The Poor Get Richer

Under President Bush spending on poverty programs rose to a record 16.3% of the Federal Budget and this is a record Federal Budget. Spending on the poor is up 39% under President Bush and proposed CUTS merely mean that instead of rising another 39% in the next five years, it will rise only 38%.

Meanwhile, the percentage of the total tax paid by the rich (top 20%) has increased from 56% to 66%. While the lowest 40% pay almost nothing.

In fact in terms of FEDERAL taxes, under President Bush taxes paid by the lower 40% dropped from about zero to NEGATIVE 2% because of tax credits provided by the President's tax policies.

Lower income earners pay some taxes, when you include total tax burden, but not much.

So when you say that tax cuts help the poor less, you are right. When you pay nothing, you can't get a cut. But that is not really an honest argument.

If you want to debate redistribution of wealth, we can. But let's call it what it is and not pretend that the President's policies have made the poor poorer or that the tax burden is being shifted to the poor or even the middle class.

The poor pay less and get more now than they did under President Clinton and will pay less and get even more in five years than they do today. The real question is how much LESS do we want the poorer half of the country to contribute and maybe is it wise for half the population to pay little or not tax and therefore have no personal stake in controlling wasteful government?


Posted by Jack at February 16, 2006 10:22 PM
Comment #126172

Good column. My theory has always been that if the rich always vote for Republicans, the last thing the Dems want is for the poor to get rich. They use class warfare as part of their propaganda campaign. The Dems need the poor to stay poor or, sadly, to get poorer, and they will do whatever they can to make sure that happens. Like always, votes are the most important thing.

Posted by: Duano at February 16, 2006 10:42 PM
Comment #126180


Your reference shows that the rich % went from 56% in 1979 to 66% in 2003. NOT 86%.

In the similar period, the percentage of wealth owned by just the top 1% went from 20% to 37% with the top 20% now owning over 80% of this country.

Boy oh boy, those poor rich people and rich poor people. Let’s help those needy CEO’s, eh?

Posted by: Dave at February 16, 2006 11:10 PM
Comment #126181


Good post. It gives lie to those who talk about the drastic budget cuts of the President. What they don’t say, and what most folks don’t know, is the definition of a budget cut in Washington. If our family wants to save money, or suffers from a financial setback, we have to cut the spending we do in chosen areas. These would be actual cuts of, say, 20% of what we are now spending for entertainment.

In Washington, a budget cut means that the increased spending asked for is reduced. Most of the time, there is no actual cut in the amount to be spent, you just don’t get as big an increase as you wanted. To truly understand what is happening here, you need 4 numbers. Let’s take the Department of Education for example. You need the amount asked for in last year’s budget. You need the actual spending during the fiscal year. Then you need the amount asked for in this year’s budget, then you need the amount approved. I would venture to say that in almost every case, there is no cut from last year’s figures, only a smaller increase.

This happens in departments, projects, anywhere there is money to be spent. One possible solution would be to put a sunset provision in every appropriation bill. It coould be a year, two years, but in no case would it exceed four years. When the sunset provision kicked in, the person in charge of that department or project would have to come before the Budget Committee and justify it’s continued funding. All of this would be out in the open for all the world to see.

It might be that we could see some actual reductions in Federal spending.

Posted by: John Back at February 16, 2006 11:11 PM
Comment #126188

Dave’s comments display the twist that I always hear in these arguments…

The conservatives speak of the wage-earning statistics. Then the liberals twist the facts with “wealth” statistics.

How much a person “owns” is not the issue. The issue is how much a person “earns” in a tax year.

Dave, please stay on the issue.

Posted by: Don at February 16, 2006 11:40 PM
Comment #126189

Even though I’m a conservative I am not impressed with this budget. I do not see it as fiscally conservative. Unless tax revenues end up exceeding budget increases (and hopefully they will), I cannot support this budget.

But this article leads us to a term Democrats have been throwing around lately . . the “fear mongering” republicans. Let us remember that liberals are never afraid to shy away from fear mongering with their baseless “Republicans hate poor people” and “Republicans want to get rid of health care” mantras.

Posted by: Ken Cooper at February 16, 2006 11:45 PM
Comment #126195


I don’t know why, but these figures being touted by this administration just don’t jive. I keep hearing about all these tax cuts, but if I did received one it is unnoticeable. In fact in the last couple years I have gotten back much less than in other years, even though they are taking the same % of my income.

You state that spending on poverty has risen by double digits. But why? We keep being told about this wonderful 4.7% unemployment rate. If more people are working, shouldn’t spending on poverty be reduced? Why are the welfare rolls increasing, while at the same time the President claims we need immigrants to come here to fill jobs that Americans don’t want to do? Shouldn’t people on welfare be doing those jobs, whether they want to or not?

Why was the Clinton economic boom so different than this supposed one now? During the Clinton boom, companies increased wages to attract and retain workers because there was a worker shortage. I could be wrong but I don’t remember hearing about any big layoffs then either. In fact the Big Three automakers were rolling in the money and hiring workers left and right. With a 4.7% unemployment rate, why not now? Why do I hear, almost daily, about more layoffs? Why have my wages, which grew substantially during the Clinton years, remained stagnant now? Something here doesn’t jive.

