

    Everyone thought they were geniuses in the 1980s.

    In the 90s, not so much.

    China’s following the same model, but their financial system is very, very shaky and corrupt, and the 10% growth that hides that fact can’t last forever. When the fall comes, it won’t be pretty.

  45. The real tax problem is that there is no check & balance, we send these clowns to Washington and then they get to run amok. If we can vote these yahoo’s in electronically, maybe we could vote on out taxes & spending plans electronically. otherwise there’s too many vested intersts in the current systenm for any rational change to ever occur

  46. China’s following the same model, but their financial system is very, very shaky and corrupt, and the 10% growth that hides that fact can’t last forever. When the fall comes, it won’t be pretty.

    I’m hoping for a resurgence of the Right and Harmonious Fists if it comes to that. I want my global economic collapse to be entertaining.

  47. Assume you’re making $50,000 a year. Does the difference between a $319 break and $1,042 get you going as a voter?

    Yes.

    Or assume you’re making $500,000 a year. Does the idea of your taxes staying flat or going up by, say, $5,000, get you moving?

    No.

    These answers are fairly obvious to non-libertarians. 700 bucks means a lot more to the average American than 5,000 bucks does to the top 1% earners.

  48. “We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people,”

    *Sighs, bangs head on desk*

  49. the “non-partisan” Tax Policy Center defines “middle” as starting out making more than 60% of taxpayers. I assume the partisanship they eschew is partisan loyalty to reality.

  50. Rhywun bringing her marginal value game FTW.

    I personally don’t get why this particular insanity rots at the base of the Libertarian psyche, where ten dollars is worth the same to Bill Gates as it is to you and HOW DARE YOU QUESTION HOW MUCH TEN DOLLARS MEANS TO BILL GATES!!!!1!!Eleventy-One!!!

    Like you say, to everyone else it’s pretty fucking obvious.

  51. El – because the line-drawing exercise when it comes to taxes is a loser’s bet, as in, everyone loses when everyone else is permitted to start questioning how much ten dollars “reasonably” means to different people in different positions.

  52. also, consider that when we start talking about what it’s “worth” to one individual or another, you’ve already given in on the premise that the money should be taken if we determine the “worth” to be less than it would be if redistributed.

  53. Rhywun bringing her marginal value game FTW.

    Rhywun is a dude, dude. That’s the second time I’ve had to explain that. Maybe you should change your handle to something more masculine, Rhywun, like Lance or Drake. “Someone” in Welsh is a little esoteric.

  54. I can’t seem to find it, but I recently saw a map of party vs. income.

    Interestingly, if you parse by income of a geographic area (not individual, but area), the wealthier the area, the more likely to vote Democratic, the less wealthy the area the more likely to vote Republican.

    Given that the Democratic party is proposing tax cuts for the lower end of the income scale with hefty increase for the very top, and that the Republican party is targeting their cuts to the very top, I find this an interesting fact.

  55. Epi,

    I made the same mistake the other day with Brandybuck…

    He noted that “buck” should have been a clue to gender, but something about naming yourself after a family of short fat flightless Tolkien fairies doesn’t exude masculinity.

  56. Never underestimate the stinginess of the wealthy. Do you think wealthy people just say yes when you tell them they have to pay $5,000 more in taxes than they did last year, all other things stying equal? No, they bitch about it, fight it, and higher another accountant to lower it as far as they can. Rich people hate paying for shit just as much as you do. Maybe not movie stars or NFL stars, but truly wealthy people do.

  57. something about naming yourself after a family of short fat flightless Tolkien fairies doesn’t exude masculinity

    True. Maybe his love of the halflings’ pipeweed has slowed his mind.

  58. Biden made much more sense when he was plagiarizing.

  59. “Someone” in Welsh

    Oh, that’s what it is? I thought it was a pun on “Wry One”.

  60. On the Intertubez, everyone is whatever gender they want to be. And some genders they don’t.

    I’ve had some experience with this here… 😉

    TAO–

    The only problem is that it is almost trivially true. Sure, we may speculate with some decent amount of warrant that at some point a line-drawing exercise would be come corruptive. But it is painfully obvious that the marginal values of the dollar are wildly disparate across income differentials.

