Tax breaks for the rich: more of the same

Things never change when it comes to taxes and the rich.

wapo_tax_breaks_0The top 20 percent get more breaks than the remaining 80 percent. A lot more. This chart doesn’t break down the figures for the top 1 percent, but based on past charts, we know the scale will be off the charts.

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Dirty Harry Reid

So Harry Reid pulls something out of thin air (Mitt Romney hasn’t paid taxes in 10 years), admits he’s probably making it up, and the people who gave us ,,,

1) Obama’s a Muslim
2) Obama’s a socialist
3) Obama’s birth certificate isn’t real
4) Obama pals around with terrorists
5) Obama’s plotting to take away your guns
6) Obama’s college transcript is phony
7) Obama is organizing concentration camps
8) Obama was born in Kenya

… those people have the nerve to get upset that someone is making something up about their candidate? And the best part is that Mitt Romney, who isn’t releasing his tax returns, is saying that Harry Reid has to prove his allegations by getting Mitt Romney’s tax returns and releasing them?

In the words of Dirty Harry, “Go ahead. Make my day.”

The biggest tax increase in the history of the GOP alternate universe

When your Republican friends hit you with the statement, “Obamacare is the largest tax increase in the history of the world,” hit them back with this (from Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog):

… no, the Affordable Care Act isn’t the “biggest tax hike in history.” It’s not even the biggest tax hike in the past 60 years. Or 50 years. Or 30 years. Or 20 years.

And then hit them with this chart:

The biggest tax increase in American history happened in 1951 (for reading purposes, these top 15 are read from the bottom — being the biggest — to the top).

But the GOP had its talking points handed down by Fox News, and for the past couple of days, the line has been biggest tax increase in U.S. history, biggest tax increase in world history, biggest tax increase in the history of the Universe.

As it normally goes with their strategy, if you repeat a lie enough times, someone is going to believe it’s true. And those true believers in the Fox News universe have proven to be wrong more than other news viewers when it comes to current events.

Almost forgot: Obamacare is Romneycare. So in Fox News logic, Mitt Romney is responsible for the biggest tax increase in the history of the universe. And the alternate universe.

(An aside: Actually, the biggest tax increase in the history of the universe was the Galactic Empire‘s “revenue enhancement” for the building of the two Death Stars, leading to the destruction of Alderaan a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. But you knew that already.)

The next GOP scandal?

The Iowa caucuses are Tuesday, and it looks like Mitt Romney (already) is going to come out ahead, since every other GOP candidate has ridden the crazy train over the cliff. (I’m sure there’s someone out there saying, “But Rick Santorum is surging.” Forget it. It’s pretty much common knowledge that the frothy Sen. Man-on-Dog was in the first car of the loco-motive.)

When Romney comes out ahead, the nomination should subsequently fall into place. So, here’s something to watch out for. And it’s a significant issue.

Why won’t Romney release his tax returns?

It’s become a pretty standard part of the election process. But Romney is resisting. TPM has a theory as to why:

As Romney likes to say, he’s unemployed. He doesn’t draw a salary. But he seems to still be making big big money off capital gains which are currently taxed at a very low rate. He doesn’t seem to have drawn a salary at any time recently. So he likely pays no payroll taxes. And that’s before you get into legal but aggressive tax-sheltering. It seems virtually impossible that Mitt Romney doesn’t pay the sort of effective tax rate that would make people’s eyes pop when compared to middle income and even relatively wealthy (by normal standards) people who pay considerably higher rates.

That might cause a little problem in any election year. But issues of income inequality and particularly tax policy are right at the top of the political agenda in 2012. And that dictates keeping those tax returns under wraps as long as possible.

Let’s see how this pans out.

Herman Cain’s 999 plan (a chart)

Here are some simple charts that show how GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain‘s 999 tax plan affects different income groups (from economist Jared Bernstein‘s “On the Economy” blog):

This is a chart that breaks it down by quintiles:

So, while the tax burden of the top 20% drops, everyone else’s taxes rise significantly. But for those of us who are part of the 99%, let’s take a look at how the tax burden changes for the top 1% and for good measure for the top 0.1%.

Wow, the top 1% would pay almost $240,000 less per year, while the top 0.1% would pay $1.36 million less annually.

But the difference in the blue bars in the two charts doesn’t look that big. I wonder what they would look like in the same chart?

Um, I think I see why the singing pizza guy isn’t saying anything good about the 99% taking part in Occupy Wall Street. Good to know he’s watching out for the interests of the Koch brothers.

What’s it like to be rich?

Karen Hube of the Fiscal Times has a column in the Washington Post today asking: … just how flush is a family of four with a $250,000 income? Are they really “rich”?

Examining the expenses of such a family based on the cost of living of eight different American communities, she concludes:

Bottom line: For folks like the Joneses who live in high-tax, high-cost areas, who save for retirement and college, pay for child care to enable two incomes and spend higher prices for housing in top school districts — $250,000 goes quicker than you think.

OK. Let’s say that’s true. Let’s say folks with that kind of salary are living in a high-cost areas because those are where the high-paying jobs are. And let’s say they’re putting away money for retirement, child care and their kids’ education.

Here’s my bottom line: $250,000 is six times the national average household income. Families at this income level are raking in more than six other families’ combined earnings, and they’re constantly criticizing the lesser paid for not living within their means. If the affluent family can’t get by, it needs to either take its own advice about doing more with less or shut up.

Bush tax cuts are going to be extended, but the affluent (the really rich to answer the question in the first paragraph), don’t need them.