I can’t seem to escape Halloween themes this month. Last night, for example, Mrs. Squirrel and the baby and I decided to watch the local baseball team. The Tampa Bay Rays are in an American League playoff series with the Texas Rangers. The Rays are, of course, named for a fish. Or they were, back when they were the Devil Rays. There was a local tiff about that for a few weeks, until everyone with an IQ higher than a macadamia realized the devil ray is a fish and the baseball team would not be summoning demons to assist them on the field. It’s always Halloween in some people’s minds.
Soon enough, everyone got over it and just called them the D-Rays. In 2008, they shortened the name to Rays and replaced their logo with a sunbeam, because South Blogistan is the Sunshine State. But they still have petting tank with rays (the fish) in the outfield, and they still have the logo of that fish on their sleeves, lest the jilted demonic fish leap out of Tampa Bay and eat the city. Like I said, it’s always Halloween in some people’s minds.
Take the response to President Obama’s proposed “Buffett Rule,” for example. That would ensure that no wealthy investor or hedge fund manager pays a lower federal income tax rate than ordinary working Americans. That seems sensible enough to me, but Texas Governor and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry called it “socialism.” The National Review‘s Daniel Foster, Rush Limbaugh, and even former Democratic strategist Mark Penn call it “class warfare.”
Most of what I know about class warfare comes from Charles Dickenfluff’s A Tail of Two Trees. I had to read that in high school, like most squirrels. You humans read the translation. The point is, class warfare is awful. Heads get cut off. Blood runs in the streets. Women knit. I was never sure how that last part fit in, but it involved a secret code. Anyway, as anyone who read that book can attest, it was a horrific ordeal. Class warfare, I mean. Well, the book was too, but I digress.
So I decided to research President Obama’s plan. I figured the president would need a military to fight his class warfare, so I found an article by Greg Sargent – named for his rank in this class warfare army, who apparently can’t spell – to get the inside scoop on the class warfare plan. He talked to the Tax Policy Center, which I guess is a class warfare military intelligence unit, and they got out their knitting needles and came up with these charts:
That’s how taxes would change for each quintile. The dark blue lines are after-tax incomes at the end of President Clinton’s term. The red lines are after-tax incomes at the end of President Bush’s term. The green lines are after-tax incomes as of 2011. The purple lines are after-tax incomes under President Obama’s proposal, excluding the high-income surtax in the Affordable Care Act. And the light blue lines are after-tax incomes under President Obama’s proposal, including that surtax.
According to the Tax Policy Center, after-tax incomes for the top 20% would fall from an average $204,011 under the Bush tax code to an average $198,147 per year. That’s a whole 3% decrease. It’s not quite heads rolling and blood in the streets. Maybe it’s mostly about knitting.
Or maybe we need to look closer at that top 20%:
Okay, so there’s really no change for the people in the 80th to 99th percentiles. It’s just the people in the top 1% who are taken to the tax guillotine. Their after-tax incomes fall from an average $1,240,975 under the Bush tax code to an average $1,143,598 under President Obama’s plan. That’s an 8% drop. How will they afford knitting needles and yarn?
I’m still not seeing any Dickensian carnage. Maybe that’s where the secret code comes in.
Good day and good nuts.