Posted by: JayJay Snowman at February 17, 2006 12:06 AM
Comment #126196

Jack, your article is lying with statistics.

First of all, the 133 billion in health care spending on the poor is a lie. It is lie because the President told the nation his Medicare Rx plan would cost less than 40 billion. Now the White House admits it is costing taxpayers 1.2 Trillion dollars. And why the huge leap? Because of the Republican’s stipulation that the Big Pharmaceutical companies would not have to bid against each other for providing their drugs. Hence, about a half trillion dollars of the President’s spending on the poor is nothing more than transfer of taxes to the wealthy Big Pharma through inflated monopolistic pricing.

Yes, let’s do call this wealth redistribution what it is. And how much of this health care spending goes to the 12 to 20 million illegal immigrants Bush so loves and wants to keep here. Every dollar spent on their health care is a dollar not spent for American tax payers or poor.

In addition, the 10% increase in health care spending does not even equal the rate of health care inflation. So, in fact, the poor are getting less health care under Bush.

That 30 Billion in housing assistance includes 600 million for trailers FEMA bought that are now sitting in various locations empty and unused deteriorating to a unsaleable condition. Then add in some more millions spent on $400/night hotel rooms for Katrina victims, some of which were never occupied and others of which were converted to storage rooms.

Then the IG reports some number of millions went to con artists and fraud payments as the FEMA processed claims for cash assistance over the phone without verification of ID, address, or even validation of a property damaged.

Also, the highest 20% paying more taxes reflects nothing more than the fact that the highest 20% got that much richer under Bush accounting for their paying that much more taxes. It is still true, the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. It’s a pretty sad statement that 1 in 5 American taxpayers is near the poverty line in the wealthiest nation. Some compassion. Poverty is painful, damaging, and deadly.

Also, let’s not forget that the highest 20% pay taxes on things the rest of Americans could wish to pay, excise taxes, bloated real estate taxes on inflated multi-million dollar real estate prices. It the rich want to pay inflated taxes on during an inflated real estate valuation period, let them, but, please don’t tell me Bush has anything to do with raising their total taxes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Bush has cut their tax rates, they are simply purchasing far more. Afterall, they can afford to under Bush, can’t they?

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 17, 2006 12:07 AM
Comment #126198

don, when you talk wages, you must talk inflation as well. But when you talk wealth by assets, you are talking about a more constant assessment of how well people are doing.

BTW, have you considered the logic that if Bush is having to spend these vast sums more on the poor, that poverty MUST be on the RISE under Bush: Even after adjusting for inflation, wealth redistribution to the Big Pharma’s and war industry, and waste, fraud and abuse?

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 17, 2006 12:18 AM
Comment #126199

Well the problem for the d’s is that they have and cannot ever change their propaganda line. It seems that for them it is almost a pavlovian response to anything that the GOP do. give them the facts and figures no doesn’t mean anything even though they have nothing to say as to how they would do it better or for that matter even different. they are party with message so old and used a ton of moth balls couldn’t prevent their coats of bull from beeing left with nothing but thread. As a matter of fact let’s save some time just get a standard statement taped and just replay it when necessary, make it a press conference with cut outs of whatever d. “The republicans are yet again putting the burden on the backs of the poor and middle class by cutting (insert federal program here). These enourmous cuts spell disaster.”
Q. But congressman this proposed cut as you say only lowers the growth of the program over the next milenium by .000000000000014098%?

A. This unprecedented attack on this program will on make the poorer poorer and the richer rich. As a result of cuts in this program a federal employee constitutent in my district will no longer get comp timefor when she answers the phone one minute before he rlunch hour is over. Where will this horror end. I tell you this is the apocolypse the end of days and you can blame on those heartless republicans

Posted by: Bud at February 17, 2006 12:19 AM
Comment #126215

1.Last year we spent $150,000,000 on this item.
2.This year we’ll spend $250,000,000.
3.No let’s spend only $200,000,000.
4.We just cut spending by $50,000,000.
And folks wounder why the budget doesn’t get balanced and the national debt is out of control.

Posted by: Ron Brown at February 17, 2006 1:11 AM
Comment #126216

The thing I have to wounder about is if the Democrats are as intrested in cutting spending and balancing the budget as they claim. Why aint they threating a filibuster over the budget? They don’t mind doing it over a Supreme Court justice. Why don’t they do it over something worth the trouble sometime?

Posted by: Ron Brown at February 17, 2006 1:17 AM
Comment #126223

Republicans are the last people on earth who could tolerate living in a country with millions of poor people, and yet, they want to continue to create more. Look around you. Travel to countries that have millions of poor. Is that what you really want for America? Dave is right on the money about the money.

Posted by: E at February 17, 2006 1:26 AM
Comment #126237

Fascinating. David R. Remer and JayJay Snowman counters Jack’s arguments with easily proven facts.

Can any Republican dispute them?

Posted by: Aldous at February 17, 2006 1:59 AM
Comment #126254

Those damn Liberal Liars!!!

Our hollow prosperity

by Patrick J. Buchanan
February 15, 2006

Now that the U.S. trade deficit for 2005 has come in at $726 billion, the fourth straight all-time record, a question arises.

