Do-It-Yourself Fact-Checking

Do-It-Yourself Fact-Checking

By Randall Hoven

Taxes are back in the news.  Barack Obama promises to raise them, but only on people making more than $250,000, or maybe $200,000, or maybe $150,000.  But really, he’s going to cut them for 95% of us.  Trust him.  He’s not going to cut them for the super-rich, and only the super-rich, like George W. Bush did.

This is a tired subject, but that doesn’t stop Democrats from beating the same dead horse.  The good news is that we no longer have to depend on “experts” to get at the truth of things.  If you are reading this online, you have access to the internet.  Yes, you too can be a Fact Checker.  Here’s what you do:

 

  • (1) Go to the US Statistical Abstract at http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/.
  • (2) Select “Federal Gov’t Finances & Employment”.
  • (3) Select “Federal Individual Income Tax Returns”.
  • (4) Click on Table 474, “Individual Income Tax Returns.” You have a choice of Excel or PDF format.

 

It’s also possible to go right to the data in one fell swoop.  Go to http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/tables/08s0474.xls or http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/tables/08s0474.pdf.

 

If you look at the data in just that one IRS table, you can debunk virtually every myth that Democrats have been propagating about taxes for at least the last eight years.  (For reference, AGI is adjusted gross income; it is how much you make before deductions.)

 

Myth 1:  Rich people don’t pay taxes.

 

Fact:  Yes they do.  And be glad they do.  Those making over $200,000 in 2004, though being only 2.3% of all tax filers, paid 47% of all individual income taxes.

 

Myth 2:  But that’s only because the rich make so much more money.

 

Fact:  That same group of tax filers accounted for only 26% of individual income (AGI).  Repeat: they made 26% of the money but paid 47% of the taxes.

 

Myth 3:  But the rich don’t pay as high a percentage as the rest of us.

 

Fact:  Look at the column labeled “Income Tax as a Percent of AGI” and simply look at the numbers.  The higher the income, the higher percent paid in taxes.  In fact, the disparity is significant.  Those making over $200,000 paid an average of at least 21% in income taxes on average, while those making $30,000 or less (over half of all filers) paid 5% or less.  Repeat: the “rich” paid tax rates that were at least four times greater (300% more) than the median tax filer.

 

The only exception to this trend is in the very upper reaches of income.  Those making between half a million and one million dollars in 2004 paid 24% in taxes, while those making over $1 million paid 23%.  I’ll let that one half of one percent of all tax filers fight over that 1% difference among themselves.  (If you are David Cay Johnston, you can get a book deal out of this dramatic 1% disparity.)

 

Myth 4:  Bush’s tax cuts only benefitted the super-rich.

 

Fact:  Go to that same column labeled “Income Tax as Percent of AGI.”    That column shows average tax rates in 2000 (before Bush’s tax cuts) and 2004 (after the cuts).  Note that the tax went down for every single income group.  In fact, the lower the income, the greater the average percentage cut in taxes owed.

 

The lower half of all tax filers (among those even having to file) paid at least 50% less in 2004 than in 2000 for the same income level.  That’s a 50% tax cut at least.  Those making $200,000 or more paid had their taxes cut just 16%, at most.

 

If anyone should be complaining about those tax cuts, it should be those making between $200,000 and $500,000.  Their cut was only 13%, but those making over $1 million got a 16% cut.  (Paging David Cay Johnston, hero to the half-millionaires.)  But let’s be clear: every income group below $200,000 received an average cut of at least 21%.

 

Myth 5:  We should cut taxes for 95% of the people.

 

Fact:  What we “should” do is subjective, but what we “can” do is not.  If 95% of people do not even pay income taxes, how can you cut their income tax?  Not every one even has to file a tax return.  Of those that did, the lowest 18% paid zero income taxes.  Zero.  By the time you chop off the “rich” (those making over $200,000 in 2004), you have less than 80% to play with.

 

Of course, if you make up negative numbers for tax cuts, you can do anything.  If you call giving money to someone a “tax cut” (as opposed to letting him keep more of what he earned) then you can indeed “cut taxes” for those who don’t pay them.  I think you have to go to Harvard Law to understand that logic.

 

By the way, when George W. Bush cut taxes, he cut them for 100% of the people who paid them.  (Check the IRS table.)

 

Myth 6:  The really rich know how to get out of paying taxes; they don’t show up in these tables.

 

Fact:  This is the Dark Matter theory of rich people — they exist, but no one can detect them, not even the IRS.  Even if true, those who made over $100,000 (that they couldn’t hide) paid 68% of all income taxes while comprising less than 10% of all tax filers.  And if true, then we’re even richer than we think we are: the rich are hiding out among the poorer tax filers or non-filers.  People we now think are poor, are really rich?  That would be good news, wouldn’t it?

