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Middle Class Tax Cuts

Greg Mankiw runs the numbers from the latest CBO report on “Historical Effective Tax Rates, 1979 to 2005 — Supplement with Additional Data on Sources of Income and High-Income Households” and supplies us with the following “total effective federal tax rates for 2005, the most recent year available.”

Lowest quintile: 4.3 percent
Second quintile: 9.9 percent
Middle quintile: 14.2 percent
Fourth quintile: 17.4 percent
Percentiles 81-90: 20.3 percent
Percentiles 91-95: 22.4 percent
Percentiles 96-99: 25.7 percent
Percentiles 99.0-99.5: 29.7 percent
Percentiles 99.5-99.9: 31.2 percent
Percentiles 99.9-99.99: 32.1 percent
Top 0.01 Percentile: 31.5 percent

Mankiw points out that, unlike most figures, which include only income taxes and are thus subject to the charge that it overstates the disparity, “These figures include all federal taxes, not just income taxes.”

President-elect Obama’s call for a massive tax cut aimed at the “middle class” will be a neat trick, indeed.

UPDATE: The commentary below put me in mind of a bit of dialogue from “West Wing” that I found, amusingly enough, via Google on the comments of an old post at Dave Schuler’s place.

Henry, last fall, every time your boss got on the stump, and said, ‘It’s time for the rich to pay their fair share,’ I hid under a couch and changed my name. I left Gage Whitney making $400,000 a year, which means I paid twenty-seven times the national average in income tax. I paid my fair share, and the fair share of twenty-six other people. And, I’m happy to, ’cause that’s the only way it’s gonna work, and it’s in my best interest that everybody be able to go to schools and drive on roads, but I don’t get twenty-seven votes on election day. The fire department doesn’t come to my house twenty-seven times faster and the water doesn’t come out of my faucet twenty-seven times hotter. The top one percent of wage earners in this country pay for twenty-two percent of this country. Let’s not call them names while they’re doing it, is all I’m saying.

A fair exchange, I’d say.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    There’s always negative numbers.

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  2. odograph says:

    Thank you for posting this. I believe it confirms my suspicions about the “almost half of all Americans pay not Federal tax” meme.

    That meme was BS, but was held tightly by the wingnut machine. For a time. Funny how the gears in that machine are replaced without comment (by those inside of course).

    On a more serious note, I think that “tax-cut as stimulus” is dangerous politicking. In this environment cuts are likely to disappear into savings and debt reduction as did the last one. If we have to do it, we should use one of those “use it quick before it vanished” debit card options.

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  3. James Joyner says:

    Thank you for posting this. I believe it confirms my suspicions about the “almost half of all Americans pay not Federal tax” meme.

    That meme was BS, but was held tightly by the wingnut machine.

    The meme’s closer to true if you include only federal income taxes and exclude payroll (aka, Social Security) taxes. There’s a case for doing that, since the latter are arguably fee-for-service, but it’s misleading.

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  4. odograph says:

    Yes, James. You had to squint, but a segment were quite willing to squint if that’s what it took to believe.

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  5. odograph says:

    BTW, I am finding the old split-brain studies very interesting as we consider how economists split on stimulus and taxation:

    Humans aren’t rational — they rationalize. And I don’t just mean “some of them” or “other people”. I’m talking about everyone. We have a “logic engine” in our brains, but for the most part, it’s not the one in the driver’s seat — instead it operates after the fact, generating rationalizations and excuses for our behavior.

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  6. BridgeportJoe says:

    Does this really tell you anything without knowing the corresponding distribution of income? If the top 0.01% pay 31.5% of federal taxes but earn 50% of taxable income, it sounds like they’re getting a good deal.

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  7. BridgeportJoe says:

    Never mind, I was reading it wrong. (I was reading effective tax rate as share of the tax burden.) To answer my question, it looks like the top 0.01% earn 4.2% of the total income and pay 6.5% of total federal taxes.

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  8. Bootlegger says:

    The “middle” in middle class is absurd, without meaning, because darn near everyone claims to be in the middle. When you ask about subjective social class on a survey very few people will say “low” or “high”, everyone thinks they are in the middle class. Since Obama is calling every income under $250k/year “middle class” it will indeed lower the effective rates on quite a large number of people.
    If it was just aimed at the “middle” quintile, then you are correct, not much there.

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  9. PD Shaw says:

    I think it’s worth keeping in mind that most state and local taxes are flat or regressive and generally have been increasing over the years. I really don’t see any inequity or existential threat from tailoring federal tax rates in that context.

