Saturday, April 18, 2009

Teabags and Tax Rates, Real and Imagined

Here’s a puzzle:

Despite the fact that income inequality in the U.S. has increased dramatically over the past 27 years, there has not been a leftward shift in economic policy in the U.S., as noted by Brad DeLong.

Conservative former Bush administration Treasury Department economist Bruce Bartlett notes that not only does the U.S. have lower tax rates than all but 4 of the 30 countries in the OECD, but the median American family in 2007 (he didn’t have the data yet for 2008 but was sure it’s even lower than it was in 2007) had a lower effective tax rate than any American generation since 1950.

Steve Benen used Bartlett’s data to create a graph illustrating this.

Bartlett’s conclusion? “I believe this was largely a partisan exercise designed to improve the fortunes of the Republican Party, not an expression of genuine concern about taxes or our nation's fiscal future.”

He notes in conclusion:
People should remember that while they have the right to their opinion, they are not entitled to be taken seriously. That only comes from having credibility gained by the correct presentation of facts and analysis and a willingness to be even-handed--criticizing one's own side when it is wrong and not only speaking up when the other party does the same thing.

None of the above, however, seems to have affected the perceptions or behavior of the teabaggers or their cynical political and media promoters. Roy Edroso at alicublog visits the teabaggers’ hearts of darkness.

What do you think accounts for the teabagger phenomenon? Add your two cents in the Comments section below.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this, it's quite illuminating. I only have 2 minors issues with it, paranoiac that I am.

First, pardon my incredulity, but anything said by any member of that administration needs to be met with skepticism and sourced. A minor point but one that I've learned after 8 years to apply.

Secondly, I strongly object to any reference to teabagging as a "phenomenon".

The largest protests in the entire history of the entire world (Guinness Book of Records) in March 2003 before Gulf War 2 began, the ones involving 36 million people in 800 cities on earth, the ones that got about 30 seconds on each major broadcast outlet, those qualified as a "phenomenon".

These "events" are reality TV; scripted, promoted, funded and manufactured Fox News and are no more a "phenomenon" than How To Marry A Millionaire, Flavor of Love or MTV's Real World.

Sign Sans Signified said...

You and I are certainly in agreement on the trustworthiness of the previous administration. However, it does not logically follow that every person who worked for that crew was equally mendacious and/or insane. I disagree with Bartlett's politics, but his numbers, in this instance at least, are solid. This data has been widely available for quite some time. There are some honest conservatives--people with whom I disagree on any number of issues but who I can tell are honest, intelligent and are trying to make sense of the world. They approach issues from different directions than I would, but we all are shaped by different frames of reference. Daniel Larison and Andrew Sullivan are two such intellects.

In re my use of the term "phenomenon,", point well taken. I hadn't thought of it in the terms you raised & certainly did not intend to lend even a hint of legitimacy to what we agree was a collection of classic pseudoevents.