August 21, 2007
God Bless the Child…

Well, as Billie said, God bless the child that’s got his own.

It’s not news that

  • The total income Americans list on tax returns failed to grow from year to year only once in the post-World War II period. Until 2001, when it declined four years straight. In 2005, the latest year for which data was published, the total went up slightly but was still lower than in 2001; the average actually declined because there were more taxpayers.
  • Less than a quarter of one percent of taxpayers — those reporting a million dollars or more — got almost 47% of the total income gains in 2005 compared to 2001.
  • The same folks got 62% of the benefits of the Bush tax cuts on capital gains and dividends.
  • Of the 134 million taxpayers, 11,433, reporting $10 million or more each, got tax breaks of nearly $1.9 million each, for a total of $21.7 billion. The 90% reporting under $100,000 in income averaged $318 in tax savings on their investments.

So who does the White House blame it on? Stop me if you’ve heard this one…

That’s right, Clinton:

The White House said the fact that average incomes were smaller five years after the Internet bubble burst “should not surprise anyone.”

And 9/11:

Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, attributed the drop in average incomes to “the significant wrenching hits that our economy took in 2001 and 2002, so no one should be surprised that what a bubble economy created in the late 1990s and 2000, where economic data were skewed, would take some time to recover.”

Mr. Fratto said the fact that nearly all of the growth in incomes was among those in the upper reaches of the income ladder and that the majority of investment tax breaks went to those making more than $1 million “is not a very interesting story.”


He said the more significant issue was the reduction in taxes for middle-class Americans that Mr. Bush won from Congress.

You gotta admire their consistency if nothing else.

Happily, the Times injected a small note of sanity in the midst of all this.

The fact that average incomes remained lower in 2005 than five years earlier helps explain why so many Americans report feeling economic stress despite overall growth in the economy. Many Americans are also paying a larger share of their health care costs and have had their retirement benefits reduced, adding to their out-of-pocket costs.

I’m tempted to make a snide comment but I think I’ll refrain.


Posted by Chuck Dupree at August 21, 2007 02:56 AM
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