9-9-9 in One (Really Long) Graph

October 18th, 2011 at 10:38 pm

In my previous post decrying the extreme redistribution of the tax burden from the wealthy to everyone else, I had to use two graphs to tell the story.  I couldn’t fit the increase in tax liabilities for the bottom 80% on the same graph that includes the over $1 million decrease in tax liability for the top 0.1%.

But my CBPP colleague Brian Highsmith could.  So here you have it: the change in tax liabilities, compared to current tax policy, under 9-9-9, for different income groups, in one incredibly unsettling graph.


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216 comments in reply to "9-9-9 in One (Really Long) Graph"

  1. hilzoy says:

    This is a really wonderful graph.

    • Sean McNaly says:

      Flip it upside down and suddenly you might realize who pays for everything.

      • Jessica says:

        Absolutely. Wow, the people who USE all of the services will actually have to come out of their pockets a little more to pay for all the myriad of things that they so freely enjoy now (on the backs of higher income earners, of course). Imagine that.

        • Kali says:

          Oh, I’m sorry, are you referring to the money those higher income “earners” got by granting themselves huge salaries after taking mega-bank bailout money from the government? Or was it the bonus they got from downsizing the company to save money? Or maybe it was the money they got from the golden parachutes they got after running a company into the ground then leaving it? The sheer ignorance of your statements is enough to cause an aneurysm. They pay a lot because they effectively STOLE that money from the American people. Or perhaps you have already forgotten about the GIANT mortgage fraud thing? On a side note, you may want to notice that YOU will be paying a lot more. You are not the 1%. You aren’t even the top TWENTY percent. Seriously – you need to learn basic math and how to use Google.

          • hblibertarian says:

            All of the bailout money has been paid back with interest. Check your facts before ranting

          • asdf says:



            …about that fact checking

          • asdfasf says:

            hblibertarian –

            Yeah, because paying back bailout money fixed the problem. We gave bailouts without any punishment or regulation. The financial industry learned nothing. If your two-year old behaves badly, you typically correct them or they will continue to act in a similar manner. This is common sense.

            Oh… he robbed his neighbor… BUT WHEN WE CAUGHT HIM, HE PAID IT BACK. Sorry if your arguement does not hold water.

          • modconserve says:

            Does everything think that the 1% were just given a job one day that paid well. These people are the smarter, harder workers who have become successful. They have worked their way up the ladder to achieve success.
            Sure money was made through mortgage scams that the government regulated. The banks were not doing anything illegal, they were following laws. Citi bank did not want to loan to some but the fed gov sued them so they had to. Don’t only blame the banks, also blame congress for the laws they pass.

          • linus bern says:

            “Does everything think that the 1% were just given a job one day that paid well. These people are the smarter, harder workers who have become successful. They have worked their way up the ladder to achieve success.”

            They cratered the economy, their corporations would all be rubble if tax-payers hadn’t bailed them out. They took the money and convinced themselves that they earned it for being so brilliant and then rewarded themselves with big bonuses.

            “The banks were not doing anything illegal”

            Don’t mistake the fact that they avoided criminal prosecution with not doing anything illegal. They gave mortgages to people they knew could not afford them, bundled them together into huge investments that they knew were worthless, paid ratings agencies to call them triple AAA, sold them to suckers, and then bet against them so they would make even more money when they inevitably went south. Its all very well to blame Washington for creating an environment that allowed it to happen, but Wall Street has spent Billions lobbying Washington to create exactly that environment.

          • buenaventura durruti says:

            Don’t forget that, even without the bailout money, all of the wealth that wealthy people have was created by working people.

            You go to work, you create wealth, you get paid a wage, and the difference between the wealth you created and the wage you were paid goes into the pockets of the owners. They didn’t create any wealth. You did.

            And then the wealth that they allowed you to keep, you have to give to their friends when you pay for a dwelling, for food, for clothing, and for medicine.

          • Tim says:

            Kali, they did not steal that money. It was handed to them by OUR elected officials. Get mad at the leadership that allows this to happen and then denies it. No mater how you slice it. Democrats or Republicans all are just as responsible. So what are you going to do about it?

          • C Weeks says:

            1. Housing fiasco began under Clinton when he wanted “everyone” to own a house.
            2. Banks ordered to “lower home loan credit standards” and lend, lend, lend. What in hell happened to 20% down and being credit worthy?
            3. Banks (by the way in business to make a PROFIT) assured by the government not to worry about bad loans that Fannie and Freddie would buy them.
            4. Banks bailed out have paid back the taxholders (with interest) by the way.
            5. Graph shows who is supporting the country and paying almost all of the taxes. Turning the graph upside down is a good idea but you can never reason with socialists who feel “entitled” .
            6. Social engineering NEVER works.
            7. The idiot in the White House has solutions to jobs and deficit reduction but won’t use them because the solutions don’t fit his jackass “plan”. So he robs the taxpayers of billions, borrows trillions, won’t protect his own citizens and lies, lies, lies.

          • fact checker says:


            I don’t see what your point is. The majority of the funds that are outstanding are held by Freddie and Fannie Mac. Those are were under heavy government regulation and government ownership before the bailouts. And that’s from the fact checker you posted.

          • Lori Bonati says:

            Here is my opinion: http://youtu.be/4Kxim1E1SkU I wrote this song 2 years ago … unfortunately, it’s even more timely now.

          • Greg says:

            If ignorance causes aneurysms I hope you have good healthcare.

            While there are certainly some people that made ill gotten gains off of the bank bailouts, it is still largely true that most money in this country is earned.

            By the way the bank bailouts and the mortgage fraud thing were actually the same thing.

          • butch says:


            I agree there are some folks that should probably be proscecuted for what they did. But I want to say there are alot of folks with money that have acquired it the old fashioned way. They worked hard, they saved and invested over a long period of time, they didn’t the latest cell phone or ipad each time they came out and as a result they have money. They are compfortable and secure. They are not greedy, they have done nothing illegal. They followed solid priciples of money and taking care of themselves financially. They should not be penalized for doing the right things.

        • uchusky99 says:

          Really Jessica?

          The wealthy do not benefit at all from things like national security? roads? clean air and water? education? police? fire department? criminal justice? medical research?

          Only the poor and middle class benefit from these things-right?

          How about TARP-who benefited from that? The poor?

          • Dan says:

            Well PT Barnum said it best. A lot of people are born suckers. Let me be the first to congratulate their grandchildren on the PhD’s in History of RubberMaid and Advanced Must See TV after education is completely privatized.

          • Billy says:

            UCHUSKY, So by your argument the rich should pay more in taxes because they share the basic civil services. To this logic wouldn’t that mean those who pay no taxes shouldn’t have a fire truck roll up to their house because they haven’t paid into the system… I mean if the rich guys is paying so much just for these civil services shouldn’t the poor guy at least pay something.
            The Bail out is a moot point and has no bearing on this argument. The rich have been over taxed and under stated for a long time prior to bail outs (that were a complete joke). 9-9-9 may not be the answer but I believe it’s a step in the correct direction. It’s a system where 100% of the populous in taxed including all illegal immigrants, 44mill foreign tourist yearly, and all ill begotten incomes i.e criminal action.

        • Tom says:

          That’s our fee for not killing them and taking their money.

          Too harsh? Not really. That’s life.

          • Will says:

            Hey Tom,

            They have that kind of government in Somalia. It’s doing real well I hear.

          • asdfasf says:

            Hey Will… you have it backwards. The rich warlords are the ones running the show in Somalia. You know, rich and powerful robbing the poor of their food. Sheesh. Do you even watch the news or even think about how moronic your statement was?

          • henry says:

            no, tom’s right:

            all government is for is protecting people and their stuff, broadly-interpreted.

            the rich have more to protect, so they should pay more for that protection, and the notion that this is a linear relationship (as cain suggests) is an interesting but unsubstantiated notion at best. i mean, why wouldn’t it be, i don’t know, exponential?

          • BBC781 says:

            So kill the rich, take their money & give it to those who did nothing to earnit…right?

            Our country has more people riding on the cart than pulling it. Those pulling it don’t feel those riding are worth it. Most really aren’t.

            Honestly, if the government taxes the rich at 100% it still won’t cover their spending.

            For about the last 12 years, Washington has spent us into oblivion and convinced Americans it’s OK to be stupid, work at a minimum wage just as your main goal, and take free handouts because it’s “owed” to you.