    Perhaps if you wanted to go all empirical and shit on it, you could do some surveys of different income and net worth groups, to ask them subjective assessments of how much each dollar is worth to them.

  61. togolosh | September 18, 2008, 12:24pm | #

    the “non-partisan” Tax Policy Center defines “middle” as starting out making more than 60% of taxpayers. I assume the partisanship they eschew is partisan loyalty to reality.

    Perhaps they’re using mean instead of median. The tail is a lot longer at the top than the bottom, because the tail at the bottom is chopped off at $0.

  62. Ditto Rhywun. A thousand-dollar tax break would be a nice chunk of money for me, at around the 50k income mark. BUT I also know I wouldn’t get the benefit of a lot of Obama’s cuts/credits, because I don’t have any kids. And I am not actually helped if you cut my taxes by a few hundred dollars and then screw the economy so badly through taxation and regulation that I lose my job.

  63. I can’t seem to find it, but I recently saw a map of party vs. income.

    I’m curious to know if the number of urban rich dwarfs the abjectly urban poor in that determination.

    Also, I’d say the prevalence of young people in the cities, where there are also (on average) more wealthy people might skew that a bit.

  64. Given that the Democratic party is proposing tax cuts for the lower end of the income scale with hefty increase for the very top, and that the Republican party is targeting their cuts to the very top, I find this an interesting fact.

    It’s the God and Guns blinders. Srsly, Dems are (unfortunately) already starting to lighten up on hugging evangelicals closely and in a vaguely homoerotic fashion. If they gave up their irrational hate of guns, they would never lose, EVAR.

    So to speak.

  65. The good news is that none of this matters because everyone is going to suffer capital losses this year meaning everyone will be reporting taxable income of under 66K.

  66. Only if you made 69K or less excluding the cap loss transxns.

    😉

  67. like Lance or Drake.

    Or Bruce.

    Yeah, I’m a little tired of my current name myself. But the only other thing that springs to mind is my real name.

  68. I thought it was a pun on “Wry One”.

    No, and that mistake is another reason I want to change… I am not nearly so arrogant as that.

  69. How about “Brenin Llwyd”?

  70. “FFlewddur Fflam” also works. 🙂

  71. the line-drawing exercise when it comes to taxes is a loser’s bet

    Well, it’s not a “line”, it’s a continuum.

    you’ve already given in on the premise that the money should be taken if we determine the “worth” to be less than it would be if redistributed.

    To 99% of humanity’s way of thinking, it IS worth more. No amount of orthodox re-education is going to change that.

    the wealthier the area, the more likely to vote Democratic

    Cost of living. I live in Brooklyn. If I took my income to Buffalo I’d live in a fucking mansion.

  72. “FFlewddur Fflam” also works. 🙂

    A Lloyd Alexander reference. You just made my fucking day, dude.

  73. I could always name myself after the lovely town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

  74. ain?

    Nah, people round here would associate it with Ayn…

  75. “We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people,” *Sighs, bangs head on desk*

    Stop that unpatriotic anti-tax headbanging, you racist, or I’ll issue an Action Alert and have my supporters deluge you with harassing phone calls.

    I’m Barack Obama, and I approved this message.

  76. A bit off topic, but what would people think of a adjusting tax brackets by the taxpayer’s zip code’s cost of living.

  77. A Lloyd Alexander reference. You just made my fucking day, dude.

    Rock on. The Prydain Chronicles was one of my faves when I was very young.

  78. Adam —

    An intriguing notion.

  79. Predominant Reason mentality: “McCain is the bigger asshole so as a libertarian I have to support the lesser asshole.”

    I’m not supporting either, and I’m not going to apologize for it! It’s time we stopped electing lesser evils.

  80. A bit off topic, but what would people think of a adjusting tax brackets by the taxpayer’s zip code’s cost of living.

    You mean increase the tax rates on people stupid enough to live in large metropolitan areas that can’t function without massive public infrastructures?