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  10. James Joyner says:

    PD: What do local taxes have to do with the just distribution of the federal tax burden? States and localities rely disproportionately on sales taxes, which are relatively flat, and property taxes, which are somewhat bell shaped. But so what?

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  11. Drew says:

    C’mon, odo. I’ve never heard anyone seriously assert that “almost half of Americans pay no federal taxes.” It is always qualified by “income taxes,” either explicitly or implicitly (because of payroll taxes, the “no taxes” assertion is incorrect by definition, and a person doesn’t have to be very sophisticated to understand that. And here you told me just a few weeks ago that you and your dinner party crowd were too sophisticated for that sort of stuff.) Alternatively, perhaps this was just a gratuitous attempt to vilify “wingnuts” by setting up a linguistic straw man.

    In any event, the general thrust of the ‘lower taxes’ advocates stands. The federal tax code is highly progressive. One doesn’t know where to divide that middle quintile statistic, but it would appear that half the population pays somewhere between 0% and about 11% of (adjusted gross) income in taxes or anywhere from zero, to 1/8th to about 1/3rd the rate of top earners. And of course, when converted to dollars, one obviously arrives at the oft cited – and correct – observation that the vast majority of the federal tax burden is paid by a relatively small minority: the top 20%/10% – pick your favorite stat – of income earners.

    In fact, if you want to cite ignorance. There are an awful lot of people in the bottom half of the income distribution who subscribe to the notion that in fact THEY are the ones carrying the majority of load. You can identify them easily: Democratic politicians routinely make red meat speeches to them blasting “tax cuts for the rich” and promising to reduce their taxes – down from 4% – 11% to zero, I guess. Or even, as Schuler notes, to the wonder of negative numbers. This despite the fact that tax incidence has grown steadily more progressive over the past 25 years. But you and your sophisto party mates knew that, right?

    Here’s another silly stat currently making the rounds: “the government bailout is going to cost every man, woman and child $xxx per…” usually delivered with an indignant tone. Setting aside that all people are not taxpayers, with the highly disproportionate incidence of taxation on the wealthy and upper middle class, one should more correctly state that the well-to-do are supposedly saving the country by bailing out banks, insurance companies, the auto companies etc, etc.

    Funny thing; “thank you” can’t be heard for all the deafening silence.

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  12. odograph, no, I don’t have to squint but only interpret the English language in a consistent and coherent way. Say what you mean, mean what you say. I believe that whenever I commented on this before I referred to federal income taxes, not federal taxes. Why would I do that? Well, to begin with they aren’t the same thing and PE Obama isn’t talking about giving FICA or Medicare tax breaks out, but he is talking about giving federal income tax breaks out. We’ll ignore the Ponzi scheme aspect of Social Security for the moment and the use of these supposedly earmarked monies as general funds, as that digression is beyond this discussion.

    If I failed to include the word income in any of my comments here, then for that I humbly apologize, since I have tried to be clear about that. On the other hand, if I did not fail to include the word income in my previous comments here, then perhaps you owe me an apology.

    Now, do you still want to claim that almost half of Americans don’t pay any federal income taxes? Or do you just want to argue that federal taxes and federal income taxes mean the same thing if you want them to? As someone who pays taxes on a business I can assure you the two are not synonymous and I have no trouble distinguishing between them.

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  13. odograph says:

    LOL

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  14. Leisureguy says:

    It would be interesting to see the total tax load by income quintile: that is, not only Federal income tax, but also payroll taxes (FICA, Medicare), state income and sales taxes, local income and sales taxes, property taxes, etc.

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  15. Steve Verdon says:

    Yes, James. You had to squint, but a segment were quite willing to squint if that’s what it took to believe.

    Once again Odograph you are missing the point though about a “middle class tax cut”. Obama isn’t suggesting these people get a cut in their Social Security taxes hence there is no way to “cut their taxes” because you already have a substantial number of these people paying little or nothing.

    Now if Obama’s plan also includes a tax holiday for Social Security or an outright cut…that might…MIGHT provide some limited stimulus. There are a number of reasons for this, but overall I can’t be motivated to go into the nitty gritty details.

    Suffice it to say, that the squinting is sometimes exactly what you need to do, just like you sometimes squint in real life for valid reasons.

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  16. odograph says:

    I’m not necessarily missing anything I’m not discussing.

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  17. Steve Verdon says:

    The point about the bottom half not paying federal income tax is neither a “BS meme”, nor is it an inappropriate measure depending on what the context of the discussion.