            Nobody owes you nothing, the rich are wealthy because they earned it, and America will continue to decline as long as they think “Big Daddy” government will provide.

            Its these people that are selling their soul & giving this country away.

        • ChairmanLMAO says:

          Typically stupid response from a right-winger.

          Nobody gets rich in a vacuum. Considering these people effectively stole so much wealth from our nation, the amount of taxes they pay now is paltry.

          We should be outright confiscating their ill-gotten gains, mainly earned by shipping American jobs to the third world, and rigging a casino on Wall St.

          It’s always nice to see right-wingers defending their criminal overlords, though. Really warms the heart.

          • Greg says:

            “ill-gotten gains, mainly earned by shipping American jobs to the third world, and rigging a casino on Wall St.”

            Prove it.

            By the way if I start a company to make harmonicas and I buy the parts from a company in India am I “shipping American jobs to the third world” or am I creating jobs for the people I hire here? If people really like my harmonicas and buy a ton of them should my profits be confiscated and given to…you?

            You free money for everyone socialists like to pretend that the banks are the American economy ignoring hundred of successful enterprises started and run by people that are smarter and work harder and take bigger risks than you can imagine…and basically fund your existence along the way by accident.

        • Allen says:

          Jessica, you’re right. The economic deck in this country is stacked in favor of the 50% of the people who own only 2.5% of the nation’s wealth. They’ve got it so easy.

          The above is sarcasm, in case you didn’t realize it.

          By the way, do people who make a lot of money not use government services? Do they travel on roads? Are they protected by police and firefighters?

          • Ryan says:

            “By the way, do people who make a lot of money not use government services? Do they travel on roads? Are they protected by police and firefighters?”

            Private helicopters and jets don’t need roads. So no they don’t use those.

          • Dan says:

            Yes, and they pay taxes, too

          • Greg says:

            Do people who make a lot of money use enough more government services to justify paying 10X+ more for them?

        • Erin says:

          I’m sorry, I still haven’t received my free services. Who should I talk to about that?

          • JP says:

            You should speak to the people built the interstate highway system. You should speak to the people who keep the planes from crashing into each other. The people whose job it is to make sure you aren’t poisoned by your local friendly corporation. The people who defend your country. The people who educate your kids. The people who built the Internet initially. The people who regulate things like nuclear reactors (remember Chernobyl?) and chemical plants (remember Bhopal?). The people who come into your state after storms and disasters and help clean up. The people that keep your individual freedoms from being swallowed by the majority’s whim. If you use a TV or a GPS or a cell phone, the people who make it possible for those to work. So that would be the DOD, the DOT, the FAA, the FDA, the DOD again, the EPA, the Dept of Education, the DOD again, FEMA, and the judicial branch. That’s just off the top of my head.

        • C Weeks says:

          BRAVO! The direction this country is going is terrifying and sad.

        • Dismayed says:

          Yeah. Don’t tax the job creators. They’ve created millions of new jobs – in China!

      • Louis says:

        Well, it’s probably everyone below the top .01, because there are TEN THOUSAND TIMES more of them. That chart is per person, not total as a class.

      • Colin says:

        Read a little bit of what the Founding Fathers wrote and you might figure out who suggested that idea.

        “I am conscious that an equal division of property is impracticable. But the consequences of this enormous inequality producing so much misery to the bulk of mankind, legislators cannot invent too many devices for subdividing property, only taking care to let their subdivisions go hand in hand with the natural affections of the human mind. Another means of silently lessening the inequality of property is to exempt all from taxation below a certain point, and to tax the higher portions of property in geometrical progression as they rise. Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labor and live on.” Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, October 28,1785. ME 19:17, Papers 8:682

      • Sandwichman says:

        Pays? You mean pays himself, don’t you? Like Lloyd Blankfein who rakes in the equivalent of the median annual income every 15 minutes? As Lemony Snicket points out:

        If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard, just as if you are tall with long hair it doesn’t mean you would be a midget if you were bald.

        Nobody earns $33,000 every 15 minutes, every minute of the day and every day of the year. But CEOs take that much. Take does not equal earn.

        • ccol says:

          A CEO is *given* that much because that is what he/she is considered to be worth to the company.

          • JeT says:

            I’m sure it’s nice to be able to decide for yourself how much you’re worth to the company.

            “You know what, I bet my leadership is worth 200 times more to the company than my average employee. I must be right, since I’m the one making the decision.”

          • C Weeks says:

            To the company and the investors. Which by the way can include unions, retirement and pension funds, bond funds which build roads etc. etc.

          • Eric says:

            That’s fine that they earn that much because people think they’re worth that much. I wouldn’t argue that for a second.

            I just think that if 25% of my earnings goes to taxes, then 25% of theirs should too. How is that unfair?

          • Kevin says:

            “I just think that if 25% of my earnings goes to taxes, then 25% of theirs should too. How is that unfair?”

            You’re right, that’s completely fair, thats what a flat tax is, and thats what the 999 plan proposes, just rather than 25% its 9%, making things even better. Broadening the tax base is always key. Right now 47% of Americans pay no income tax. Yeah the top 1% is taking home about 24% of the total income in america, but they are also paying 40% of the taxes and in case anyone’s living under a rock, the current plan isnt working. Our current 7500+ page tax code is penalizing success and growth, and rewarding failure. It’s clear that reform is necessary. We have to broaden the tax base. We have to allow businesses to grow, because taxing them heavily causes jobs to be cut and or moved to another country.

          • Dismayed says:

            No – CEOs are paid exorbitant sums because they appoint their cronies to sit on the boards of their corporations.

      • quinndiesel says:

        There really is no point to arguing with libertarians. They invent their own facts, and continue to reuse the same tired shite that’s been flatly debunked for years. It’s like debating young earth creationists. They make shit up, use nonsequitirs, move the goal posts. It’s really just tiring.

      • Mr. Tibbs says:

        Actually, they don’t pay for everything; it’s silly to suggest so. And this graph doesn’t speak to that question anyway.

      • Martin says:

        Yes, and during slavery, plantation owners paid “for everything,” too. I don’t suppose you think that their confiscation of all wealth in exchange for their grudging material support of their slave laborers was a fair division, do you? Or should I presume that you would have also dismissed abolitionists as class warriors?

      • OrthodoxAtheist says:

        You were almost right. Flip it upside down, add a further 10-30% on to the red bars, and then you’ll see where the country’s annual income goes. They are supposed to pay the most, because they take the most. As it happens, they don’t pay the most… the middle do. Learn some tax law.

  2. azlib says:

    But to conservatives this tax plan is fair, since they believe everyone should pay the same amount in taxes regardless of their wealth. I am convinced Herman Cain really believes that. I just hope he keeps pushing his plan. There is no starker image than this chart as to what conservatives really believe.

    It is also a reminder that the Republican Party has completely gone off the rails when it comes to having any sort of reasoned policy debate.

    • Kate says:

      Agreed. I look at the bottom 20% and remember the year I was poor (being a smart, white, college-educated person, I was fortunate, and have had to date only one year under the poverty level — others do not have my advantages). I could not possibly have afforded any additional tax burden. As it was, I could not make ends meet. That’s what it means to be poor. You don’t have enough to meet your basic needs. In what way is it fair to burden the poor with a tax increase when they already cannot make ends meet? It is beyond me how people can think it is fair to expect people who do not have enough (the poor), people who have JUST enough and no more (the lower middle class), people who TONS (the top 1%) and the folks in between to all pay the same tax rate. Is the idea to make the folks who are struggling fall further behind?

      • EmptySession says:

        “That’s what it means to be poor. You don’t have enough to meet your basic needs. In what way is it fair to burden the poor with a tax increase when they already cannot make ends meet?”

        I think part of the issue that gets overlooked is that many of these people who “cannot make ends meet” seem to be prioritizing irresponsibly. I cannot accept not being able to make the payment on rental rims for a financed late-model SUV as not being able to make ends meet. Wealthy people are often wealthy because they don’t behave like they are. Conversely, poor people stay poor trying to appear like they aren’t.

        Our government doesn’t decide on which items individuals can spend their money. Therefore, it cannot decide which people should be exempt from taxation without allowing and encouraging abuse of the system.

        Conservatives aren’t against helping people who need it. STOP SAYING THAT. It isn’t true. Conservatives are against helping people who don’t deserve (read actually *need*) help, people who won’t help themselves, people who abuse the system.

        9-9-9 is ONE answer to the problem. Is it the best? I dunno. Many of us cannot even figure out exactly what the problem is.