What constitutes failure for a free-trade policy? Or is there no such thing? Is free trade simply right no matter the results?

Last year, the United States ran a $202 billion trade deficit with China, the largest ever between two nations. We ran all-time record trade deficits with OPEC, the European Union, Japan, Canada and Latin America. The $50 billion deficit with Mexico was the largest since NAFTA passed and also the largest in history.

When NAFTA was up for a vote in 1993, the Clintonites and their GOP fellow-travelers said it would grow our trade surplus, raise Mexico’s standard of living and reduce illegal immigration.

None of this happened. Indeed, the opposite occurred. Mexico’s standard of living is lower than it was in 1993, the U.S. trade surplus has vanished, and America is being invaded. Mexico is now the primary source of narcotics entering the United States.

Again, when can we say a free-trade policy has failed?

The Bush-ites point proudly to 4.6 million jobs created since May 2003, a 4.7 percent unemployment rate and low inflation.

Unfortunately, conservative columnist Paul Craig Roberts and analysts Charles McMillion and Ed Rubenstein have taken a close look at the figures and discovered that the foundation of the Bush prosperity rests on rotten timber.

The entire job increase since 2001 has been in the service sector – credit intermediation, health care, social assistance, waiters, waitresses, bartenders, etc. – and state and local government.

But, from January 2001 to January 2006, the United States lost 2.9 million manufacturing jobs, 17 percent of all we had. Over the past five years, we have suffered a net loss in goods-producing jobs.

“The decline in some manufacturing sectors has more in common with a country undergoing saturation bombing than with a super-economy that is ‘the envy of the world,’” writes Roberts.

Communications equipment lost 43 percent of its workforce. Semiconductors and electronic components lost 37 percent … The workforce in computers and electronic products declined 30 percent. Electrical equipment and appliances lost 25 percent of its workforce.

How did this happen? Imports. The U.S. trade deficit in advanced technology jobs in 2005 hit an all-time high.

As for the “knowledge industry” jobs that were going to replace blue-collar jobs, it’s not happening. The information sector lost 17 percent of all its jobs over the last five years.

In the same half-decade, the U.S. economy created only 70,000 net new jobs in architecture and engineering, while hundreds of thousands of American engineers remain unemployed.

If we go back to when Clinton left office, one finds that, in five years, the United States has created a net of only 1,054,000 private-sector jobs, while government added 1.1 million. But as many new private sector jobs are not full-time, McMillion reports, “the country ended 2005 with fewer private sector hours worked than it had in January 2001.”

This is an economic triumph?

Had the United States not created the 1.4 million new jobs it did in health care since January 2001, we would have nearly half a million fewer private-sector jobs than when Bush first took the oath.

Ed Rubenstein of ESR Research Economic Consultants looks at the wage and employment figures and discovers why, though the Bush-ites were touting historic progress, 55 percent of the American people in a January poll rated the Bush economy only “fair” or “poor.”

Not only was 2005’s growth of 2 million jobs a gain of only 1.5 percent, anemic compared to the average 3.5 percent at this stage of other recoveries, the big jobs gains are going to immigrants.

Non-Hispanic whites, over 70 percent of the labor force, saw only a 1 percent employment increase in 2005. Hispanics, half of whom are foreign born, saw a 4.7 percent increase. As Hispanics will work for less in hospitals and hospices, and as waiters and waitresses, they are getting the new jobs.

But are not wages rising? Nope. When inflation is factored in, the Economic Policy Institute reports, “real wages fell by 0.5 percent over the last 12 months after falling 0.7 percent the previous 12 months.”

If one looks at labor force participation – what share of the 227 million potential workers in America have jobs – it has fallen since 2002 for whites, blacks and Hispanics alike. Non-Hispanic whites are down to 63.4 percent, but black Americans have fallen to 57.7 percent.

What is going on? Hispanic immigrants are crowding out black Americans in the unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled job market. And millions of our better jobs are being lost to imports and outsourcing.

The affluent free-traders, whose wealth resides in stocks in global companies, are enriching themselves at the expense of their fellow citizens and sacrificing the American worker on the altar of the Global Economy.

None dare call it economic treason.

Posted by: Aldous at February 17, 2006 3:24 AM
Comment #126263

Aldous, they can and will dispute the facts. But to their chagrin, they cannot change them.

Implicit in Buchanan’s analysis, is the fact that we are funding our own future economic slowdown. With the trade deficits comes sending American dollars overseas which hold their value (for now) in exchange for consummables which deteriorate to nothing or obsolescence very quickly. This results in a net transfer of American wealth overseas over time. In addition, the 40+ percent of the service on our national debt which goes to foreign investors and nations, is fueling the growth of their nation’s competitive advantage over the US. It is for all intents and purposes, the US growing the competition against us and our future.

Historically, we invented new things and sold them around the world as well as here at home. That context is diminishing before our very eyes. One need only look to what Japan did to our economy in the areas of electronics and autos from the 1970’s through the 1990’s. Now take that paradigm and apply it to China, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, S. Korea. You are looking at a multiplicative effect that all but eliminates America’s future competitive edge in the global marketplace. For these nations are not just advantaged by lower labor costs, they are supplanting America’s historical virtual monopoly on invention and creativity.