 

Myth 7:  But cutting taxes reduces revenues and therefore increases deficits and our debt load.

 

Fact:  Here we’ll need a different table from the US Statistical Abstract.  Go to Table 455, Federal Budget – Receipts.  In 2006, after Bush’s tax cuts were in full effect, the federal government took in 18.4% of Gross Domestic Product.  Now look at averages prior to 2000.  If you start taking the average in 1950, 60, 70 or 80, it doesn’t matter; the average is less than 18.4% of GDP, just where it stood in 1989 after Reagan’s tax cuts.  When President Clinton cut capital gains taxes in 1997, federal revenue went up.

 

As the top marginal rate on individual income varied between 28% and 92% over the last 60 years, the amount of federal revenue has consistently hovered around 18% of GDP that whole time.  In fact, revenues were generally less when the top rate was peaking at 91% and 92% (1951-1963).

 

Why would anyone think raising the top marginal rate would raise revenue?  Nothing in the last 60 years indicates any such thing would happen.  However, raising top marginal rates has been the Democratic Party’s policy for the last 40 years.  That’s something they don’t want to change, apparently.

 

Myth 8:  The “rich” are somebody else.

 

Fact:  Not if the person saying that is a Congressperson.  A rank-and-file Congressperson makes $169,300 per year in 2008 in salary alone.  Nancy Pelosi, as Speaker, makes $217,400.  Even if they and their spouses make no other income, they are still in the top 5% and are all above Joe Biden’s threshold of $150,000.  In fact, of 435 Congressmen, 123 of them made $1 million or more in 2003 (that is income, not net worth). 

 

Myth 9:  The Communist Manifesto’s second plank is, “A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.”

 

Fact:  That’s not a myth.

 

Randall Hoven can be contacted at randall.hoven@gmail.com or  via his web site, kulak.worldbreak.com.
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Obama’s Plumbers

Obama’s Plumbers

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, October 29, 2008 4:30 PM PT

Election ’08: Ohio Democrats refused to act on ACORN’s massive vote fraud. Yet they have time to scour the private records of Joe the Plumber. No wonder Barack Obama finds the Constitution an inconvenience.


Read More: Election 2008


 

Joe Wurzelbacher (also known as Joe the Plumber) has learned there’s a price to pay for being the one to get Obama to admit that he has a socialist dream to “spread the wealth.” Not only are you thrust into the public eye, you get the privilege of having government officials who support Obama rifle through private files looking for dirt on you.

Helen Jones-Kelley, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and a maxed-out contributor to the Obama campaign, has confirmed that she approved the check on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher after the Oct. 15 presidential debate.

Jones-Kelley explained her governmental prying by saying, “Our practice is when someone is thrust quickly into the public spotlight, we often take a look” at them. For example, she cited the case of a lottery winner who was found to owe back child support. But Wurzelbacher didn’t win the lottery; he merely asked how much more of his hard-earned money was going to be taxed away under the Obama plan.

According to the Columbus-Dispatch, at least four state computer checks on Wurzelbacher were conducted shortly after Republican John McCain frequently brought up “Joe the Plumber” during the final presidential debate. In addition to the Department of Job and Family Services, driver’s license and vehicle registration information on “Joe” was pulled from Bureau of Motor Vehicles computers. BMV information on Wurzelbacher also was obtained through accounts assigned to the Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency and the Toledo Police Department.

In a 2001 radio interview in which Obama again expressed belief in the “redistribution of wealth,” the Illinois senator regretted that the Supreme Court “didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution.” Will Obama, through his appointments to the court, remove those constraints? Is “Joe” only the first on an Obama’s enemies list?

Contrast this investigative frenzy with the refusal of Ohio’s Democratic Secretary of State, Jennifer Bruner, to use government records to check the thousands of new voters registered by ACORN and others for registration fraud. She also refused notify local election officials when fraud was discovered.

This isn’t the first time team Obama has sought to stifle dissent, threatening to use the powers of government to intimidate and punish its opponents. A recent report on KMOV-TV in St. Louis said:

“The Barack Obama campaign is asking Missouri law enforcement to target anyone who lies or runs a misleading TV ad during the presidential campaign.”

The Obama campaign will target anyone who says this emperor has no clothes. It wasn’t long ago that a team of 30 lawyers, investigators and Democratic party operatives trekked up to Alaska to find dirt on Sarah Palin. Now they’re after Joe the Plumber.

Should Obama, Sen. Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gain unfettered control of the powers of government and the Supreme Court and reinstate the so-called Fairness Doctrine, they might come after you.