        Partisan rhetoric is an obstacle we must all overcome first if we intend to find the BEST solution.

        • C Weeks says:

          OMG. I have been a conservative all my life ( a long time!). I started a small business because I couldn’t find a job that would pay my bills. I worked 7 days a week for 18 years and am now retired comfortably. Not rich, comfortable. Everyone who worked for me got paid fairly for their contribution. If they didn’t think about the future or improving on their financial status while they had money coming in, that is not my responsibility. I can tell you that the lowest paid people had the least duties and contributed the least.

          I don’t consider that I got “rich off the effort of others”.

          I took the CHANCE to go in business. I “lived poor” and worked and saved and gave jobs to others. I paid my taxes every year along with taxes for others.

          Now liberals say they are “entitled” to take more of what I have earned because I got ahead at their expense! BULL. Workers get paid for the work they do. THAT is their compensation. If they are not being compensated fairly (in their opinion) they can shop around and see if they can do better somewhere else. When I hired someone I hired them. I didn’t adopt them to raise for the rest of their lives.

          I am glad I will be dead so I won’t see these “entitled people” destroy this last free country or hear their wails when Atlas shrugs.

        • Jeremy says:

          Sure. I’ve met system-abusive poor people.
          Thing is, the percentage of the rich who are gaming the system for their own ends is just as high as the percentage of the poor who are doing so. Both sets of system-abusers, rich and poor, do damage to our economy.
          But the rich ones are wielding better weapons.

          The rich got where they are by being better, yes? Exponential taxation means someone stays super-rich only so long as they continue to be better – a LOT better – than other people at making money.
          But they should be. We all agree, I think, that someone should only be super-rich if they’re really good at earning money. Meanwhile, it means people in the middle class can stay there without becoming poor with relative ease, and that poor people aren’t shoved into the mud by the government that’s ostensibly trying to help them up.
          Best of all, it means people who cheat their way to the top have a really hard time staying wealthy, because they have to keep earning a ton.

  3. Sandwichman says:

    Hey, man. Like you used up all my red pixels for that graph! Where am I going to get more red pixels at this time of night?

  4. ihsanamin says:

    As I scrolled down, I heard a voice go “WHEEEEEEEEEE!”
    It was the tiny little man inside me that desires ludicrous wealth.

    He needs to STFU and think about others.

  5. Chico Escuela says:

    Rasing taxes on 80% of Americans ?

    Only a Republican could propose that.

    • loveactuary says:

      the width of the bars here is misleading, even though the values are likely accurate. You are in some small way “equating” the number of people in the bottom quintiles with the top 1% and top 0.1%.

      Otherwise a very striking result. Does this fly in the face of Buffet’s assertion that many of his ilk (top 0.1%) are not paying their fare share? If they were not already, how could their taxes decrease by so much??

      • Henk says:

        They pay so much because the HAVE so much. 400 people own more then 150,000,000, don’t you think that someone with that gargantuan amount of wealth would be paying quite a bit in taxes, not as much as the 150,000,000 they own more than, not enough, but quite a bit.

      • Nate says:

        It is because the graph of actual incomes is even more insanely skewed.

    • BBC781 says:

      Recent history shows Republicans are against raising taxes. Democrats are for it. Look at the Obama’s Health care reform. If you don’ think that raised YOUR TAXES…look again. All the regulations our government is putting on companies, they are causing US to pay more.

      You & I have to cut what we spend according to what we bring in. Not our government, they just tax us more and feed a line to the stupid that the rich are to blame.

      Stupid people believe anything because the majority have something they want to believe and are too lazy to check things out for themselves to find out whaen they are being lied to. When any politician says he’s there to help and is going to save you money, look out…it’s going to cost ALOT more sometime from someone.

    • C Weeks says:

      Allowing 93% to pay no taxes could only be though up by progressive liberals and Greeks.

  6. Trinity says:


  7. Michael says:

    It looks like somebody is drilling for oil (snake oil, that is). Thank you for shedding light on 9-9-9.

  8. David Richardson says:

    Even this graph understates the degree of upward redistribution as it suggests that the top 20% would see tax cuts. If you take out the top .1% from the top 1% you see for most of the very rich the tax cut is less than half the 238,000 because 60% goes to the extremely very rich. Among the top 20% the effect is even more striking. Take out the top 1% and the rest of the top quintile only see a $2500 average tax break, Given how skewed this is to higher incomes I expect all of that is concentrated in the top 2-3% and at least 95% of households would experience a tax increase.

  9. motionview says:

    It is deceptive to only compare explicit tax liability. Cain argues that the dramatic reduction in embedded taxes in the price of goods will more than offset the increase in explicit taxes for the lower 80% income levels. David Gregory didn’t get this either.

    • it's supply AND demand says:

      the price of goods is not only a function of cost, but also what people are willing to pay. I see no reason to think that the bulk of retailers would suddenly lower prices and forgo their new found profit, in fact there is many evidence to support the opposite.

      • motionview says:

        The goods the poor buy are sold on a razor thin profit margin because of extreme competitive pressure. That competitive pressure and the quest for market share will ensure that as the embedded taxes are removed, prices go down.

        • Johnnymac says:

          What goods the poor buy? Like food, clothing (thats what goodwill is for or Wal-Mart?) Until you’ve been poor, STFU.

          • johndburger says:

            ??? Nobody’s allowed to post who hasn’t been poor? OK, I’ve been poor.

            The point is that there is some support from economics for the proposition that everything will get cheaper, especially the things you mention, like clothing and food.

        • the crowbar of logic says:

          As someone who works in retail I can tell you that your statement is bullshit. Retail markup is usually somewhere between 50% and 100%. Thosearent razor thin profit margins. If your overhead is that high (which most places it isn’t) you need to cut costs to be profitable. Law of retail is that if in selling a product you don’t make a healthy profit by those guidelines you ned to stop selling that product. Prices will likely stay the same because of greed.

        • capsfan78 says:

          The “poor” as you call them consume a great deal of fast food. Do you have any idea what the markup is on that? Not the razor thin margins you speak of.

    • matt says:

      dummy, replacing a corporate tax on profit with a 9% VAT won’t reduce embedded tax.

    • Red says:

      Uhh, last I checked, a 9% sales tax would increasethe costs of most things poor and middle class people buy.

      And if there was a national sales tax most states would probably eliminate their state and local sales taxes (California already has an 8% tax). To replace that revenue they would probably increase income or property taxes.

      • linus bern says:

        Except Cain isn’t proposing the federal sales tax would replace the state sales tax, you would pay both, i.e in California, 17% sales tax. This is extraordinarily regressive, because someone living paycheck to pay check will effectively be paying 17% tax on everything they earn on top of the 9% income tax and whatever local taxes they still have to pay.

  10. perplexed says:

    Ahhh, the benefits of technology on display again. Good thing we have HTML, we never could have printed a chart like that in a standard size newspaper.

    Looking at all these charts though, keeps us from seeing the real effectiveness of plans like 9-9-9, The Ryan Plan, and Reagan’s Supply Side Economics. The charts and numbers don’t show how ridiculous red herrings like these fill our national discourse with silliness thereby displacing discussions of more pertinent questions; like how is it that our government failed so miserably in its role to redistribute “arbitrary and inequitable distributions of wealth and income” (Keynes) that capitalism results in? They don’t explain the role of progressive taxation in accomplishing these goals. Like a barbituate that fills nerve receptors and prevents them from being effected by neurotransmitters, our national discourse is paralyzed by being injected with these “drugs;” and our media “pushers” do love their “drugs.”

    Maybe its time to “say no to drugs” (as another Reagan put it) and redirect the discussion to point out the role these destructive tax policies of the last thirty years have played in decimating the middle class, precluding infrastructure investment and constraining the overall growth of our country.

    These “barbituates’ have been so effective that we get people like Steven Rattner writing articles about globalization’s losers and the decline of real median household incomes without ever mentioning the role of our tax policies in this destruction. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/16/opinion/sunday/lets-admit-it-globalization-has-losers.html?_r=1&emc=eta1
    Rattner would have us believe that: “While there are many culprits, from declining unionization to the changing mix of needed skills, globalization has had the greatest impact,” as if globalization and “changing mix of needed skills” were new phenomenon that hadn’t really existed for centuries; and no one seems to question this logic. So we’re to believe that we’re just inevitably stuck as “losers” in this global race to the bottom until we’re bailed out by solutions i.e. “providing visas to entrepreneurs.”

