Covering for Obama

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on September 27, 2011

Too much of the mainstream media continues its feeble attempts to prop up President Obama’s class-warfare rhetoric with its ostensible “fact-checking.”

Politifraud, which has too often been at the forefront of this effort, weighs in with this beauty, rating Obama’s claim that:

"A construction worker who’s making $50 or $60 grand a year shouldn’t be paying higher tax rates than the guy who’s making $50 million a year. And that’s how it’s working right now."

Really? Is that true? According to Politifraud, it’s “half-true.”

The bottom line is that taxpayers in Obama’s construction-worker income range tended to pay an effective federal income tax rate of 7 percent to 8 percent.

Clearly, then, the $10 million plus crowd is paying a higher average tax rate than the $50,000 to $75,000 crowd. But remember that Obama said $50 million, not $10 million. Does the math change for those who are even richer?

The best data we could find addresses the 400 highest-income taxpayers in the nation. In 2008, the cutoff to make it into this rarefied group was an income of $109.7 million -- which is above Obama’s $50 million threshold. These taxpayers had an average federal income tax rate of 18.1 percent, which is also higher than the rate paid by the $50,000 to $75,000 crowd.

Funny, that sure reads like a “false” and maybe even a “pants on fire.” How does this get bumped up to “half-true?”

But that’s not the end of the story. These figures are for federal income taxes only. There are also a bunch of other federal taxes that could, and probably should, be included in the calculation. The burden for some some [sic] taxes, including corporate taxes, excise taxes and estate taxes, are hard to attribute to individual returns, so we’ll set those aside. But one federal tax is straightforward to throw into our calculations: payroll taxes.

Like magic, Politifraud sets aside all of the additional taxes that would make Obama’s lie even more obvious and will only concern itself with the one that can bump the lower-income tax rate closer to the upper-income one.


Because it’s hard.

And they’re lazy.

And dishonest.

Jonathan Karl over at ABC News is at least a little more honest:

The key numbers:  this year those earning over $1 million will pay, on average, 29.1 percent on federal taxes.  Those earning between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay 15 percent.

The numbers change a bit if you look at total income before deductions and tax credits (Adjusted Gross Income), according to another non-partisan group, The Tax Foundation. Here’s how the numbers breakdown using IRS data from 2009 on Adjusted Gross Income for the income groups at issue in this discussion:

-           $10 million a year paid 22 percent.

-          $1 million  to $10 million paid 25 percent.

-          $50,000 to $75,000 paid 7 percent.

The rate for the middle-income filers drop because many individual deductions and tax credits are phased out for higher income taxpayers.

Beware of journalists doing math.


Over at Sublime Bloviations they've done a more in-depth takedown of this Politifact "fact-check."


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September 2011



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