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Saturday, April 17, 2010

President Obama Lowered Your Taxes: Get Over It

Ah. Another tax day gone. Another round of cathartic and mostly baseless rage, as Americans enjoy one of the lowest federal tax burdens in modern history.

Really. Ms. Maddow, would you explain?

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Maddow's sources:
  1. Your taxes may go up later, but under President Obama, your federal taxes have gone down $173 billion (while state taxes are up $28.6 billion).
  2. Middle-income families' federal tax burden is at a historic low, now below 5% of total income, after three decades of decline. Three decades—not exactly the basis for mounting rage. Can anyone say anti-Obama astroturf?
  3. President Obama's stimulus package gave 95% of us tax cuts. Funny: Uncle Sam left mroe money in people's pockets, and they still didn't want to shell out $15 to hear Allen Unruh gibber and yee at the Sioux Falls Tea Party.
  4. You probably got a bigger refund this year. Indeed, you should thank President Obama.
  5. Maddow brings in Ezra Klein to talk about the contradictory Tea Bag argument that 47% of Americans aren't paying federal income tax and that that's bad. The Tea Bags, supposed champions of the little guy, want to stir up images of little guys freeloading on the hard work of real Americans. Klein notes the well-off folks backing the Tea Party rallies pay more income tax, but regular working folks pay plenty in payroll taxes and state and local taxes (like South Dakota's tax on eating).
  6. Klein also presents a great graph from the Citizens for Tax Justice that shows the percentage of the total tax burden shouldered by different income groups aligns pretty closely with each groups total share of national income.
  7. And if you do still get cranky about 47% of Americans not paying federal income tax, how do you feel about 57% of American corporations and 72% of foreign outfits not paying income tax?
More tea, anyone?

Update 11:36 CDT: On the 47%, see also NYT's David Leonhardt, who notes rich folks like wealthy celebrity talk show hosts have enjoyed larger tax rate declines over the last 30 years than the working class.


  1. Here is a tax increase;


    Tim Higgins

  2. So Cory, if someone who has no money, promises to give me money that they don't have...money they must borrow from someone (China) in order to make me feel good and perhaps vote for them and support their party in the future, knowing I'll have to pay back the money, and not only the money they gave me, but also money they gave others who won't have the capacity to pay back their fair share, plus a pant-load of interest that will burden me, my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren...Should I be thankful, or should I be angry that our deficit is exploding like no time in history...That within three years we'll have interest rates and inflation that exceeds the early 1980's. Washington is spending money like drunken Democrats! They're drunk with their own power. I'd rather pay now, pay as I go, than have Obama pretend he lowered my taxes and sock it to me later. It's not what you say, it's how you say it, and Obama tells a compelling story.

  3. My taxes have gone down under Obama -- so far. But the writing on the wall says "Danger! Bad times ahead."

    I feel like someone who has just had a prime rib dinner, knowing that it might very well constitute the last decent meal I ever have.

    The undercurrent of the tea-baggers' message is simple: "Dear Democrats: We don't trust you." As for what they think of Republicans, I cannot guess.

    Meanwhile, I will take this opportunity to say, "Thank you, Mr. President, for the tax rebate I received in 2009." The check cleared the bank, and to this day the funds remain there.

  4. GoldPerson:

    I have been having the most wonderful discussions with the owners of a Flandreau nursing home owned and operated by some of the finest Republican women on the planet today. Unfortunate who their brother is, but, there's that.

    Neither has consented to say anything for my blog, though. Dang it.

    The "Keep your hands off my Medicare" sticker emblazoned on the front door elicits a smirk every time my hand reaches for the door handle.

    Wonder what the contingent from the Citizens for Libertyness have to say about those metrics.

  5. Rod,

    If you have a crystal ball, please share it with the rest of us. I've expected interested rates to go up for years and been wrong. We just don't know, neither does my favorite banker.

    Yes, we need to reduce the debt, but first things first. People have to get back to work.

    Cut Obama a little slack considering what he walked in to. He's getting things done and bringing faith back to government.

  6. Goldman . It was the party from the right that got us into this mess in the first place. When Clinton left office there was a budget surplus, with projections of the debt being payed off by 2010. How did that work out for us? It was the party of the right that was in control during 8 of those 10 years. You have every right to be angry at the republicans. Asking for taxes now is asking for economic disaster. There will have to be higher taxes and spending cuts once the economy is back on track , but it can be brought under control , and my money is on the democrats , they have done it before many times in history, I certainly won't put my money on the party that got us here to begin with, especially since I haven't heard any plan from them to get us out. Obama bashing and sloganeering just dont cut it for me.

  7. Speaking of signs, My wife did not think the hospital where she worked would be amused if I added the sign, "Note to Lawyers: This is not the ambulance entrance."

  8. "How do you feel about 57% of American corporations and 72% of foreign outfits not paying income tax?"

    Your post is misleading, Cory. When you say many corporations don't pay income tax, I hope you consider the millions of W-2 wage earners they employ, whose social security and medicare taxes they subsidize.

    If a corporation carries retained earnings, they may be able to temporarily avoid taxation on those corporate earnings, but every employee they have is subject to W-2 taxation, and that is the steady flow of income the government relies on for its operation.

    To say corporations don't pay taxes is simply not true. Corporations and small business owners pay in most the taxes our government receives.

    Another example of "it's not what you say, it's how you say it" that has become so prevalent among the current administration.

  9. Goldman, true, but only to the degree that they hire American workers.

  10. http://republicans.waysandmeans.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=180917

    "Washington, DC – Ways and Means Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI) today released a list of tax increases totaling $670.341 billion that have been enacted into law under President Obama. The gross tax increases equate to more than $2,100 for every man, woman and child in the United States and include at least 14 violations of the President’s pledge not to raise taxes on Americans earning less than $200,000 (singles) and $250,000 (married couples)."

    This article lists the tax increases to come so far in Obama's agenda already passed. What has not been passed but he wants includes cap and trade, increased gas tax, and VAT tax to name a few. And state taxes have gone up and will go up because of increased mandated Medicaid expenses. The little bit that Obama gave back to people this last year (his 95% would get tax cuts) doesn't even begin to equal and amount he intends to and already has increased taxes with his agenda.

    How in the world do you think our US economy will be able to pay for this massive degree of fiscal irresponsibility? Growth of the economy? I don't think so when all small businesses are hunkered down because of impending rules and regulations and taxes. Why would a business expand with the swords of Damocles hanging over their head?

    There is a limited supply of money available for the gov't to get their hands on because unfortunately it isn't legal for us citizens to print our own money (the US gov't, of course, can and it's legal!).

    Margaret Thatcher said it best: Socialism works until you run out of other people's money.

    So I would advise you, Cory, to get over it. Taxes are going to go up astronomically, and it is going to hurt your daughter and my grandsons more than it hurts me. I would think that should greatly concern you.

    Linda McIntyre

  11. Linda's post is hilarious. Suffice it to say that she answers her own question, thus hoisting herself on her own petard. The majority of the "tax increases" she highlights specifically address paying for the additional costs she bemoans. You can't have it both ways, Linda.

    That said, 95% of Americans got a tax break this year, and the overall rate of taxation on the American people is the lowest it has been in decades.

    At its maximum, the amount of taxation on the American people will be significantly lower than it was in the Reagan years.

    Linda needs to be honest with herself here. What has changed since these years and those?

    Two things. First, the Bush Policies of war, tax cuts, and deregulation drove the country into the deepest recession we have seen since the Great Depression, and second, a black man named Barack Hussein Obama has been elected president.

  12. At its maximum, the amount of taxation on the American people will be significantly lower than it was in the Reagan years.
    Bill please provide any evidence of this. I do believe Reagan acutually lowered taxes.

    Tim Higgins

  13. what happens when BHO lets the Bush tax cuts expire, which he has stated repeatedly he will do.

    Everyone's taxes will increase.

    Tim Higgins

  14. Rod, I'm still not hearing the disproof of the original (and evidenced) final statement: that the majority of corporations pay no income tax.

    But our friends at Exxon Mobil are part of the patriotic corporate minority... sort of. Exxon Mobil paid $15 billion in income taxes last year. Unfortunately, not one penny of it went to Uncle Sam. It all went to Angola, Azerbaijan, Abu Dhabi, and the other foreign tax shelters of which they avail themselves. Exxon also posted record profits last year, which it used to lobby the heck out of Congress for more favors and to settle a lawsuit over deliberately unpaid natural gas royalties on leases of federal and Indian land.

    Exxon's just a regular gold-star corporate American citizen, isn't it?

    Meanwhile, conservatives throw out the 47% individual number to portray working people as freeloading boegymen. Nice.

  15. Barry:
    There was never a surplus under Bill Clinton. He cooked the books by stealing from SS to make it look like a surplus. You need to read Chapter 3 in The Government Racket 200 and Beyond by Martin L Gross, he explains how Clinton fooled the public.

    Tim Higgins

  16. Sure thing, Tim, here you go:


    Only in 1988 and 1989 (Ronald Reagan's final 13 months in office) was the TOP MARGINAL rate down to 28%. It was 69.13% when he went into office, and went from 69.13%-50% from 1981-1986, then 38.5%, then 28%.

    Barack Obama has proposed a top marginal tax rate of 39.6%, which was the rate under Bill Clinton. So with the exception of 13 months of Reagan's time in office, Obama's rate is lower than Reagan's.

  17. Tim. People are free to believe what they want. Even with your belief , based on this book, that there was no surplus, you have to start with the premise that Martin L Gross isn't also "cooking the books". The fact is the last 7 years of the Clinton Administration was the longest stretch of fiscally responsible government in my lifetime.

  18. Bill, you state, "The majority of the "tax increases" she highlights specifically address paying for the additional costs she bemoans." What in the heck are you talking about?

    This is my point. This irresponsible spending is the reason for all the tax increases to come. And Obama is still claiming that he isn't raising taxes?!

    Linda M

  19. His claim is that your taxes are down this year. And he's right, Linda. He did what he said he would do. He's also built in tax credits and incentives into the health care plan, which won't be measured until next year and the years after that. Let's talk about those years when we get to them.

    To repeat. Obama lowered taxes for 95% of Americans this year. Show us real evidence to the contrary, not just next year's chicken little story.

  20. Bill, it's not chicken little when you look at the facts in the health care bill stating the coming increased taxes. If he lowers them this year but increases them astronomically from now on, how is that keeping a promise? At least an implied promise that 95% of the people would not see ONE PENNY of increased taxes of any kind. And Obama did state that...and lied.

    And he is spending like there is a never ending supply of money, but even Bernanke said there is an end, and that end will be here by 2020 at the rate things are going. What happens if I max out my credit card, get a new one, max that one out too, and keep on doing so until I run out of companies willing to grant me a card, and then they all demand I start repaying, and my interest payments alone equal 95% of my earnings (i.e. US GNP)? How am I to ever pay them off? This is essentially what the US is doing, and they think they can get out of the hole by increasing taxes. When taxes are so high that people have no discretionary income left to spend, what happens to the economy? Just things to think about. I would like you to explain to me how Obama is going to keep taxes low (ha, ha) as he promised and still pay off his debts. Maybe he's David Copperfield; that's the only way I can see out of this mess.

  21. Like I said, Linda, the information you are using was specifically put together to scare and mislead you.

    The "meltdown" you described has already happened courtesy of the Bush administration. It would be wrong to blame Obama for it.

    Since Obama, the markets are up 3,000 points and jobs are coming on line. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy are going to be allowed to expire, and the economy will come back into line. Jobs are already on the uptick. Most economists agree that the recession is over and that Obama's actions helped us avoid another Great Depression and global economic collapse.

    And through all that, did your taxes go up this year? No. I'm guessing not.

    Will they next year? Depends on how much money you make. Beyond that, there is a recovery plan designed to benefit the majority of Americans.

    Let's see if it works. We gave GWB 8 years, we can at least afford to give Obama 4. By all (honest) accounts his programs are working quite well.

  22. Bill, you need to expand your horizons a little and look past your rosy sunrise picture. And no, my taxes did not go down. And they won't be going anywhere but up from here. If you can't see that, I can't convince you. The facts are all there, but you have to be willing to look at them and not believe all the Dem spin. Go back and read my link; it might enlighten you a bit.

  23. Linda, you will always have a hard time convincing people that you can predict the future. That's just the way it is, and the way it should be. The burden of proof is in the person making the claim. And the more extraordinary the claim, so too must be the (extraordinary) proof. I did read the article. It doesn't prove anything. The proof will be what the numbers show us this time next year, after people have filed their returns. Let's talk then. For now, Obama has kept his word. 95% of Americans got a break on their taxes this year. If you didn't Linda, maybe you should change accountants?

  24. Bill . I think Glenn Beck has crystal balls for sale on his website. Might be of some help if your interested :')

  25. Just got my 2010 property tax assessment for the land I own in Wyoming. The taxes have gone down to only 71 percent of what they were in 2009. Hee hee! One guess as to why!

  26. Bill:
    Lets make sure I have this straight. It is the claim that Obama is going to reduce taxes. he plans to let the Bush tax cuts expire, he is going to raise the top marginal rate from 38 to 39.6 This is a tax cut, right?

  27. Firebird, close but not quite. It is his claim (and a fact) that Obama reduced taxes for 95% of Americans this year. Further, he is going to let the Bush Tax cuts for the wealthy expire. Obama never promised not to raise his own taxes nor those of others in his high income tax bracket.

  28. Barry:

    Yes you can believe what you want. One of Martin L. Gross's references for this chapter is none other than www.publicdebt.treas.gov

    The end of the fiscal year on 9-30-1998 was a national debt of 5.526 Trillion. The national debt one year later when we supposedly had the surplus of 123 billion was only 5.656 Trillion. An increase in the national debt of 130 Billion.

    Yes Barry believe what you want to believe.

    Tim Higgins

  29. Tim . Agreed. The debt rose. I should have been more clear when I wrote budget surplus , I was referring to the deficit not the debt. Take a gander at this link and get back to me on the presidency that was the most fiscally responsible in the last
    50 years. Hint : his wife is the secretary of state.


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