    If marginal tax rates of the wealthy increased as wealth and income concentration increased this “globalization” that destroyed the middle class and impoverished many would likely cure itself quite quickly. We need to find a way to tie the acquisition and maintenance of enormous amounts of wealth to the success of our country as whole and not let it continue unimpeded to the detriment of the country.

  11. Leo says:

    Hi Jared, is this chart showing only the income tax comparison or does it factor in the consumption tax? Feels like income tax only, yes? Not even sure the data exists to calculate how much each group consumes multiplied by 9% incremental federal tax. Thoughts?

  12. the buckaroo says:

    …same type of chart results when SF Chronicle did Raygun’s deficit spending as seen in the Wed., February 27, 1985 issue at F1.

    The point was the same as now…he racked up nearly half of all debt from George Washington on. The article goes on…to the surprise of many economists, the US so far has sidestepped the worst consequences of deficits-climbing interest rates and the economic slowdown they bring. Business is gaining from the stimulus of Washington’s free-spending ways.

    Seems that the tax cuts of the Raygun era wiped out our trade surplus by mid ’84 & by the end of ’85 we became the biggest debtor in the world…bigger that Mexico, Brazil or any other contender for that dubious crown.

    I concur with Delong’s sentiment…Republicans should wither up & blow away. That includes the tea-vangelicals.

  13. JohnJay60 says:

    This needs to be converted to percentages, to answer the “Warren Buffet” question. It would be less dramatic but more effective, I think, since Cain is speaking in percentage terms, too.

    • Cameron says:

      I was going to propose this same thing. The tax hike on the middle groups here may well be close to 150% of what they are paying now, but the reduction on the top 20% may be much less in terms of a percentage.

      i.e. One may pay %1 million less in taxes, but if that person is already paying $50 million it’s only a 2% break.
      However, if one is already paying $4k in taxes, an extra $4k is a 100% increase.

  14. Whitestone says:

    Alright the chart is cute if you simply want to illustrate the plan from an income tax perspective. As you well know if you have read Cain’s plan, it’s focus is on consumption. The more you consume, the more your tax burden. Your chart makes no reference to the consumption aspect, therefore it is by nature deceptive.

    • jynnan_tonnyx says:


      Good point. In addition to redistributing the income tax burden from the wealthy to the working classes, Cain’s plan also includes a disincentive for the sort of consumer spending that drives our economy.

      Was this meant to be a point in favor of Cain’s plan?

      • Zee Tee says:

        >Cain’s plan also includes a disincentive for the sort of consumer spending that drives our economy.

        Basing an economy seems to been a bad idea – it has proven to be effective only at encouraging people to consume more than they produce and run up unserviceable debts.

        How about we try policies that encourage sustainable levels of consumption, thereby building up capital, not continuously depleting it.

    • Matthew says:

      Also, the poorer you are, the more of your money you need to spend for subsistence. If you have millions, you don’t really need to spend a high percentage of it.

    • linus bern says:

      And since the poor, who live paycheck to paycheck, spend their entire income in a month, they will pay the consumption tax on 100% of their income, while the extraordinarily rich who will only spend a fraction of their monthly income, (and often not even in the US) will only pay the consumption tax on a fragment of their income.

    • C Weeks says:

      Precisely correct. Good job.

  15. cjmr says:

    I’d prefer it if he’d tease out the ‘1%’ from the ‘top 20%’ figure.

  16. Eric says:

    Does this include the removal of the 7.6/15.3% Social Security+Medicare tax? Seems like maybe it doesn’t. Half is paid by businesses, half by the employees.

    One would expect for wages to rise or unemployment to fall without that most regressive tax.

    • bill says:

      The Cain plan makes employee wages non-deductible – instead of paying 7.2% in payroll tax (the employer share), they’ll pay 9% on their wages. It actually increases the employer’s share of the payroll tax, which puts downward pressure on wages.

  17. Bryon says:

    is this based on the 9% is lowering corporate income tax (taking us from the second highest in the world)and this would jump start hiring, so those who arn’t paying anything right now would suddenly have a job and would actually have to pay 9%? I guess i can accept that! Great plan!

  18. Southern Beale says:

    I’m getting really tired of repeating this but can we pretty please stop pretending that Herman Cain is a real presidential candidate? He cribbed “9-9-9” from Sim City, for crying out loud! His campaign bought $100,000 worth of his own book! If this isn’t absolutely the biggest con job ever, I don’t know what is. Can’t believe anyone is taking this seriously.

  19. ameriman says:

    But…but… last month liberals were SCREAMING that ‘the rich’ weren’t paying ANY or only token TAXES far below others….

    Now, liberals are SCREAMING that ‘the rich’ paying 27% will dramatically reduce their tax burden….

    Liberals can’t keep their lies straight…

    “Words, facts, history means nothing to liberals. Liberals say whatever they believe will help advance their cause at the moment, switch talking points in a heartbeat, and then act indignant if anyone uses the exact same argument they were using five minutes ago.” — Ann Coulter

    • Nathan says:

      The rich pay for a huge portion of the government. However, our income inequality (Using the GINI 10% coeffient) is greater than that of at least 81 other countries, and our poverty rate is now above 15% (NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/14/us/14census.html?pagewanted=all ). The top marginal tax rate has fallen considerably since the late 1940’s (Tax Policy Center: http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=213 ), so it’s not like this will be a wholly new concept.

      I do understand that the highest earners support the government. But I also believe that they, more than the rest of the country, can afford to support it more. For an earner in the bottom quintile (most of whom are below the poverty line), an additional 1% of income tax could mean not being able to afford food, housing, or medicine. For someone in the top percentile, an additional 1% of income tax could mean not being able to by another private jet. Although the sheer numbers that the rich pay are the greatest, the amount of real sacrifice they must make are the least.

    • wja69 says:

      You actually don’t understand the tax or the graph at all do you? Because it is a consumption tax, it is 27% for poor and middle class families that spend their entire paychecks every month just to get by. 9+9+9 = 27. They get hit with the entire thing. Rich people don’t spend their entire incomes. They don’t have to. The effective tax rate therefore lessens dramatically the richer you are. That’s the whole freaking point of the graph. How much of his $100 million income does Warren Buffett spend every month to provide for him and his family? Even if he lives extravagantly, it’s somewhere around .001 of his income (give or take). Buffet’s tax rate is therefore 9.001%. We know that Buffett is paying roughly 17% right now (he’s said this). So he gets an almost 50% tax cut out of this deal. Strange that you’re talking about lies and quoting haters like Ann Coulter when you have no idea what you’re talking about…

      • C Weeks says:

        Warren Buffett may have 100 million in wealth but not in personal yearly taxable income. He draws a salary of 100K a year.

        Should he be made to pay on what he has (and has already paid income tax on) as well as what he personally has on his 1040 or is paying once enough for you?

        Why do so many hate the wealth creators but want the wealth?

        • Pseudonym says:

          Salary is not the same as income. Not even close. What kind of moronic alleged “business owner” doesn’t know that? Warren Buffet’s adjusted gross income was approximately $62.9 million last year, according to a google search that took five seconds. But I’m sure a brilliant hard-working wealth creator like you had better things to do than get some basic facts straight.

    • TiredofBS says:

      Was willing to listen to your arguments, even if you used locked caps. Then saw the quote by Ann Coulter. Can’t take anyone seriously who actually quotes Coulter.

    • PG says:

      Liberals have been screaming because the rich haven’t been paying ANY taxes, or just a token rate, thanks to loopholes (which only the very rich can access) and ever-lower tax rates for the wealthy.

      So, yes, a tax rate of 27% is LOWER than a tax rate of 33% (Duh!), which is why liberals are protesting it.

      Love showing how Ann Colutler-loving conservatives have neither the facts nor a coherent argument….

  20. Josh says:

    This is great, but it would be better if you made the increase in liabilities (for low-income individuals) red, and the decrease in liabilities green. In its current form, the colors imply that 9-9-9 would be bad for the wealthy.

  21. sam says:

    I like this graph. I am interested in what the different percentages mean, income wise.

    EX: the first 20% make $$- $$ amount of money, etc.

  22. Cary Bennett says:

    Also, in an interview on CNN, Mr. Cain, when asked if the addition of the national sales tax on top of existing state and local taxes wouldn’t increase costs for the middle and lower class, his answer was “I can’t answer that. It depends on whether they purchase “New Goods” or Used Goods”.” So, what he is really saying is, the additional 9% cost of goods will mean that the rest of us (the 99%) will see an increase in the cost of goods unless we shop at thrift stores and food banks. Only the 1% are good enough to buy “New” goods. We now see what kind of America he wants. A third world country with a wealthy ruling elite. Well, as far as I am concerned, he can go live in Somalia if that is what he wants. Just go away and let us have our democracy back.