    If so, then I’m down with that.

    If not, go fuck yourself 😉

  81. joe,

    Not sure that qualifies as a political gaffe. It sounds like something any southern baptist minister would do.

  82. Rhywun is a dude, dude.

    You would think Penelope wouldnt make that mistake.

  83. You mean increase the tax rates on people stupid enough to live in large metropolitan areas that can’t function without massive public infrastructures?

    Per person, I bet Iowa spends far more.

  84. Making intelligent, SHORT commentary on tax plans is almost impossible, especially because both sides are interested in twisting the truth. A simple example: suppose Mr. Rich pays $100 in taxes, Mr. Middle pays $10, and Mr. Poor pays $1. Then we cut taxes by 10% across the board – that’s fair, right? Tax cuts for everyone! But look at it this way: Mr. Rich saves $10, Mr. Middle saves $1, and Mr. Poor saves a measly $0.1. The opposition party promptly shrieks OVER 90% OF THE SO-CALLED “EVEN” TAX CUT GOES TO THE RICHEST AMERICANS!

    And that’s using an unrealistically simple toy economy. The real tax law, of course, is unspeakably crudded up with all kinds of complexities and incentives, to the point where nobody really knows exactly how much they owe (just look at Charles Rangel). So forgive me if I don’t place too much weight in two-sentence summaries of tax plans.

  85. Adam | September 18, 2008, 1:39pm | #

    A bit off topic, but what would people think of a adjusting tax brackets by the taxpayer’s zip code’s cost of living

    So in addition to subsidizing

    1. all the people too lazy to get a job

    2. All the brood mares pumping out children they can’t afford to feed

    3. Milk producers/sugar producers/ “farmers” with fallow land, etc.

    4. Corporations with deep enough pockets to afford “renting” a few congressmen

    5. Freddie, Fanny, AIG, Ford, GM, et al

    But also those people who are stupid enough to live in an area where a 5th floor walkup runs $2,200/month?

    What a wondrous notion. Where do I sign on?

  86. Per person, I bet Iowa spends far more.

    I don’t have time to look up everything 😉

    But I know that Iowa public schools spend about half as much per pupil as D.C.

    I seriously doubt that iowa public spending per person matches let alone exceeds the bluest of the blue states (which are where all the big cities are).

    Our state income taxes are substantially less than Illinois or Minnesota.

  87. That’s the same response I get every time I ask how raising taxes on those with incomes over $250k will affect the employees of S corporations.

  88. You mean increase the tax rates on people stupid enough to live in large metropolitan areas that can’t function without massive public infrastructures?

    I’ll worry about the subsidy given to metropolitan areas and their “large public infrastructures” after they tear up all the interstates leading into and out of Iowa, and refund the gas taxes collected since the Eisenhower administration.

  89. e’re joined today by the esteemed former Labor Secretary, Robert Reich. Come up, Bob, stand up. C’mon, stand up, let the people see you.

    Bob Reich, the original undershorts gnome.

  90. A mere ten billion invested in bulldozers will solve our dept problem for at least the next few generations. Bulldoze D.C. back into the swamp lands and when President Hu Jintao comes to us with a note and asking us to pay it back, we look around and say, “what dept?”

  91. I’m gonna guess there’s more federal concrete in the LA basin than in all of Iowa and Nebraska combined.

  92. iowan,

    I’m not going to defend education expenditures, since we’re talking about infrastructure. My point is that Iowa requires more infrastructure per person because it’s spread out.

    If you want to include education and services, well yes, the blue states tax and spend more for many reasons, some of which even go beyond “they’re a bunch a socialists”.

  93. I’m not going to defend education expenditures, since we’re talking about infrastructure. My point is that Iowa requires more infrastructure per person because it’s spread out.

    See preceding post

    There are two interstate I35 going north south through Des Moines and I80 going east west also through Des Moine. I80 is one of the major arteries for moving semis between the east and west coast. So a grand total of under 1,000 miles of federal concrete.

    If you want to get from point a to point b in iowa, it’s a least 90% likely its on a state or county road.