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  18. Leisureguy says:

    The figures in the post show the total federal tax burden, not just income tax. But people generally are concerned about their total tax burden that includes *all* taxes, federal, state, and local, and not just income taxes either. And of course, the bottom half (in terms of income) do pay plenty of money in taxes. If we know the total tax burden, it’s easy to figure whether the taxes (overall) are progressive or regressive.

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  19. PD Shaw says:

    PD: What do local taxes have to do with the just distribution of the federal tax burden?

    James, I suppose it depends on what is the question. First, do you support/oppose the notion of progressive taxation?

    People who support progressive taxation do so on fairness grounds, believing that those with relatively less income are disproportionately effected by taxes. I don’t know why that concern would be limited to the taxing authority. Would it be obscene for Obama to argue that the lowest quintile pays a proportionately high amount in state and local taxes and therefore, the federal income tax will be zero for people in the first quintile?

    To flip this around, the Illinois income tax is effectively regressive. I don’t get bent out of shape about it because the federal income tax is decidedly progressive.

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  20. Drew says:

    Liesureguy –

    You correctly point out that the argument inevitably devolves to the bottom line: what are my total taxes. But do you believe that the arithmetic result will end up with any different conclusion: the well off carry the vast majority of the tax burden, and in an increasing amount over the past 25 years?

    That said, as Verdon just pointed out, context matters. For example, SS has been marketed as a pay in-get back scheme, not a raw transfer payment. So including some taxes and excluding others does matter in discussion.

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  21. GreenVTster says:

    This was a very interesting study. It compares total earnings (not adjusted gross income or taxable earnings) to taxes paid. It includes all income and all taxes, even corporate taxes! It assigns corporate taxes proportionately to people based on their capital income. Seems squirrelly to me. If a corp pays $1M in taxes, ands up with $5M in profit and pays out $1M in dividends as earnings to one person (theoretically), that person would have a 100% tax rate just on the corp taxes assigned to him! Seems to me that including the corp taxes on the individuals skews this mightily. For example, the top .01 percentile is paying 31.5 percent of their income in federal taxes, but 13.9% is the allocation of these corporate taxes. Where are the corporate profits allocated????

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  22. Franklin says:

    A different picture emerges if you take the percentage in taxes out of net worth. I’m not saying we should tax based on net worth, but you will find that it is surprisingly “fair” in that sense, with the owners of 35% of the wealth paying around 32% of the taxes.

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  23. PD Shaw says:

    As a general comment, it’s interesting that the CBO report finds that about 53% of income comes from wages. The distribution appears bell shaped with lowest and highest incomes receiving the highest share of non-wage income.

    On the higher end, non-wage income derives from capital gains, interest and business income.

    On the lower end, non-wage income derives from welfare programs, social security, unemployment insurance, food stamps, school lunches, worker’s compensation, energy assistance and the “fungible value of Medicare and Medicaid.”

    It strikes me that on the lower end we are talking about things not customarily viewed as income. You can’t pay taxes with a free school lunch.

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  24. Leisureguy says:

    Yes, the well-off should pay a higher proportion of their income in (total) taxes, and the middle class should pay less, and the poor should pay no taxes at all. This is in accordance with Adam Smith’s statement in Wealth of Nations:

    The subject of every State ought to contribute towards the support of the government, as nearly as possible, in proportion to their respective abilities; that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the State.

    The poor pay no taxes because once they pay for the necessary expenses of living they have little or no money. Living in a society together should benefit all.

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  25. Drew says:

    PD Shaw –

    I think you correctly point out that the array of taxes paid all have different levels of progressivity etc. But does this not argue for some universal world view that the aggregate amount of taxes paid by an individual on their income reach some cap? If not, tortured interpretations of economics and “fairness” by advocates of various stripes inevitably lead to the conclusion that no amount of taxation is unwarranted.

    In such debates I often will ask a person: “what is the maximum amount of taxes, as a percentage of income, that you believe a person should be required to turn over to the government to run our collective affairs?” You would be surprised by the overwhelming common response: 10% – 25%.

    As a matter of intuition, and I guess of intuitive “equity,” or fairness people seem to cap out at 25%. It just doesn’t seem inherently just to people to fork over more. If only they knew.

    Let’s suppose you make $500K/yr – in some peoples views “rich.” Fed taxes alone are probably 26%. Property taxes? Here in DuPage County, IL, with an $800K house: $20K, or 4%. State taxes? Let’s average: 5% = $25K. (Pity the fool’s living in Westchester Cty, NY, as I used to.) Just to be charitable, let’s cut the analysis off there. You have $330K in disposable income. For shixts and grins, let’s say you save $80K, and spend $250K. In Cook County, IL, you pay a 10% sales tax. Let’s just say on average people pay a 6% sales tax on $250K in consumption. That’s another $15K.

    The total tax burden on your income? $190K. That’s 38%. And I was gracious. Gas taxes? More than 6%. Hotel, restaurant, rental car etc?? Other local taxes? More. Got stocks and bonds?? You pay twice! Once when you earn the money, and then when the money earns. More, more, more.

    I’ll bet the truth be told, an upper middle class person (and isn’t that what everyone strives for? Bill Gates being out of the range of the doable?) pays 45%.

    Of course, as we are told, they are not paying “their fair share.” They ought to pay “just a little more.”
    (That’s code for “all we can extract.”)

    You can do the exact same analysis on someone earning $30K, or $80K. Your conclusions will/should be three-fold: 1) they pay too much, 2) the government should go on a diet, 3) they don’t pay anything like what the well-to-do do, on a percentage or absolute dollar basis.

    Facts the left doesn’t want you to know.

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  26. Drew says:

    “It strikes me that on the lower end we are talking about things not customarily viewed as income.”

    Really? Payment in kind is not income? What’s the difference? Money – income – is turned into those goods or services.

    “You can’t pay taxes with a free school lunch.”

    So someone else’s income, taken and used to pay for the lunch, is legitimately accessible in the form of taxation on income. But the benefit, the inverse of taxed income, should not be accounted for as income.

    Argue, if you wish, that low income people should not be taxed. But do not confuse their benefits with the absence of income. Money = goods and services.

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  27. Steve Verdon says:

    The poor pay no taxes because once they pay for the necessary expenses of living they have little or no money. Living in a society together should benefit all.

    That’s fine Leisureguy, but there is no call for villifying or saying that the rich don’t pay their fair share or complaining if a tax cut then gives the rich a larger cut. After all they are paying a larger share so it is only reasonable that the cuts for the rich be larger, at least in dollar terms.

    It strikes me that on the lower end we are talking about things not customarily viewed as income. You can’t pay taxes with a free school lunch.

    But you can pay the imputed income tax on the value of the good you just recieved. Don’t laugh, the IRS does consider this for things like televisions, cars and other items you win on game shows. They could do it for the rental value of owner-occupied homes. Sure you own it and live in it, but you could rent it out and earn income off of it. So we’ll impute that income to your actual income, and then we’ll allow you to deduct your mortgage payments and hopefully it will all balance out. If not, well tough crap, time to sell your house and move into a rental.

    So someone else’s income, taken and used to pay for the lunch, is legitimately accessible in the form of taxation on income. But the benefit, the inverse of taxed income, should not be accounted for as income.

    Argue, if you wish, that low income people should not be taxed. But do not confuse their benefits with the absence of income. Money = goods and services.

    Quite true. This is why economists prefer to use consumption as a measure of welfare instead of income. Because people strive mightily to smooth out consumption even if income is not so smooth.

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  28. Franklin says:

    Another note or two:

    Everybody, left and right, uses the word ‘fair’ as if it is objective. It is not. A “fair tax” that benefits some rich guy who inherited his father’s business, keeps money in offshore accounts, gets easy access to politicians because of his connections, and receives corporate welfare doesn’t sound the least bit “fair” to me, but it obviously does to others. That there is a capable guy on the opposite end of the spectrum intentionally mooching off of welfare also doesn’t sound “fair” to me.

    One can easily agree with Drew’s three points without endorsing any particular “fair” tax. To truly attack that issue, we would have to agree on what the goals of government are, and I don’t think we’re going to manage to do that in this particular thread.

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  29. PD Shaw says:

    Drew:

    I think you correctly point out that the array of taxes paid all have different levels of progressivity etc. But does this not argue for some universal world view that the aggregate amount of taxes paid by an individual on their income reach some cap?

    Perhaps, I don’t have any concrete views on the most just tax system. I think you are right that at the bare minimum the system of taxation must be a sustainable source to fund the government’s spending. I don’t know what the proper level is; that’s the eternal debate.

    Payment in kind is not income? What’s the difference? Money – income – is turned into those goods or services.

    A dictionary definition of income: “The return in money from one’s business, labor, or capital invested; gains, profits, salary, wages, etc.” I think income is commonly considered something other than a benefit for which you are eligible. I have a government issued library card, is that income to me?

    I don’t think considering government benefits to be a source of income is wrong. (It’s useful in considering that the lowest quintile is receiving relatively more in wages than government hand-outs over the last 20 years are so)

    But in the context of tax policy, most people are thinking about gross income as used in income tax forms. If we used gross income, then the effective tax rates in the lowest quintile would probably double and those in the middle quintiles would go up significantly as well. There would be room for middle tax cuts.

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  30. Leisureguy says:

    That’s fine Leisureguy, but there is no call for villifying or saying that the rich don’t pay their fair share or complaining if a tax cut then gives the rich a larger cut. After all they are paying a larger share so it is only reasonable that the cuts for the rich be larger, at least in dollar terms.

    Right. As you know, I have vilified no one. So far as cuts go, the problem with cuts for the wealthy (so far as a recovery is concerned) is that the wealthy will bank and not spend the money, since they have plenty of money already to support themselves. For the stimulus to work, the money should go to the poor and the middle class, who will spend the money and boost demand. And since we don’t want to sacrifice tax dollars needlessly, the wealthy should not (I think) get any more tax cuts. They have received quite a bit over the past 8 years.

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  31. odograph says:

    FWIW, my reading of all the public economists is that the stimulus by infrastructure guys have a stronger case. When we add my caveat, that we only choose infrastructure projects that “we were going to have to do anyway” in the next 10 years or so, it seems a pretty safe bet.

    It should be a time-shifting game and not a make-work game.

    This snippet seems a fair summary of the situation:

    A slump is a tragedy for those who lose their jobs and also for those who fear to lose them. But it is also a logical absurdity that there should exist unsatisfied wants side by side with idle workers willing to supply them. The natural condition of mankind is one of scarcity, and conflicts are often about the allocation of scarce resources. You cannot usually have endless amounts of both guns and butter. …

    But in a slump the rule of these copybook maxims is temporarily suspended. You can have more of A without sacrificing B. You can have environmental investment without sacrificing consumer satisfaction. Indeed the slump arises because not enough is being spent. We are in a kind of parallel universe familiar to cosmologists, when the normal rules are turned upside down and the traditional prudential warnings no longer apply. …

    (arguments about who pays tax and who should get a cut seem out of sync with these special times)

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  32. PD Shaw says:

    odograph, it would be interesting to condition federal support for state infrastructure improvements on long-term sanity in state pension benefits.

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  33. odograph says:

    Sure PD, and some kind of assurance that before paying $60K employees $100K in overtime, they just hire a second employee.

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  34. odograph says:

    Oops, it sounds like I missed the last news cycle:

    Yes, 40 percent of the Obama stimulus package will be a tax cut. It’s already a talking point that “the Democrats have lost their nerve” but the reality is not so devious. Obama wishes to deliver on his pledge to cut taxes (always electorally popular) and upon close inspection the economic team probably hasn’t found a lot of first-year stimulus spending it likes.

    I do not have a snap judgment on that, but if someone tells they looked for good stimulus projects and came up short, I’d lean toward believing them.

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  35. Steve Verdon says:

    Right. As you know, I have vilified no one. So far as cuts go, the problem with cuts for the wealthy (so far as a recovery is concerned) is that the wealthy will bank and not spend the money, since they have plenty of money already to support themselves. For the stimulus to work, the money should go to the poor and the middle class, who will spend the money and boost demand. And since we don’t want to sacrifice tax dollars needlessly, the wealthy should not (I think) get any more tax cuts. They have received quite a bit over the past 8 years.

    Once again, as a general rule there is little or no money to “cut” in terms of taxes for the lower portion of the income distribution if you are talking about federal income taxes…unless you want to use negative numbers, but then please call it what it is a direct cash transfer or more simply–welfare.

    FWIW, my reading of all the public economists is that the stimulus by infrastructure guys have a stronger case.

    Only one problem: time. Infrastructure spending is not something you do quickly and it could provide little lasting benefit if done badly (bridges to nowhere, etc.). So it is entirely possible that you could end up getting the biggest bang for your “stimulus buck” after the recession ends.

    From Odograph’s link,

    That is where the government comes in. It serves two roles here, one is to provide the funding (and also, by offering wages, giving people the incentive to do the work instead of watching sports), but it is also important for the government to coordinate activity as well, to bring people together to work on the highest value projects in the community in whatever sector – public or private- those projects might be in.

    I wonder if Mark Thoma has ever worked in government. I’m thinking no considering that he still thinks there is a pony in there somewhere.

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  36. Rick DeMent says:

    “…please call it what it is a direct cash transfer or more simply–welfare.”

    Any time you borrow money in order to give out a “tax cut” it’s welfare. no matter how much you pay in taxes. in this and the last century were nothing more then Keynesian stimulus and had no more or less effect on the economy then just giving borrowed money away (which is what they do when they talk about “tax cuts”)

    That’s why cutting taxes is a dumb way to stimulate the economy. Unless the marginal rats are in the 80% range, and you are cutting form surplus, it’s welfare.

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  37. Rick DeMent says:

    “…please call it what it is a direct cash transfer or more simply–welfare.”

    Any time you borrow money in order to give out a “tax cut” it’s welfare. no matter how much you pay in taxes. in this and the last century were nothing more then Keynesian stimulus and had no more or less effect on the economy then just giving borrowed money away (which is what they do when they talk about “tax cuts”)

    That’s why cutting taxes is a dumb way to stimulate the economy. Unless the marginal rates are in the 80% range, and you are cutting from surplus, it’s welfare.

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  38. Rick DeMent says:

    Sorry about the double post the second one reads better :)

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  39. Drew says:

    “…the problem with cuts for the wealthy (so far as a recovery is concerned) is that the wealthy will bank and not spend the money, since they have plenty of money already to support themselves. For the stimulus to work, the money should go to the poor and the middle class, who will spend the money and boost demand.”

    I’m not so sure. I have just returned from several weeks in Hawaii, with a stay at the beautiful Grand Wailea on Maui. Paris Hilton was there, as was CC Sabathia. To be sure, the current economic and tax environment did not affect their decision to go there. However, the talk among the workers was that the occupancy rate was headed to 40%. 40% !! Whatup with that??

    Paris and CC aside – for they represent only a minute fraction of the population – most people are reacting to the economic environment. And so, similarly, they will react to tax policy.

    Be careful what you seek, folks. The vast majority of people react to tax policy – your assertion notwithstanding. And if you REALLY care about the Average Joe – you know, the cooks, maids, waiters, bellmen, shop owners etc dependent on people going to the resort I just referenced, then you might not want to so cavalierly discount the spending behavior of those below the super-duper rich category, even though you – in your own wisdom – have deemed the less than super-duper rich to “have enough money.” The Average Joe’s job depends on a more thoughtful response from you.

    “And since we don’t want to sacrifice tax dollars needlessly, the wealthy should not (I think) get any more tax cuts. They have received quite a bit over the past 8 years.”

    This assumes that the tax rate was “just right” before the cuts. Just exactly what is the “right rate” and what do you say to the newly unemployed worker at the Grand – based upon your all knowing judgment?

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  40. Barry says:

    “This was a very interesting study. It compares total earnings (not adjusted gross income or taxable earnings) to taxes paid. It includes all income and all taxes, even corporate taxes! It assigns corporate taxes proportionately to people based on their capital income. Seems squirrelly to me. If a corp pays $1M in taxes, ands up with $5M in profit and pays out $1M in dividends as earnings to one person (theoretically), that person would have a 100% tax rate just on the corp taxes assigned to him! Seems to me that including the corp taxes on the individuals skews this mightily. For example, the top .01 percentile is paying 31.5 percent of their income in federal taxes, but 13.9% is the allocation of these corporate taxes. Where are the corporate profits allocated????”

    Posted by GreenVTster

    Greg Mankiw has been a right-wing hack for quite some time now. And spare me the fact that he’s a Hahvahd Pro-fessor; that’s totally compatible with being a hack.

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  41. Barry says:

    Some comments on this piece:

    http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2009/01/how-progressive.html

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  42. Leisureguy says:

    @Drew: Just to be absolutely clear: I am not at all someone who’s “all knowing.” Don’t know how you got the idea that I am (or claimed to be).

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  43. Steve Verdon says:

    Barry,

    Just curious, if Mankiw is a hack what is Krugman, a complete f*cking retard? Just curious.

    After all in looking at the post that is linked here he pretty much offers the numbers with some explanation and no other comment. That qualifies for right-wing hackery?

    If so, thanks for sharing your enormous bias with us. We’ll all know not to take you the least bit seriously in the future.

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  44. Drew says:

    Liesureguy –

    Just spicing it up a bit. Sterile, academic commentary – especially on an internet site, can get old.

    No offense was intended. Please take none………….or send a zinger or two back!

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  45. […] this week, I published the breakdown of tax burdens that has been making the rounds: Lowest quintile: 4.3 percent Second quintile: 9.9 percent Middle […]

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