  23. Ivan Johnson says:

    Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:
    The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
    The fifth would pay $1.
    The sixth would pay $3.
    The seventh would pay $7.
    The eighth would pay $12.
    The ninth would pay $18.
    The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.
    So, that’s what they decided to do.
    The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. “Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.” Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.
    The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’ They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. And so:
    The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
    The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
    The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
    The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
    The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
    The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).
    Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.
    “I only got a dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,” but he got $10!”
    “Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I!”
    “That’s true!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!”
    “Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”
    The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
    The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!
    And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

    • Sean Gillhoolley says:

      Your analogy is missing a few points. For one, the guy “footing the bill” is the real owner of the bar, not the chump pouring pints. The beer is just the vehicle to test out new drugs, to see how they affect humans. Hidden observers watch the beer drinkers to accumulate marketing information, which is then sold to other bars. The bill is actually written off the owners taxes as Capital Investment, pushing the costs off onto the taxpayers. I think just about brings us to where we are, not the fantasy some people think we live in.

      • Ivan Johnson says:

        “I think just about brings us to where we are, not the fantasy some people think we live in.”

        Well, your view is definitely the fantasy.

        …a footnote:

        After the tenth guy leaves, the tavern owner, who had cut the price of beers with the theory that such cuts would encourage the group to grow or get other groups to frequent his tavern, has been running his business on his line of credit since he didn’t make cuts in costs to offset the discount, is told the bank is calling his line of credit. He tells the group that the cost of beers will now be $150, and that the beer will be watered down 50%. The group can no longer drink and the tavern goes out of business, bought out by a Chinese/India/Africa restaurant that now serves one type of Asian/Indian/African beer.

      • All for a "flat tax rate"... fair share says:

        Love it!!! I’m not wealthy, but I do believe that everyone should pay their fair share. I don’t think it is fair that someone who pays very little or NO taxes gets several thousand or more “back” in the Spring. If you pay no taxes, you should not get any back, and I don’t care how many kids you have!

        • PG says:

          If you want “everyone to pay their fair share” then you do NOT want a flat tax rate. It simply isn’t equivalent for someone, who is barely at a median income level, to pay the same percentage as someone who has a fantastic amount of wealth that goes untaxed, or taxed at a much lower level, simply because it isn’t “income”. As this chart ably demonstrates, a flat tax is grossly unfair to the bottom 80%.

          And if it’s never been made clear to you, civilized societies got that way with much higher tax rates on the rich.

      • C Weeks says:

        Sooooooooooo, if we eliminate all tax deductions for everyone the beer analogy is fair to even liberals, right?

    • perplexed says:

      “Aaah, the American Dream! You gotta be asleep to believe it!” – George Carlin

    • mysticdog says:

      That was a lot of work for a really dumb argument, but then I’m sure it was cut-and-paste from some stupid chain letter.

      First of all, your analogy only considers income tax; in reality, every worker pays a significant portion of their income into payroll taxes, property teaxes, and sales taxes; with payroll and sales taxes costing almost nothing for the wealthiest guy’s income, from a percentage stand point.

      Secondly, your analogy is stupid because it makes the same point everyone is making; the ultra rich guy is taking so much of the money that the other 9 guys can’t even afford beer. If you want to make the argument that everyone not in the top 10% shouldn’t be able to afford beer, you go for it. It should win you lots of votes.

      As always, if you want everyone to pay income tax, the solution is simple… pay everyone enough that they can afford to pay income tax. When everyone is getting a living wage, then they can pay it. When you pay people so little that they can’t afford to live without government assistance, then collecting income tax from them is stupid and inefficient.

    • Nibi says:

      The tenth man is an incurable drunk. He knows he he’ll just get beat up again at the bar across the pond unless he goes to a skeevy dive, so after a bit of petulant whining and moping he’ll show up tomorrow night for a beer and pitch in a bit more.

      • C Weeks says:

        Or he’ll have his beer delivered to his huge mansion and invite intelligent people to drink with him which is what he should have done to begin with.

    • Lou J says:

      Excellent Summary of the logic missing most discussions on tax payments and reductions.

      Another view would be to test your thoughts on ticket scalping – many states will not allow you to pay $100 for a ticket and then resell it for $400. YET the same stats and people thing nothing of charging $0 to half of the people for government services while larger earners must pay 250% more for the same services. Do you agree with Government Price Scalping?

    • Zach says:

      I’m not sure about you Ivan, but if it comes down to the difference between say 500 million and 400 million, I still don’t see anyone turning down 400mil (or as you put it, no longer showing up).

    • blurider says:

      @ Ivan,

      A little like Cain’9-9-9 your analogy assumes that we don’t know nor care that much less than 40% pay no income taxes, nor do we realize that they pay a much higher percentage of their income in lots of other taxes.

      Like Cain’s 9-9-9 plan your analogy is cute, clever and deceptive.

      Nice of you to go to all that trouble to retype and re-tell that tale for our amusement tho!

    • blurider says:

      OH! and Ivan,
      We may be able to have a fair tax code when the middle class is no longer browbeaten by the rich and their T’Party hangers-on, into fearing that the rich are going to take their ball and go home.

      • C Weeks says:

        No. We are going to take our ball, go home and put all our money in a box and say “we’re poor so we’re ENTITLED TOO”.

    • Justin Proffitt says:

      I would simply like to preface this by saying that I wrote up a long measured response to this analogy, and the page refreshed right as I was getting ready to submit, so I am slightly vexed. I will be concise.

      The analogy doesn’t address the reliance of the lower eight on the investment of the upper two, some of whom are in some kind of twisted race to accumulate the most wealth. People are having trouble finding jobs while corporations are having no trouble making money, yet the latter is still actively meticulously hoarding instead of investing, penny pinching to the cent.

      Money sitting around does nothing, absolutely nothing. Our basic infrastructure is crumbling and people still fight each other tooth and nail for any kind of job to provide for themselves. We are seeing no end to this, it all seems to be approaching some new low on a steady ride to a singularity of failure.

      How does this help us. How. It just makes their game easier, everyone else’s survival harder.

    • dsimon says:

      Too bad this analogy, which has been floating around for years, is so flawed. Do people at the lower end of the income scale drink the same “beer” as those at the top? Do they have the same public schools, the same garbage services, etc.? To pretend that they do is a fantasy.

      And “drinking beer” conflates services with, well work. Those at the lowest end already get a subsidy, the Earned Income Tax Credit, which essentially pays them for working instead of being on welfare. That’s not the same as being “paid to drink beer,” and so those on the lower end would be eligible for some of that $3.33 even though they aren’t currently paying anything.

      Finally, no one is talking about beating up the tenth guy. I’ve heard this fear over and over again, and it just hasn’t happened at the federal or state level, or anywhere among our peer nations that have progressive taxation. What has happened is that federal income tax rates on top earners have been declining over the past 15 years while they account for more and more of the nation’s income. So yes, there should be fears of class warfare; and recently, it’s that tenth guy who has been winning. I don’t see why it’s even remotely controversial to ask him to pay what he did under, say Clinton, especially if the future of the bar is at risk.

    • linus bern says:

      Except in the real world the ten men go to the bar, the richest one drinks ninety percent of the beer and then whines that the others are parasites for not splitting the tab evenly.

    • Laughing Vergil says:

      I’ve seen this analogy before – it messes up the math pretty badly….

      Originally, it was based on the amounts paid by the various deciles of American income vs tax rates at the time it was created (thus, the odd distribution of amounts paid – this should be recalculated based on current statistics).

      Then, instead of reducing the “effective” tax rate, which would create a different value set, the calculation gave even dollar rebates by rounding down for everyone other than the top payer, then *incorrectly* rounding up on the top payer (to reach $80, the top payer by this method would have to pay $50: 0 + 2 + 5 + 9 + 14 = 30, 80 – 30 = 50). In the real world, this should be handled by decreasing the tax rate.

      Based on ACTUAL MATH, the people would pay…

      The fifth would pay $0.80.
      The sixth would pay $2.40.
      The seventh would pay $5.60.
      The eighth would pay $9.60.
      The ninth would pay $14.40.
      The tenth man (the richest) would pay $47.20.