America should listen to that conservative named Pat Buchannan and a number of other fiscal conservatives at the Heritage Foundation and other think tanks who are warning that in the not too distant future, there is a point of no return which we must not cross, if America is to have an economic future appearing anything like its past. Our deficits and debt continue to rush us headlong toward that point.

Posted by: David R. Remer at February 17, 2006 3:56 AM
Comment #126294

>>>Republicans are the last people on earth who could tolerate living in a country with millions of poor people, and yet, they want to continue to create more.

There are about as many poor republicans as democrats. Many poor take responsibility for there lot in life, a major distinction in party affiliation.

Unless wealth provides jobs for income, the poor will get poorer. As long as unskilled labor has so many competing for these jobs, they will not get richer. A skilled worker lives above the poverty level, on average. We must educate our people in critical thinking, something dems fear.

If we attempt to redistribute wealth by taking it, via high taxes or outright socialism, the value of the asset taken decreases or goes to nearly zero instantly because the value is a perception of investors. As a minimum, high taxes take revenues used to produce jobs to grow the corporation. At its worst, the ability of the corporation to earn is killed. This is why Cuba and N K are among the poorest nations on earth. China is getting it right by allowing capitalism. It soon will be a democracy.

Socialists are simply short sighted and ignorant of the way the world works and people interact. Their experiments should be tried on rats first.

John Lagace

Posted by: John Lagace at February 17, 2006 6:39 AM
Comment #126317
Meanwhile, the percentage of the total tax paid by the rich (top 20%) has increased from 56% to 86%. While the lowest 40% pay almost nothing.

Jack, as Dave pointed out, the percentage changed from 56% to 66%. Your numbers are just wrong.

Furthermore, that increase is over the timeframe from 1979 to 2003, not over the course of the Bush presidency, which is the base of your whole argument.

So, let’s throw out all your inaccurate numbers and start from scratch. When you restrict the comparison to the Bush years (which is supposed to be the point of the article), the percentage of AGI earned by the top 25% dropped from 67.15% in 2000 to 64.86% in 2003 and the percentage of the income tax paid by the same group dropped from 84.01% to 83.88% over the same period. (from the IRS)

So, basically, nothing that you claim is accurate.

Good reporting.

Posted by: LawnBoy at February 17, 2006 8:19 AM
Comment #126327
If you want to debate redistribution of wealth, we can. But let’s call it what it is and not pretend that the President’s policies have made the poor poorer or that the tax burden is being shifted to the poor or even the middle class.

No argument on that. The tax burden has not shifted to the poor. It has shifted to future generations.

Posted by: Schwamp at February 17, 2006 8:44 AM
Comment #126330


Sorry about the number. Nothing nefarious, just bad typing that I will fix.

I am not making a normative argument here about the value of rich or poor. We perhaps should debate that.

My point is that in order to solve any problem you first need to properly identify it. If we say that the poor are suffering cuts or that the poor are shouldering a bigger burden of taxes, we are looking at the wrong problem. In fact, we are almost completely misidentifying it.

The question I ask is how much do you think the poor SHOULD contribute? If it is zero, than we have some other issues to sort out.

Beyond all this is the myth that Republicans cut budgets for the poor. Would that was true. I wish Republicans were better at this, but they (we) are as bad or worse than the Dems at giving away money.

This latter point speaks to Ken Cooper’s issue.


There was a good article in WSJ yesterday re why people feel less secure and why there are layoffs. You can read the details, but the summary is that the economy has become more dynamic which means more opportunities and overall more stability, but more volatility in particular firms or industries. There are layoffs, but people are fining new jobs, as the 4.7% unemployment rate suggests. Jobs created are similar to those lost (they are not all at Wal-Mart), nevertheless, people fell less secure. BTW – this also happened during the Clinton times. It is a secular trend.


Poverty is an issue we can talk about, as is the wastefulness of government spending. But we should do this from the basis of accurate information. If we start from the erroneous assumption that the poor are being taxed at a higher rate or that programs for the poor are being cut, we can get to a good conclusion only through random chance.


Nobody has disputed any of my facts, successfully or otherwise. What they have tried to do is shift the argument. I accept that and maybe we can do it in a different thread. All I am saying is that we should start from the basis of facts (the programs for the poor have not been cut and taxes on the poor have dropped).

Also please link. Don’t cut and paste such long things. You will notice that in my post I summarized and linked, didn’t take the easy way.

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2006 9:04 AM
Comment #126340

Ron Brown,

“The thing I have to wounder about is if the Democrats are as intrested in cutting spending and balancing the budget as they claim. Why aint they threating a filibuster over the budget?”

The Senate rules specify that neither a budget bill nor a budget reconciliation bill (to merge the House and Senate versions of a passed budget) can be filibustered.

In fact, that rule is one of the main reasons who so much crap gets packed into “omnibus” spending bills - the 2005 budget (passed halfway into the 2005 fiscal year) was 4000 pages long, and was voted on 24 hours after it was introduced.

If you’re interested in this stuff, budgetary rules are a big reason why the legislative process is so broken. I disagree with d.a.n. on many of his points, but some of his ideas about legislation have a lot of merit.