 

Military Vote Poll pdf

Obama vs. Palin: Apples to Oranges

Obama Family Values

Obama Family Values

Clarice Feldman
It seems that Obama has more relatives in need than his shanty-living  half-brother in Kenya. From the UK Times:

Barack Obama has lived one version of the American Dream that has taken him to the steps of the White House. But a few miles from where the Democratic presidential candidate studied at Harvard, his Kenyan aunt and uncle, immigrants living in modest circumstances in Boston, have a contrasting American story.
Zeituni Onyango, the aunt so affectionately described in Mr Obama’s best-selling memoir Dreams from My Father, lives in a disabled-access flat on a rundown public housing estate in South Boston.
A second relative believed to be the long-lost “Uncle Omar” described in the book was beaten by armed robbers with a “sawed-off rifle” while working in a corner shop in the Dorchester area of the city. He was later evicted from his one-bedroom flat for failing to pay $2,324.20 (£1,488) arrears, according to the Boston Housing Court.

Gaffetastic: Obama mixes up his black sitcom references; video added

Obama’s ‘Redistributive Change’ and the Death of Freedom

Obama’s ‘Redistributive Change’ and the Death of Freedom
Beware the International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights.

By Andrew C. McCarthy

There should no longer be any dispute that Barack Obama’s aim is to socialize the American economy — as he vaporously puts it, to bring about “redistributive change.” The real question is how he’ll go about it. Very likely, the answer lies in a potentially cataclysmic treaty that has gotten virtually no attention during the campaign: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

To rewind, Obama expressly endorsed “redistributive change” in a 2001 Chicago Public Radio interview. Lamenting that the Warren Court (the tribunal that spawned a revolution in criminals’ rights) “wasn’t that radical” after all, Obama sought to prove his point by citing the justices’ failure to take on “the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society.

It was an early iteration of the socialist philosophy Obama recently made famous in an exchange with Joe Wurzelbacher, aka “Joe the Plumber.” Of course on the latter occasion, when Obama spoke of planning to “spread the wealth around,” it was a slip. The candidate is far more guarded now than he was in 2001, just as he was more coy in 2001 than in his mid-Nineties incarnation — when he first sought to represent an extremely left-wing district and embraced his endorsement by the radical Chicago New Party (ACORN’s electoral arm with ties to the Socialist International).

By 2001, as he eyed national office, Obama put on mainstream airs. He couched his radicalism in soothing euphemisms. “Economic justice,” however, is simply the finance angle of “social justice,” the idée fixe of Obama and his coven of Change-agents — like Michael Klonsky, the communist educator who ran a “social justice” blog on Obama’s official campaign website. Such radicals give the Warren Court high marks on non-economic rights, but flunk the justices on redistribution: the purported right of society’s ne’er-do-wells to pick the pockets of its achievers through the coercive power of government.

OBAMA’S ANTI-CONSTITUTION
As Obama sees it, the Warren Court failed to “break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution.” The judges instead clung to the hoary construction of the Constitution as “a charter of negative liberties” — one that says only what government “can’t do to you.” For Obama, economic justice demands the positive case: what government “must do on your behalf” (emphasis added).

True to form, Obama has twisted the most elementary points. First, the Framers viewed government as a necessary evil: required for a free people’s collective security but, if insufficiently checked, guaranteed to devour liberty. The purpose of the Constitution was not to make the positive case for government but for freedom. Freedom cannot exist without order, and thus implies some measure of government. But it is a limited government, vested with only the powers expressly enumerated. As the framers knew, a government that strays beyond those powers is necessarily treading on freedom’s territory. It is certain to erode the very “Blessings of Liberty” the Constitution was designed to secure.

Relatedly, the Constitution does state the positive case for government in its opening lines. Government is required to safeguard the rule of law and the national security. These injunctions are vital: there is no liberty without them. Why, then, do Obama and other Leftists ignore them? Because they don’t involve picking winners and losers; they eschew social engineering. These guarantees, instead, are for everyone, uniformly: Government must “provide for the common defense” and “promote the general welfare” (emphasis added). The Blessings of Liberty are to be secured “to ourselves and to our posterity”—not to yourself at the expense of my posterity.

The question isn’t what government “must do on your behalf.” It is what government must do on our behalf. In general, the positive power of government is for the body politic, not the individual. Of course individuals have rights. But those rights comprise a sphere of personal liberty against government. In that sphere, each individual Joe the Plumber is free to work hard, or not; to make of his life what he will, bearing personally the consequences of his choices. Freedom, after all, includes the freedom to fail. Pace Obama, failure is a part of life — there is no right against it.

The framers understood that there is no societal good in a government that “must do” for individuals and factions. “Doing” is a zero-sum game. Government does not inherently have anything to give. What it awards you it must seize from me. What it gives one faction it must deny to others. Such an arrangement is inimical to the Constitution’s purpose “to form a more perfect union.” It is, in fact, a prescription for disunion, for a house divided.

Freedom accepts that we are different. The endless variety of life assures that. I had every opportunity to become just as good a basketball player as Michael Jordan, but he has natural gifts and worked harder. If we played a hundred times, he would whip me a hundred times by about 500 points. No Change, no matter how rapturously framed, could alter that result without chaining him to the bench and rendering the game no longer recognizable as basketball. That would be perversion, not justice.

Yet, this is just what Obama’s “economic justice” envisions: that the government can hamstring Michael Jordan and give me enough freebies that, despite his talent and industry, he can only play me to a tie, destroying his incentive to excel while the Bulls go out of business, no longer able to afford even my mediocrity. Naturally, such an absurd system requires change. Redistribution smothers the freedom our Constitution is designed to foster. It is therefore antithetical to our law.

Obama knows this. Consequently, as he said in 2001, he is not surprised that courts saddled with such a Constitution have not been a useful route to economic justice. What is surprising, at least at first blush, is that Obama doesn’t fret too much about that. As a matter of fact, in his estimation, the civil rights movement was too “court focused.”

This is because Obama is a true revolutionary. It’s not that he doesn’t want socialist economic policies; he does. And it’s not that he doesn’t think the courts should impose “economic justice” just as the Warren Court imposed “social justice”; again, he does. It’s that he believes the Warren era reliance on the judiciary as principal change agent led to the atrophy of more forceful and promising methods: namely, “the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change.”

Political and community organizing activities on the ground? Think of ACORN, Obama’s old comrades at the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now: engaged in massive (often fraudulent) voter-registration efforts to over-represent society’s bottom-dwellers; handing Leftist politicians a ready-to-enact legislative agenda of confiscatory taxes, laws forcing banks to make home-loans to unqualified borrowers, “living wage” laws that kill jobs, corporate “exit visas” to trap businesses in urban areas enervated by government’s central planning, “sustainable development” regulations to redistribute wealth from the suburbs to the cities, global poverty relief to redistribute wealth from American citizens to the third-world dictators, and Leftist political indoctrination in the public schools.

REDISTRIBUTIVE CHANGE: THE DEATH OF FREEDOM

Obama, the Leftist community organizer schooled in the radical methods of Saul Alinsky, recognizes that in the current legal landscape legislation will be necessary to impose the injustice he calls “economic justice.” Lawmakers needn’t do all the work. Politically unaccountable judges, many favorably predisposed toward Leftist schemes, can be a force multiplier. First, however, they must be given just enough legislative license.

As luck would have it, a President Obama may be well positioned to give that license at the very start of his term, without the political risk inherent in proposing his own detailed “economic justice” program. The solution is ready to hand: all it needs is an election-day tide that swells the Democrats’ Senate majority.

In 1966, with key help from the Soviet Union, the United Nations began promoting a monstrosity of a treaty known as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). It is chockablock with exactly the things Obama would say government must do on your behalf: provide housing, clothing, education, health care, employment, a living wage that accounts for comparative worth (meaning the government, under the guise of preventing discrimination, determines what you are paid), limited labor hours, paid vacation and holidays, paid parental leave, nearly unrestricted trade unionization, social security (including “social insurance”), “equitable distribution of world food supplies in relation to need,” and so on.

This economic-justice compact was so patently socialist that, even at the height of his Great Society and War on Poverty, President Lyndon Johnson declined to sign it. So did Presidents Nixon and Ford. But alas, there is always Jimmy Carter. Thirty years ago, he signed the ICESCR, but it has languished ever since, never ratified. President Clinton lauded the treaty but shrank from prodding the senate, where staunch Republican opposition made the required two-thirds approval margin a pipedream.

Obama, by contrast, expects to have the wind at his back, at least for a time. Gone is the Republican Congress of the Clinton years. Despite their appalling performance and historically low approval ratings, cocky Democrats expect to pad their congressional majorities. They anticipate inching close to 60 seats, or beyond. With an assist from the usual GOP moderates — who’d no doubt be anxious to join a charismatic new president in a bipartisan effort to “improve America’s image in the world” — the 67 votes needed for ratification could be attainable.

The Constitution stipulates that, once ratified, a treaty becomes the supreme law of the land. No longer would Obama need to worry about the “essential constraints” that relegate our fundamental law to “a charter of negative liberties.” Federal judges would now be unleashed to direct the redistributions necessary to ensure a “living wage” and the ICESCR’s remaining laundry list of economic rights. Congressional Democrats, egged on by ACORN and its hard Left allies, would craft legislation to further codify, explain and expand on them.

Change will have arrived. At long last we’ll have realized Obama’s ideal of economic justice. But freedom, the ideal that makes America America, will have perished.

National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy chairs the FDD’s Center for Law & Counterterrorism and is the author of Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad (Encounter Books 2008).


National Review Online – http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZWY3ZDkyNWJiMThmNjNlN2RjOTczYTc1MWI5ZmEzOWU