      This would be an across-the-board, equitable rate cut. Each net rate is cut by 20% of the rate, so a tax rate of 10% becomes 8%, and a tax cut of 40% becomes 32%. Using real numbers, you could then try to make your case.

      Of course, 9-9-9 would do no such thing. it doesn’t adjust the rates proportionally, so those earning more have their taxes cut, and those earning less have their taxes raised. So bringing this flawed example to this discussion is about as relevant as talking about the cost of Turkey versus Kangaroo Ears would be to the discussion.

    • Pseudonym says:

      Now let’s say they drink their beer the way we apportion our wealth. The man at the top gets to drink 70% of the beer, while the four people at the bottom get to share the 1% that he “trickles down” on them.

  24. What Happened… | Jared Bernstein | On the Economy says:

    […] I stumbled on the figure below re Reagan’s tax record at around the same time we got the TPC score of the Cain 9-9-9 tax […]

  25. TQTGA says:

    Uh-oh. Now I’ve found something to worry about. I’ve been thinking that our complex tax code, which admittedly has some deductions that help middle class and low-income people (EITC, mortgage interest), is so very large and complex because it contains a myriad of loopholes for corporations and fatcats–loopholes that our Congress was bribed to create. I thought that these rich CEOs and hedge fund managers with their dividends and options and capital gains and carried interest were doing very, very well for themselves under the existing system. My comfortable assumption was that if they saw a simple, cheat-proof flat tax on its way, they would just call the congress critters they own and tell them to vote against it. But after seeing this chart, a reconsideration haunts me. All of these rich captains of industry, just about every senator, and most congressmen earn in the top 20%. If they can find ways to protect the corporations from taking a hit under the 9-9-9 tax (I don’t see how GE could pay less than they did last year) and the flat tax benefits them, personally, then the captains and the congressmen might be very much in favor of 9-9-9. A case of soak the not-rich, if you will. If the rich and powerful, who already own Congress, can rig a system that is very positive for them and is also positive for the congress critters, then the only remaining element they need is a media campaign devised and propagated by the rich media moguls to fool the middle and lower-income masses into mistakenly believing it would also be positive for them. After all, who do the rabble take economic advice from now? Bernstein and Krugman and Baker or Fox News and Fox Business and Limbaugh?

  26. Hector says:

    How many economists does it take to figure out a log scale?

  27. Kowala says:

    101.1% all your arguments are void…no wonder 1% has all the money

  28. Ed Fish says:

    I had a rich, fat-assed teabag employer tell me that bar analogy one time, thinking he was very clever. He fired me once he (accidentally) found out my views were not in line with his. They just need to justify using up more space than everybody else.

  29. LukeOZ says:

    That’s right, folks, until November 2012, you too can get a 9 topping pizza with 9 breadsticks for only 9 bucks.

    That’s the only 9-9-9 Cain’s gonna be dealing. It’s about the only one that makes fiscal sense too.

  30. D. Rashaan Gilmore says:

    I think you guys have got it all wrong. The Pizza Man read the card upside down. It’s really the 6-6-6 plan! A “Satan sandwich” for sure. #HungryMuch

  31. Steven Place says:

    I’m going to have to be the grumpy statistician here.

    Your x-axis represents a percentage of the population. You claim the Y-axis is related to the change of a number relative to the percentage of a population.

    So why isn’t the y-axis on a logarithmic scale?

    This isn’t about political bias, nor is it about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) with a potential economic policy.

    It just seems like bad math in general, and that the data is biased to reflect a particular outcome. This is amplified by the fact that the X axis is in a logarithmic scale.

    • 0bServant says:

      The x-scale has two separate components; the left-hand section is linear, by quintile; the right-side is indeed log. That’s what the dashed grey line means.

      Even on a log scale, the top earners are getting a TAX CUT, not an increase.

      If you’re that good at math, here’s my suggestion: do your logarithmic graph, but as a curve generated from data points at every 1% of the populace. You’ll still see what looks for all the world like a classic asymptote.

      To really see a full picture, you could overlay a second curve showing income by percentage of populace. Or you could use holdings of accrued wealth, which is similarly unequal.

  32. Heath Oates says:

    Good riddance, upper 1%. AS far as I’m concerned, the rich can take their toys and go home if they want to. Mr. Johnson: That was an entertaining story for most of the way. Except for the lie about ten different social strata drinking at the same bar. That would never happen. And without a bar, you don’t have an analogy.

  33. Rico says:

    This is the greatest country in the world in terms of opportunity. There are apparently some folks who do not wish make use of those opportunities. We all make choices in life. Choose to learn, choose to apply yourself, choose to work hard.You will succeed. Some choose otherwise. Like it or not, there are bad consequences for bad choices. Apparently there are some who believe that those who have made good choices with their lives, should be penalized and pay for those who have made bad choices.

    I guess we should all teach our children to have a good time, have fun and live for the moment.. responsible folks will pick up the tab later..

    • Brian says:

      Are you actually arguing for a regressive tax structure? Because that’s what this is.

      What you are saying is generally true, but not when taken to an extreme. We are currently living in that extreme, and Cain’s plan would make it much, much worse.

      We weren’t always like this. The 35 years after world war II were the most prosperous in our history for the middle class and tax rates on the rich were far higher. Once Reagan took over and framed the discussion for the next 30 years, middle class wages stagnated while productivity almost doubled.

      We essentially live in a banana republic in which the middle class, the driver of growth, has been squeezed for all its worth.

    • DW says:

      Rico, for every five children who have fallen into poverty since 2000, more than three fell into “extreme poverty,” a term describing families living at less than one-half of the poverty level.

      By all means, enlighten us as to the choice they made.

      Your response above is so condescending and betrays such crushing ignorance of the realities facing those Americans born into poverty that honestly it barely registers as civilized discourse.

    • Justin Proffitt says:

      People who work hard do not always reap benefits and “succeed”. This annoying little factor that no one likes to acknowledge, known as luck, plays a massive role in our outcome. The idea is that the people who have “made” it should pay a little bit to help ensure people who get dealt a bad hand the first time, or the second, still have a chance to “make” it, and pay their share in turn. However currently the sentiment floating around is that everyone should fend for themselves, period. This does not help society, because whether or not we like it we still depend heavily on each other, and pulling the rug out from everyone else just makes the future dimmer for everyone.

      It is incredibly infuriating, but it basically boils down to the toxic effect of “I’ve got mine” ideology.

    • Butch says:

      And, of course, if you believe that everyone who succeeds does so because they CHOSE to do so, and everyone who fails does so because they CHOSE to fail, you have no reason whatsoever to support the poor, the needy, or the hungry. They chose to be that way.

      If you regard ANY reduction of ANY of your belongings as a penalty, then there’s no reason you should support any taxes,or any charity, either (there’s no reason to be charitable, right, because any one less fortunate than you CHOSE to be that way?).

      Of course, some morons believe that humans should contribute to a basic social network for everyone (or have some ‘crazy’ idea about a God-given mandate to love others). These are probably the same people who CHOSE to be poor, I suppose.

    • nominalize says:

      Actually, this *isn’t* the greatest country in the world based on opportunities. We’ve been passed by Canada and most of Western Europe, for two simple reasons— affordable college and a healthy financial sector. The single greatest predictor of wealth in this country? How wealthy your parents are. And that’s not just the 1%— that’s everyone.

      We’ve believed people like Rico, who promised that if we just cut taxes on the rich and cut regulations, the wealth will trickle down to us. It won’t, and now we realize it. They’ll just say we’re suckers. But suckers can fight back, and this is how we start.

      The young generation saw their parents work themselves to the bone, believing people like Rico… only to “earn” a downsizing when the CEO felt like raising the stock price a bump. Kicked to the curb like yesterday’s garbage. Or we saw them train their foreign replacements. Or we saw them take a new “opportunity” at the local coffee shop since every other company in their industry was downsizing, too.

      People like Rico want us to feel guilty for getting the shaft. But what people like Rico don’t (want to) realize, is that hard work doesn’t guarantee shit, and it doesn’t entitle you to shit. Hell, just look at any minor league baseball club— it’s full of hard workers that didn’t make it.

      People like Rico think this is all just a big game pitting us against each other., and that if we lost, tough. But there’s no shame in losing a rigged game, and there’s no reason why we should stop unrigging it. There’s no reason, even, why we should make it a cooperative game instead.