“My theory has always been that if the rich always vote for Republicans, the last thing the Dems want is for the poor to get rich.”

Which is it, man? Aren’t we “limousine liberals,” “hollywood liberals,” and “coastal elites?” I thought Republicans were good working-class Christians in the heartland, where pregancies occur young and meth is a cash crop.

So now we know that if the poor got rich, they’d just buy homes in Beverly Hills and flood Missouri with the gay agenda. Better to keep them poor.

Posted by: Arr-squared at February 17, 2006 9:31 AM
Comment #126351

The following is why Bush is spending “more” on the poor…there are simply more of them and their numbers continually increase under his “administration”…and now he’s “cutting” the budget by lowering the rate of increase in entitlement programs such as Medicaid at the very time when the people needing such a program are increasing at an even higher rate.

• The estimated number of people without health insurance has increased by 6 million since 2000, rising to 45.8 million, or more than one in seven people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

• The percentage of companies that offer health benefits - the primary source of insurance for people under 65 - fell to 60% last year from 69% in 2000, according to an annual survey by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which does health policy research.

• The number of people who get health insurance through their employer dropped by 3.7 million from 2000 to 2004 while the population increased by 11.6 million.

• The number of people insured through Medicaid and affiliated programs rose to 37.5 million, or 12.9% of the population.

Posted by: Lynne at February 17, 2006 10:03 AM
Comment #126362
Nobody has disputed any of my facts,

Perhaps you were typing when I posted, but I definitely disputed your facts. You claimed that “Under President Bush…the percentage of the total tax paid by the rich (top 20%) has increased from 56% to 66%” when that change happened over the timeframe 1979-2003. That’s a huge discrepancy.

Maybe your overall claim is true, but you can’t support it with the numbers you’re giving.

I understand that 86% was just a typo, so I apologize for being too hard on that. Could you put a note at the bottom of the post noting that there was a typo in the original? Otherwise, people who come to the debate late will think that Dave and I are on crack.

Posted by: LawnBoy at February 17, 2006 10:33 AM
Comment #126374

The Senate rules specify that neither a budget bill nor a budget reconciliation bill (to merge the House and Senate versions of a passed budget) can be filibustered.

Posted by: Arr-squared at February 17, 2006 09:31 AM

Does the House have the same rules concerning budgets?

Posted by: Ron Brown at February 17, 2006 11:25 AM
Comment #126375

Has anyone else heard that the recent budget bill might not be valid? Essentially, there was a clerical error that meant that the House and Senate voted on different bills after the conference committee, so what the President signed was not passed by both houses. According to the Constitution, a bill becomes law only if it is passed by both houses and signed by the President.


Posted by: LawnBoy at February 17, 2006 11:30 AM
Comment #126383


I mentioned in my response to Dave that 66 versus 86 was a typo that I would fix. For the record, I have fixed it and you guys were right about it.

The other point about my using the numbers is also valid, although I disagree. I see how the paragraph follows could led one to believe that all that change came under Bush, but that is not my point (and I did include the link so people can see. Sort of like the President and wiretapping, if I was trying to hide it I would not have included the link.)

The overall point is that the poor are paying less and getting more and that they have not suffered any more under Bush. In fact, as the paragraph under it says, their share of the Federal tax paying has actually become negative.

Re the clerical error. It is exactly that, a clerical error. In the worst case scenario they have to vote again to satisfy the pedants who only bothered to read it after they signed on and who know that it is just a typo.

As you all can see from my writing, I am not a particularly good editor and like most people with this lack of skill, I think the substance is what really counts.

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2006 11:48 AM
Comment #126393

Ron Brown,

“Does the House have the same rules concerning budgets?”

The filibuster does not exist in the House. For a couple of reasons, the House features far more strict rules limiting debate and discussion. As an example, the House Rules committee might specify that a bill can be debated on the floor for 3 hours, and that is exactly how long the debate will last. The Senate has no rules committee, it is a norm of the Senate that any member can speak for as long as she wishes.

That’s what a filibuster essentially is, although the procedure has actually become codified and no longer requires round-the-clock oration, a la “Mister Smith Goes to Washington.” Ending a filibuster in the Senate (a cloture vote) requires 60 votes, which is why a filibuster is such a potent procedural move.

In the House, everything runs by strict majority rule, so a small majority is considerably more powerful than a comparably-sized majority in the Senate.

Posted by: Arr-squared at February 17, 2006 12:02 PM
Comment #126412
In the worst case scenario they have to vote again to satisfy the pedants who only bothered to read it after they signed on and who know that it is just a typo.

For the Republicans, the worst case scenario is worse than you say. Since the the bill was incredibly close-fought (requiring Cheney to break a tie), the Republicans don’t want to risk reopening the debate - they might have to renegotiate parts of it.

I don’t blame the legislators for not rereading the bill after it came back from committee (after all, if only one Senator read the Patriot Act before voting on it, why would we expect anyone to re-check a bill that’s dozens of pages long). However, it seems this may be unprecedented in U.S. history. No one’s sure if this is a serious constitutional issue or if it’s a technical issue that can be resolved by mutual agreement.