  94. iowan,

    http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/sr139.pdf

    Your state receives $1.11 in federal money for every dollar it pays in federal taxes.

    My state? With its big public transit system, and the Big Dig? We receive $0.77 for every dollar we pay.

    No need to thank us, but if you could bitch a little less about it, that would be nice.

  95. God damn, in one day I get a Prydain reference and a Doctor Who pic. I love this blog.

  96. Your state receives $1.11 in federal money for every dollar it pays in federal taxes.

    I’ve pointed that out myself. But that is a recent trend. For most of my life it has oscillated between just above and just below a buck.

    The recent trend is almost entirely due to agricultural subsidies (way to go ethanol) that are evil and should be wiped out across the board.

  97. Actually, last time I saw (a few years ago) Iowa was like the third greyest state in the union, behind florida and some other retirement mecca.

    So we draw a higher percentage of SS and Medicare that most states as well.

  98. Then she turns to him and says, “Senator Lieberman, do YOU love Jesus?”

    Not exactly political, but some years ago I watched a discussion on religion and liberty which had a panel consisting of a Catholic priest, a Quaker and a Baptist all from the Orlando area being questioned by Libertarians Mark Skousen (a Mormon) and Marshall Fritz (a Catholic).

    At one point (I think the topic of childrens rights and/or welfare had come up) Skousen turns to the priest and says, “Do you have any children, Father ______?”

  99. What’s that farkism?

    My name is Welsh, and I’m really getting a kick out of these replies…

    I dunno. It’s been a while since I visited Fark, so forgive me if I didn’t get that quite right.

    Also, wow. $1.45 for us here in KY. Guess I’ll quit mah bitchin’… or maybe I’ll just tone it down a little. I really ought to, considering my job involves grant-writing and I’ve already brought in over $1.5M in NIH funds.

    No need to yell at me, I already feel dirty about it.

  100. A bit off topic, but what would people think of a adjusting tax brackets by the taxpayer’s zip code’s cost of living.

    No, thanks. Not only would this be more complexity in the tax code (a priori A Bad Thing), it would give a tax break to wealthy neighborhoods.

  101. Hey joe, real the whole report:

    Federal Total Expenditures per capita

    Iowa $ 6,619 Rank 33
    Mass $ 8,261 Rank 13

    The feds spend more money in Mass than Iowa dude.

  102. Liars, Damn Liars, and Statisticians

  103. iowan,

    joe knows that, he is just bitching about progressive taxation. 🙂

  104. A bit off topic, but what would people think of a adjusting tax brackets by the taxpayer’s zip code’s cost of living.

    An intriguing notion.

    And a frickin implementation nightmare – 45,000 additional special interests to try to manipulate the tax code. Plus there’s a plausible argument of an equal protection violation. (as an aside, zip codes don’t technically need to match up with geogrpahic boundaries, although of course they normally do.)

  105. Didn’t Joe mean we may get more federal money, but we also pay alot more of it? I don’t see how Iowan’s response effects that.

    (I don’t know what I am talking about on this subject, however, so that is a real question, not snarkyness)

  106. Your state receives $1.11 in federal money for every dollar it pays in federal taxes.

    We Republicans pay about $10 for every $1 we receive in federal money, because income is a strong predictor of voting behavior and those making less than $50K pay almost no tax.

    http://people-press.org/commentary/?analysisid=95

    http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/250.html

    We don’t mind paying for you, but it would be nice if you could stop bitching about us.

  107. Also, there’s sorta kinda a ‘tax break’ that correlates with cost of living with the deductability of state income taxes (although the recent change that both income and sales taxes are deductable alters this dynamic somewhat)

  108. I was just trying to see if I could get joe to spit all over his keyboard and then say bad things about my mother or sister 😉

  109. Didn’t Joe mean we may get more federal money, but we also pay alot more of it?

    Yes, that is what he was trying to say.

    I don’t see how Iowan’s response effects that.

    It doesn’t, I was just poking joe in the ribs.

    But the original discussion was about spending on public infrastructure which does not account for total government spending.

    The report that joe gave says Iowa gets more in SS/Medicare spending that Mass does per capita, which correlates to the fact that we have a very high percentage of old people in the state.

    We also get alot of agricultural subsidies.

    Neither one of those goes toward building public infrastructure.

  110. I follow that, I just misinterpreted it. Thank you kindly.

    Also, effect, affect, oops.

  111. your welcome

    Also note that $1.10 in federal dollars going to Iowa doesn’t differentiate between dollars collected as FICA/Medicare, Income Tax, Gasoline Tax, Telephone Taxes, etc.

  112. We should tax the poor more. They don’t do enough for America. The bottom half of the country doesn’t even add up to the taxes paid by Exxon Mobil. Those lazy SOBs need to step up and pay their fair share.

  113. We Republicans pay about $10 for every $1 we receive in federal money, because income is a strong predictor of voting behavior and those making less than $50K pay almost no tax.

    Wait, I thought Democrats were richer. I’m confused.

  114. The pink elephant is the fact that income taxes aren’t my biggest problem.

    Federal mandates for everything from medicare to homeland security are causing local/state revenue collections to increase drastically.

    Court fees, user fees, real estate taxes, excise taxes, surcharges, fuel taxes, personal property taxes, tolls, special assessments, christ, even the schools are begging for paper and pencils…these are the silent throttle around the throat of a median income family like mine.

    Hell, I barely pay any federal income taxes at all.

    This fetish with the federal income tax plans of the two lying bastards is bullshit.

    Bottom line: the feds are still taking our money and at a record clip, just that thirty years back or so they realized they could shift the collection job to the localities, while still telling the locals what to do with the cash, and continue the march towards to behemoth status without the appropriate blame.

  115. Republican,

    The sum total of all the data in both of your links that supports your thesis is zero (0).

    Nice try, d00d.

  116. “Bottom line: the feds are still taking our money and at a record clip, just that thirty years back or so they realized they could shift the collection job to the localities, while still telling the locals what to do with the cash, and continue the march towards to behemoth status without the appropriate blame.”

    Cecil — THANK YOU! You’re exactly right. Will you marry me? I live in a small city with crazy bloated gov’t in Indiana. My husband and I both work full time, the only debt we have is a mortgage on a 920 sq ft house, and we are eating stupid fees and taxes for breakfast!

    Quite frankly, I prefer oatmeal.

  117. Republicans are the price we pay for this country doing the right thing!

    Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall get in line ahead of the war monger Republicans.

  118. Last night I’m watching a McCain ad about Obama wanting BIG Goverment. So what do I see this morning – “Sen. John McCain said Friday morning he would establish a new agency to deal with the U.S. financial crisis …”
    Now really – the stock market is still fuxuating, the money hasnt even got cold yet. Boom – out of the chutes McCain waints to spend millions (at least) on a new “committee” that we really dont need. If this is the trend he’s going toward – than how big will he make the govt?

  119. How our tax system works ?

    Suppose that every day, the same ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

    The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
    The fifth would pay $1.
    The sixth would pay $3.
    The seventh would pay $7.
    The eighth would pay $12.
    The ninth would pay $18.

    The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
    So, that’s what they decided to do.

    The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. ‘Since you are all such good customers,’ he said, ‘I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.’ Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

    The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’ They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

    And so:

    The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
    The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
    The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
    The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
    The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
    The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% saving s).

    Each of the s ix was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

    ‘I only got a dollar out of the $20,’ declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, ‘but he got $10?.

    ‘Yeah, that’s right, exclaimed the fifth man. ‘I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I got’

    ‘That’s true’ shouted the seventh man. ‘Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!’

    ‘Wait a minute,’ yelled the first four men in unison. ‘We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!’

    The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

    The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important – they didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

  120. Republican,The sum total of all the data in both of your links that supports your thesis is zero (0). Nice try, d00d.

    You fail math and reading.

    But, of course, that’s why I pay your taxes!

    And I never really expected you to be grateful or stop bitching 🙂

  121. With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

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