    • Daria Rizzi says:

      if opportunity were equal for all, why aren’t there more poor, black kids at Harvard? This argument is ridiculous. There is no upward mobility for the poor who have no means to get to the top…no matter how hard they work. And those who do have the means and the opportunity go into business, make more money for business, effect policy,and never look back at the poor. They can’t even relate to the poor, and now they’re/you’re whining about the poor being lazy and lacking the personal resources necessary to excel. Obviously you miss the point entirely and have a pro 1% outlook. To the real point, WHERE ARE THE JOBS CREATED BY THE 1% “job creators.”

      • C Weeks says:

        I knew a young man who was exiled with his whole family from Poland. They eventually ended up in America. The father who had been a high level professor at a college ended up teaching in an elementary school. They were poor. All three kids worked and kicked in for the family. They taught themselves English and the young man eventually won a four year scholarship to Harvard from which he graduated in only four years (imagine that). Why is it that work ethic is non-existent in young persons in America? Is it possible they feel they are “victims” who are “entitled” to receive? This family was grateful to be in America. They were excited to have a chance to become successful.

        Education and hard work was they key. Education is free. Libraries are free. That has not changed.

        • geeceegee says:

          First of all, an elementary school teacher being poor is pretty damn depressing: A good argument for living wages if I ever saw one. Have you seen what those people deal with? You want to see hard working? Take a look there. Hard working, and their salaries are crappy. And please, don’t give me your anecdote about some crappy teacher you had. It’s insulting.

          Second, education is not free, nor are libraries: They are subsidized by taxes. Cut taxes, and you end up cutting such services. That nice family from Poland, hard working and all, would have no chance without a system that gives them a chance. That system is crumbling in the United States in a really mean-spirited way, where those who can afford to help those at the bottom, hard-working or not, prefer to blame them for their difficulties. As a country based on supposed Christian values (and I’m no Christian), I find the hypocrisy startling.

  34. I_like_food says:

    Does this chart only reflect changes in income tax? What about sales tax? And what about Cain’s claim that getting rid of the current tax system will lower taxes on business so much that it will drive prices of goods and services down? I’m thinking that this chart, as bold as it is (and sort of humorous), is not an accurate representation of the full scope of the plan. Full disclosure – I am at this point neither for nor against this plan. I am, however, for any discussion involving changing the current system.

    • nominalize says:

      Something tells me that lowering taxes won’t bring prices down… what is that something? oh yeah, history.

  35. Kaye says:

    Has anyone here considered the fact that the wealthy are, typically, also large contributors to various charities, schools, churches, community programs, etc? Many of these types of programs are designed to help those less fortunate. If the wealthy are now taxed in order to support the poor, how much money will they have left to support communitites? And have you considered that taxing the “rich” does not just mean millionaires? I know lots of people who work their butts off 6 or 7 days a week to earn the money they make. So now, just because they’ve worked and studied so hard to make a good living, they should support those who live off medicare, unemployment, or other supplemental programs?? I can also name a few who like it that way and don’t care to even try to get a job. That’s crap. If you want stuff handed to you go earn it.

    • nominalize says:

      I know lots of people who work their butts off 6 or 7 days a week to earn the money they make. Like the ladies who watch my kid at daycare among twenty other snot-nosed brats. And they’re STILL on food stamps.

      I also know lots of people who don’t bother getting a job… because their trust fund enables them to live easily without one.

      Fact is, if you’re rich because your employees are poor, it doesn’t matter how hard you work, you haven’t earned it. If rich employers had been paying their employees decent wages the last thirty years, their communities wouldn’t need so much support. I guess it’s convenient to forget that.

      Besides, I bet most millionaires would stop giving to charities if we stopped handing out tax breaks for it.

    • Daria Rizzi says:

      there’s an awful lot of Fox propoganda pablum sucking going on here. For God’s sake, how many poor people do you know that deliberately work the system in their favor. Get serious! Asking the wealthy to pay a fair share isn’t encouraging fraudulent behavior. In fact, take a good look at who commits the fraud…it’s the wealthy and connected who know how to work the system. Look at your darling Michelle Bachman, farm subsidies, foster parenting subsidies, bilking Medicaid for her “therapy” clinic….and now running for POTUS? She didn’t exactly pull herself up by her bootstraps…she had contacts and knowledge to work the system in her favor. Look at Congress, why do they get healthcare for life? Who are they, are they the poor and disconnected? No. Are they honest and hard working, do they postpone vacations, take mass transit, and work overtime. NO. I’d say these are the entitled and the scammers of the system, not the poor who maybe receive assistance just to survive. This attitude is the antithesis of Christianity…and oh btw, charitable contributions are tax deductible. Can you say loophole?

  36. WillTheyEatTheRich says:

    You are worried about each other’s twisting of numbers and how you can be more clever than one another in re-twisting them. The barbarians are at the gates. They want jobs and justice. I doubt you can calm them with redefining those words, clever tricks using numbers, or by telling them that they are wrong and lazy. The barbarians are at the gates. Take a moment and imagine them with pitchforks and torches or other devices mined from the internet. You cannot have them all arrested, it will provoke them. You cannot legislate them all away, it will take too much time. The barbarians are at the gates. Fewer and fewer defend the gates knowing that the barbarians are there. I pray that we avoid the lesson of Rome.

  37. John says:

    I dont get it


  38. nominalize says:

    For 30 years, conservatives have promised us that if we cut taxes (on the rich, especially), and cut regulations, that wealth would trickle down from the rich to the rest. That it’d be a rising tide that would lift all boats.

    Americans now realize that the rich broke their promise, and never meant to keep it. Since the early 80’s, their wealth has exploded, which would be great, except that for the rest of us, it hasn’t. In fact, we’re even poorer now, dollar for dollar.

    Now, the 1% say “Ha! fooled you, losers!”, like this is all a game. And now, the Republicans don’t even bother pretending that helping the rich will help us, too.

    We don’t hate the 1% for being rich. We hate them for getting rich at our expense. We hate them for taking us for suckers. We put our trust and our wealth in their hands and they took it. Now we will take them back.

    • C Weeks says:

      You are not entitled to what I have earned. You have been paid for your service. The union has protected your rate, your healthcare and your retirement. Now you want more. Enough is enough.

  39. Dave says:

    The only reason the lower incomes would be paying more is because THEY DON’T PAY ANY NOW!!! Providing government services to those that don’t pay any taxes is what is causing the burden on our economy. How about, if we give you a pass on taxes, you pony up with some SIGNIFICANT community service to offset that burden?

    • Colin says:

      they already have a larger burden than any rich person just trying to keep their fridge stocked.


      do you understand the concept of percentages, and the idea that relativity plays a huge role here? if i earn $30,000 a year, my life kind of sucks. if the government takes 9% of that, i have 27300, and my life sucks even more. small amounts of money taken from or given to people with already-small amounts of money make big differences in their lives. i spend a lot of my budget on things i need, or else i starve. hope i dont have kids too!

      if i earn 300,000 a year, i dont have those same stresses of poverty (stresses which youll have trouble recognizing unless youve been poor or are good at empathizing which, unfortunately, many conservatives are not). at 9%, i get 273000. i can maybe buy a cheaper ferrari. and i can put the rest in some stock which might earn me 8% a year, making up for a decent portion of what i lost from taxes; i can let my money work for me as i sit at home and do nothing. i’ll probably “earn” from interest a good fraction of some poor guy’s annual 30,000 income. my life isnt much affected by the tax at all. i can still do everything i want.

      get it?

      • chg says:

        I get it, but conservatives never will. It’s impossible to teach someone compassion for people at this stage of the game. If you didn’t learn it as a child, you never will. They fundamentally don’t feel sorry for people that have nothing, so all we can do is hope they all go broke and rot in hell.

  40. Robert Pollack says:

    I’m a bit late on this, but this chart is completely misleading. One should be plotting the *percentage* change of tax liability as opposed to just the change in tax liability. For instance, imagine a scenario where the proposed tax change was a flat percentage increase in tax liability over all incomes. Your chart would then have small blue bars on the left growing larger as one moves to the right eventually spiking to a huge blue bar on the 0.1% column. Should we then conclude that a flat increase is disproportionately unfair to the rich??

    Imagine an even more extreme scenario: increase taxes on the bottom 20% by say 50%, and slowly decrease the tax increase as incomes rise to say a 10% increase on the top 0.1%. Your chart would then have it seem that the vast majority of the tax burden is falling on the top 0.1% simply because 10% of their salaries is vastly larger than 50% of the salaries of the poor!

    This is a chart with one axis labeled in apples and the other in oranges.

    Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t disagree with essentially point you are trying to make, but this chart just doesn’t make it…

    • Robert Pollack says:

      Said another way: can you imagine *any* change to the tax code that when graphed this way would not yield a 0.1% column which is either an enormously long red line pointing down or an enormously long blue line pointing up???

  41. Cause I'm the Taxman says:

    So what this graph is saying is that the top 20% are paying so much in taxes that if they go down to 9%, they will pay far less taxes than the enormous amount they pay now…

    and the bottom 80% are paying so few taxes today that if they were brought up to 9% they would pay somewhat more than they do now.

    I’d like to see the overall amount of taxes paid now and under the proposed 9-9-9 system. Would the country’s tax revenue actually go up so we can pay down our deficit?

    Who is responsible for paying for keeping our roads maintained and our schools in operation – the millions of everyday folks who drive their millions of cars and bring millions of kids into the school system, or the comparatively minuscule number of top .1% who drive a minuscule number of cars and bring a minuscule number of children into the school system? Those who use the most of something should pay the most to maintain it. That’s why toll roads work better than freeways.

    • linus bern says:

      If you own a major corporation that distributes goods, then you are using considerably more infrastructure than an individual who uses the road to travel to work and back.

      • C Weeks says:

        That is ok because I paid more for the roads and continue to pay and pay and pay while you take and take and take.

        • Daria Rizzi says:

          @C Week….please explain how you paid more for the services you use?

        • bob says:

          You know what? You’re right. I’m so sorry. I HAVE been leeching off the system. Let me just go get rid of that $20 I spend on cable every month so I can pay for my roads properly… oh wait, sorry. That’s not for cable. That’s for food so I don’t die.

    • Chigliakus says:

      It’s painful to wade through all the ignorance on display in this comments thread. I just wanted to quickly respond to this guy since he seems to think that federal income taxes pay for roads and schools. While we do have a progressive (although insufficiently so) income tax in this country, and it does pay for things like the interstate highway system. Which by the way is heavily relied upon for the transport of goods as well as people, and is hugely beneficial to all of society, the rich included.

      Most taxes are regressive, and hit the poor the hardest since they are least able to afford things like the fuel tax, where they need the gas to be able to drive to work. Guess what that fuel tax is used for? Let me quote Wikipedia “In the United States, the fuel tax receipts are often dedicated or hypothecated to transportation projects so that the fuel tax is considered by many a user fee.” Did you get that? People, including the poor folks you hate so much are paying for the roads they’re using.

      As far as schools go, have you heard of an ISD? That’s an independent school district and it is generally local to a particular city. The funds for the district come from state and local taxes, mainly from property taxes. Wait you say, the poor don’t usually own homes, they rent! Well, do you think their landlord takes a loss on the property taxes he pays? Nope, he passes the costs along to his renters.

      Please think before you hit “Submit Comment.”

      • Melissa says:

        Thank you for stating this. There are too many people who think that renters do not pay property tax. Some complexes are actually showing their residents how much of their rent goes to property taxes.

        The land owners pass the property taxes onto the residents and most likely do not pay any from their own pockets.

    • C Weeks says:


  42. Upbeat99 says:

    Ohhh shame, shame, characterizing “fair” taxation as “wealth redistribution”. Everyone knows that “wealth redistribution” is a socialist term only to be used when the wealth goes downward, not upward. Upward wealth movement preferably should not be discussed at all. If it is necessary to discuss it, it should be called “shift-backs” to indicate that it was their money to begin with and is now simply shifting back to them. Shift-backs are not implicitly derogatory. It’s kinda like “entitlement”, middle class should not feel “entitled” to the money they paid in, wealthy do not have “entitlements”, that’s derogatory and anti-capitalistic.

    I don’t make these rules. They just exist.

    • C Weeks says:

      So you want a system where one pays according to their ability and one receives according to their needs? Wonder what system that is?

  43. Guairdean says:

    Great graph, would it be possible to add the earnings for each level? Saying they’re the bottom 20% is great, but it would have more impact if the tax increase were directly related to their earnings.

  44. Kathy says:

    Color cues are wrong. The blue bars on the left — the ones that are above the baseline, should be red …. because red implies “you gotta pay this” or “it’s money you don’t have.”

    The bars that are red? They should be green because this is money you will be “saving”. So should the one “downward” blue bar.

    And if you don’t want to use red and green (there are good reason for not using this color combo) … then use your red and blue scheme but flip them (except for the one “downward” blue bar.

    Why not show the data based on percent increase/decrease in current tax burden, based on average tax burden for each quintile/percent? Percent increase in taxes may be more important on the two bottom quintiles than the actual dollar amount.

    Also, need to explain how the “top 20%” number can be so low, relatively speaking, than the top 1%.

  45. pianoguy says:

    Brad DeLong reposted this, and a commenter wondered what the top 20% bar would look like without the top 1% – so it really compared 99% with 1 percent. Just eyeballing it, the top 1% make it look like the top 20% are getting a much better deal under 9-9-9 than they really would be.

  46. pianoguy says:

    That’s what I get for posting without thinking … simple arithmetic gives the second 19% a tax decrease of $2,654. Based on the bars to either side, this suggests that most of the second 19% would see a tax increase, with the gains concentrated in the last percentile or two.

  47. Fred Donaldson says:

    The stupid conclusion that if someone inherits a fortune they are somehow a producer for society, when all they do is spend money on themself, is the kind of nonsense uneducated Americans believe.

    If you win the Lottery you aren’t smart, you’re lucky.

    • ccol says:

      And when you spend your inherited $$ you are automatically helping someone else in some manner…the company you purchase from, the employers that the company is paying, the manufacturers that produce the product that was sold….circle of life.

    • C Weeks says:

      Lucky or smart it is still your money. And if you inherit it it is because some poor sap paid taxes all his life and then paid taxes again on the same money when he died. Like they say “death and taxes”.

  48. Soquel Creek says:

    Interesting chart. However, you also need to show the current distribution of income taxes. The following chart shows the average income tax paid by income category. The IRS data is organized slightly differently, but you get the point. Those in the bottom 50% paid an average of about $400 in federal income tax in 2008. Those in the top 0.1% paid an average of $1,357,143 in federal income tax. The average for all taxpayers was about $7,374.

    This chart shows the effective tax rate by income category for 1998 to 2008.

    This chart shows the ratio of the share of taxes paid versus share of total income by income category for 2001 to 2008.

    My data sources and data sets are all from public sources. Feel free to download and check it for yourself.

    You might also find these two posts interesting.

    Is Warren Buffett Paying His “Fair Share”

    And, because California already implements the so-called “Buffett Test”, there’s this post. Bear in mind, despite that 33% of the taxpaying population pays 94% of Personal Income Taxes (PIT), the state still has significant budget problems. Income-progressive taxation is NOT the solution to an overspending problem.

    Who Pays Their “Fair Share” in California

  49. Billy says:

    I love how Clinton passed laws De-regulating Wall Street and allowing paperless loans for low income families (that got us in our real estate debacle). Bush signed a Bail-out for 260mill when there are only 130mill US tax payers who file yearly. Obama pushed a healthcare bill that will cost 3mill per US citizen the first 10 years alone.
    Yet we have idiots protesting wall street and arguing that the rich are our problem. Since when do we villianize those who work everyday yet victimize those who don’t contribute to the system at all. The simple fact is that we live in our own bubble and some of us are afraid they’ll be popped. Most of you liberal tools voted for change you never saw, but now you’re afraid of what true change looks like…

  50. Mr z says:

    I do not begrudge those who got wealthy by taking risks with their own time and effort,
    like Steve jobs. But nowadays most of the wealthy are CEOs, hired hands who pay each other monstrous salaries, and hedge fund managers who take risk with other people’s money. Higher taxes on the wealthy, though a good start, do not address these core problems.

  51. JoeJoe At Trader Joe's says:

    The rich have a ton of assets(agreed). I probably won’t ever have a yacht or a house at the seashore. HOWEVER, we all need skin in the game. The poor need to pay something. I was raised in a trailer, by young parents, and life sucked. THAT WAS MY MOTIVATION for doing better and getting a good education. If we continue to do for people what they could (AND SHOULD) do for themselves they will NEVER rise up and become productive. WHY.SHOULD.THEY?

    • VikingRN says:

      You received from the commons:
      1. a public education paid by the taxpayers
      2. