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June 07, 2005

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (The Janissaries in the Bush Class War Revolt! Edition)

The New York Times editorial page is angry. At long last they have figured out that they and theirs--people with household incomes between $100K and $200K--have been played for suckers by the Bushies. I have only one question: what took them so long?

They are really angry:

The Bush Economy - New York Times: In last Sunday's Times, David Cay Johnston reported that from 1980 to 2002, the latest year of available data, the share of total income earned by the top 0.1 percent of earners more than doubled.... [T]he unheralded effect of [Bush's] tax policy is its unequal impact on the modestly well to do. By 2015, those making between $80,000 and $400,000 will pay as much as 13.9 percentage points more of their income in federal taxes than those making more than $400,000.... The divide between rich and poor is unfortunately an old story, but income-class warfare among the top 20 percent of the scale is a newer phenomenon.... [M]any families making between $100,000 and $200,000 are not exactly on easy street. They don't face choices anywhere near as stark as those encountered further down the income ladder, but they face serious tradeoffs not experienced by the uppermost crust, particularly when hit with the triple whammy of college for the children, care for aging parents, and preparing for their own retirement.

There is something deeply wrong about a system that calls into question a comfortable retirement or a top-notch education for people who have broken into the top 20 percent of income earners. It starts to seem politically explosive when you consider that in a decade, those making between $100,000 and $200,000 will pay about five to nine percentage points more of their income in federal taxes than those making more than $1 million, assuming the Bush tax cuts are made permanent.

This is not about giving wealthy people more money to invest back into the economy. At this level, it's really about giving more money to those who have nothing to do with it except amass enormous estates for their heirs. Fixing the problem will require members of Congress to summon the courage to say no to a president who wants more for the richest of the rich at the expense of everyone else. We're not holding our breath.

Hey! New York Times! Average--not median, average--gross weekly earnings of nonsupervisory workers are $540--that's $27,000 a year. Average--not median, average--gross weekly earnings of nonsupervisory workers in retail trade are $380 a week--that's $19,000 a year. Many of them face the same problems of trying to get their children the education and skills they need to have opportunities, of caring for aging parents, and of preparing for their own retirement as do those making $200K a year who are "not exactly on easy street."

That "the divide between rich and poor is unfortunately an old story" does not mean that the focus of our attention should be on how to redistribute income and wealth from the top 0.1% to the top 20%.

Posted by DeLong at June 7, 2005 10:07 PM