Posted by: LawnBoy at February 17, 2006 12:57 PM
Comment #126433
Sort of like the President and wiretapping, if I was trying to hide it I would not have included the link.)

Huh? Does that mean you’re threatening to prosecute the people who pointed it out?

Jack, this trick of pointing out that the spending has gone up, therefore there are no cuts plays well to the stupid, but you and I know that the denominator changes from year to year based on population growth, changes in the economy, and definitions by the government. If the amount of money or services available to the genuinely poor goes down, though, a cut has been made.

Another point. The article carefully avoids the recent budget shenanigans. I wonder why?

Posted by: Mental Wimp at February 17, 2006 1:23 PM
Comment #126439


We are talking aid to the poor in BOTH absolute terms and as a percentage of the total budget. There just are not cuts. AND if we talk about taxes, your point would mean that the poor are even less taxed than it would initially appear.

Again, we can talk about whether the poor should pay no tax or how much they should get from the Feds, but we should start with the factual basis that they already get more than ever and we are not talking about giving anyone less. Maybe we should.

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2006 1:30 PM
Comment #126451


You may have misunderstood my point. It wasn’t the amount relative to the total budget, it was the amount available to an individual poor person. For example, the budget may have increased by 39%, but if the number of individuals increased by 50%, each of them would have experienced an average decrease, a cut, if you will. The numbers cited shed no light on this, and that is usually what we bleeding hearts are talking about when we worry about cuts, not the percent of the budget or the absolute number of dollars.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at February 17, 2006 1:54 PM
Comment #126457





Posted by: Honey P at February 17, 2006 1:59 PM
Comment #126470


We can talk numbers or percentages. Both the numbers and the percentages of poor people have increased since 2000. But they have not increased that much and the proportions are lower than they were in many years when expenditures were lower.

The expenditures in real money and percentages increased in the early 1990s when unemployment was nearly 7%. It increased in the late 1990s when unemployement dropped into the 4%s. It increased again in the early 2000s when it went up to about 6% and it is increasing again when unemplyment is back down into the 4s. It ONLY increases. If it was responsing to numbers of poor, it should have come down during some periods. but it doesn’t.

We have a legitimate debate about the role of government. Poverty spending will ratchet up if left alone. Will that be helpful and is it just?

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2006 2:21 PM
Comment #126474


Please explain your perspective on this:

person A: Makes $15k, has $5k std ded, and pays 20% of the $10k, leaving him $13k net. He pays rent, has a small IRA with $15k and 10% appreciation. He depends on food stamps to eat, the bus to get to work, and medicaid and social services to help with his sick and learning disabled son. Taxes = $2k, 13% of income or 13% of worth. Net worth increased by $1.5k.

person B: Makes $1.005M, has $5k std ded, and pays 30% of the $1M, leaving him $705k net. He has two homes, one on the Vineyard, an IRA, Roth, and $10M in the bank, stocks, funds etc… which appreciated by 20%. He has a private nurse and teachers for his comperably sick son. Taxes = $300k, 30% of income or 3% of worth. Net worth increased by $2000k.

This makes the false assumption that person B didn’t have a tax attorney to reduce his net income to $100k and a tax of $20k. (more real world than this example)

Did person B pay too much in taxes? Does person A get too much benefit for his $5k?

Posted by: Dave at February 17, 2006 2:28 PM
Comment #126513

Jack, your numbers are wrong. In a good way. You UNDERestimate how much the top 20% pays in taxes. They pay in upwards of 80% of the tax burden. Of that, the top 1% pays over 1/3 of the tab. But my post is more about the top 20. It follows something that in value analysis/total quality management/operations management in industrial engineering as the Pareto principle. To explain…the Pareto principle states that the defects of a process in making a product occur intrinsicly. Of all the defects that CAN occur, 80% of the defects come FROM 20% of the problems. Simply put, 20% takes care of 80%. The “defect” in this case is having income taxes, but it follows the principle b/c 20% of the “problems” account for 80% of the defect(s). Enjoy!

Posted by: Robert at February 17, 2006 3:18 PM
Comment #126514

Dave…first problem with your example is that someone making 15k wouldn’t pay taxes at all b/c they get more than the standard deduction and also fall below the allowable level to ever pay taxes.

Posted by: Robert at February 17, 2006 3:20 PM
Comment #126524


a) Jack’s numbers weren’t estimates. They were from a right wing think tank’s link. Where do you get your numbers?
b) $15 pay $0 ?. So what? Make the income $20k. Whatever… The question towards Jack’s perspective is still valid.

Methinks you assign the defects improperly.

Posted by: Dave at February 17, 2006 3:31 PM
Comment #126536


Once again, there is a bottom line. Assume the rich guy hires the best accountant and avoids every bit of tax he can. So what. The bottom line is despite all this the percentage of tax paid by the rich has increased and the percentage paid by the poor has decreased.

I am not saying this result is desirable or not, just that we have to start with this fact as we talk about income redistribution

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2006 3:46 PM
Comment #126558

Learn math from a thesaurus? That would be impressive.

Honey P, I’ll buy a thesaurus if you “BY” a dictionary and a caps lock key. Deal?

Posted by: LawnBoy at February 17, 2006 4:16 PM
Comment #126570


(I’d still like your personal opinion on the question I asked. No spin.)

Have you ever considered that the reason why the percentage of taxes paid by the wealthy has increased is because their income has increased as a percentage of total income? In other words, they paid more of the whole because they made more of the whole.

From 1979 to 1998 the income of
the top 5% increased 64%, after tax increase was 115%
the top 20% increased 38%, after tax increase 43%
the next increased 15%, after tax increase 14%
the next increased 8%, after tax increase 8%
the next increased 3%, after tax increase 1%
the bottom lost -5%, after tax lost -9%.
That after tax incomes are even more exagerated means that taxation disproportionatly effects those in the lower quintiles and that the top 20% pay a lower fraction in terms of gross income than the bottom 80%.

That is the fact of our income redistribution, that is the fact of the bottom line.

The last five years have seen a significant increase in the number of poor in this country.
If you want to believe that their per capita decrease in a share of a slowly increasing pool of services is defensible because the elite few pay more taxes, you will not have my agreement.

Posted by: Dave at February 17, 2006 4:53 PM
Comment #126606


The poor didn’t lose. I would question the deflator they used. I agree that rich or better off just gained faster.

This would be part of the normative debate. Are we interested in opportunity, standard of living, equality etc?

Left and right sometimes talk past each other. Speaking in very general terms (and giving both sides something “good”) the right is interested in opportunity while the left prefers equality.

I have to run off and can’t write more now. I hope do do more later.

Posted by: Jack at February 17, 2006 5:58 PM
Comment #126728

Here are my two cents worth about wages and taxes.My occupation is a Quality control inspector, at one time it was considered a skilled blue collar labor.I have a high school diploma which I received in 1974(Today’s standard that same education is worth at min. a B.A.) I was not career orentated as my number one job was wife and mother and in 1979 I made $8.75 per hour.Health care was deducted out of my paycheck for HMO(Kaiser) $32 a week for five dependants and paid $2.00 prescription, we were allowed to deduct that from our income tax. In 1993 at a different emolyer I was making $11.93 per hour and insurance for three was $76.00 for Blue Cross and it barely covered anything and I could not deduct from my income taxes and we made too much for the earn income credit. I had freinds in the nineties, single mothers on assitance and houseing who got refunds larger than any taxes they paid. Today I make $10 per hour and health insurance for me and my husband for an HMO is $76.00 per week. The out of pocket per visit is $20.00 no matter what they do and prepscritions are what I consider fairly cheap compared to the horror stories the liberals like to toute.This year I also have a tax free health savings account , I mail in my receipts and all of my out of pocket costs.The only problems to this and they are minumal is it is after you put the money out and if you do not use it up in a year, you loose it. Who gets it my HR department has not told me.The turn away is pretty darn fast and what you can use it for is pretty liberal, like glasses frames and lens, mental health, if you have a disbled person that you are responsible for transportation and numerous other things are covered.
I think the reality is really missed by both parties. In Southern California with a very large and disverse immigrant population, the effect on manufacturing wages is profound. That and the ever increasing min. wage I believe dum my downs the wages. I remember once in the seventies when I first started working full time and Ford froze wages and prices and after it was lifted a min wage increase went into effect and I was making five cents above and prior to the freeze had received a 25 cent raise.
The lib s if they realy cared about the working poor , by talking to those folks they would know what happens everytime min wage goes up, only new hires and those making min. wage get more money.
I work in a place where immagrints after ten years only make $8.00 to $9.00. Now don’t feel to bad for them because most of them own homes and most shocking thing I recently learned they do not need to get health insurance from the companies plan for their kids. It is free and if you are a home owner it costs about $200 per year for two children. And it is not social services type but the same as mine in the same HMO and there is no $20 co-payment. And they also get earn income credit. I don’t hold anything against those immigrants because they are getting special mortage rates(although I was shocked to find out even using someone else’s social secruity # mortages are given.) I blame the politicians. The only improvement I have received is the first tax rebate from Bush’s tax cut and the health savings.

Posted by: Patricia Fortier at February 17, 2006 11:20 PM
Comment #126771

What a crock. More cherry picking of a few minor, short-term stats here and there, with total oblivion of the bigger picture.

Care to address any of the following:
[] Tens of thousands of abuses of eminent domain from 1998 to 2002 and who knows how many since 2002. And the Supreme court upheld it.
[] What about Spc. Sean Baker, beaten and brain damaged at Guantanamo Bay ?
[] What about no WMD ?
[] What about unfair taxation ?
[] What about wire-tapping and unlawful search and seizure of citizens without a warrant ?
[] What about ignoring Habeas Corpus ?
[] What about secret prisons ?
[] What about the negligence and incompetence in New Orleans ?
[] What about the USPS stealing mail in my area (5000 people affected); stealing it our of those blue mailboxes ?
[] What about the rampant election fraud and no one held accountable ?
[] What about the refusal of bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians to pass any common-sense reforms ?
[] What about abused presidential pardons, even for felon buddies that pled guilty, like the 140 felons pardoned by Bill Clinton ?
[] What about perverting the laws to do the very thing the laws were originally supposed to prevent ?
[] What about the growing problem of coporations stealing pensions and disability (such as ASARCO) ?
[] Despite warnings about New Orleans, they did nothing. Funds to strenghten the levees was plundered and redirected.
[] Despite warnings about securing cock-pit doors and illegal immigrants movements, they can’t connect the dots or prevent planes from being used as missles.
[] Despite warnings about illegal aliens, and New Mexico and Arizona declaring a state of emergency, and a Dallas policemen (among numerous other victims each year) is shot and killed by and illegal alien 13-Nov-2005.
[] Despite warnings about Social Security, Medicare, and 77 million retiring baby boomers, they continue to plunder (steal) the surpluses that would now keep them solvent. And, to make it worse, they pander to buy votes for a prescription drug plan that will cost several hundreds of billions more per year (and escalating fast, with the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs).
[] Despite warnings about $8.2 trillion National Debt, $32 trillion private debt, huge trade deficits, and more deficits planned for years to come, they keep on spending, borrowing, and printing money more.
[] Despite warnings about pension systems, the PBGC and pensions are $1.6 trillion in the hole.
[] Despite the warnings, they ignore sea port security. In fact, they are selling port operations to foreign nations.
[] Despite warnings, the administration was totally unprepared to enforce order (i.e. to prevent looting and chaos) in Iraq.
[] What about the pork-barrel, graft, and corporate welfare ?
[] What about this outrageous behavior , while our troops risking life and limb?
[] And, despite all of the above, they still feel they deserve special, cu$hy perk$ , and tax-payers get to pick up the bill.

That is why I am voting out incumbents, every election, always, until no more irresponsible incumbents are left. And you should too ! That’s what we were supposed to be doing all along.

Posted by: d.a.n at February 18, 2006 1:04 AM
Comment #126774

Median wages have fallen for 4 consecutive years.
Foreclosures have risen for 13 consecutive months.
Interest rates are rising.
National Debt, Private Debt, and Trade Debt are growing fast.
Nervousness about the debt is growing.
Government has grown by 140,000 jobs in the last few years.
Many pressing problems grow worse as government grows increasingly corrupt, and threaten the future and security of the nation.

Posted by: d.a.n at February 18, 2006 1:12 AM
Comment #126808

r.brown, your name calling comment was junked. Observe our policy or you won’t be allowed to comment here at all. —WatchBlog Managing Editor

Posted by: r.brown at February 18, 2006 2:53 AM
Comment #126900

Ron B writes: “Why aint they threating a filibuster over the budget? They don’t mind doing it over a Supreme Court justice.”

There was a filibuster over a Supreme Court Justice? I must have missed it. Was it in the news or is this just another GOP lie?

Posted by: Boomer at February 18, 2006 8:08 AM
Comment #127030

No, But they sure as hell have threatend to.

Posted by: Ron Brown at February 18, 2006 1:47 PM
Comment #127273

Most of the working poor are on minimum wage…

Mini wage was last increased in which year?

Inflation has been low for several years, but it has increased each of those years.

How can anyone say, with a straight face that the poor are not getting poorer? Their spendable dollars have decreased by the same rate as inflation.

Has anyone checked to see how many poor have fallen into the homeless range? Since there are few figures on this one issue, I’ll challenge anyone to say with any honesty that there are not more poor and that those who are poor are not poorer.

Most of the posts here agree that the rich have gotten richer, and if that is so, unless there is a bottomless pit of money, the poor have had to pay for that by receiving less.

The gap has widened. You don’t have to spout numbers to recognise that.

Posted by: Marysdude at February 19, 2006 1:39 AM
Comment #127274

>>No, But they sure as hell have threatend to.

Posted by: Ron Brown at February 18, 2006 01:47 PM


I think that it is part of politicing. It’s just one segment of compromise. Compromise is politics (or was until Repugs took over the world).

Posted by: Marysdude at February 19, 2006 1:42 AM
Comment #127476

Yeah, a lot of that is Politicing. But it would seem that if the Democrats were all that intrested in balancing the budget as they talk like that there’s enough of them that with the help of the Republicans that side with them on some things, that they could block a deficit budget.

Posted by: Ron Brown at February 19, 2006 3:26 PM
Comment #127545

The middle-class and poor income levels are not getting richer. When they say Americans got richer since 1999, they don’t mean everyone.
The top 10% of the population got richer.
The richer are getting richer”
But, if everyone is getting richer, how did that happen while median wages have fallen for 4 consecutive years. That’s because not every quintile got wealther. You have to look closely at how they word things.
Foreclosures have risen for 13 consecutive months. Not historically high, but not a good sign.
Inflation is rising. Not historically high, but not a good sign.
Interest rates are rising. Not historically high, but not a good sign.
National Debt is rising.
Percentage of Debt to GDP is now up to 67% (up from only 33% in 1980). Not historically high, but getting close to it. The only other time it was higher was WWII. But, we are not in any war that comes close to the scale of WWII.

Ron Brown,
You are right. Neither party is interested in balancing budgets. None of them will be happy until Debt to GDP is 200% . Why should they worry? Politicians all have golden parachutes.

Posted by: d.a.n at February 19, 2006 8:13 PM
Post a comment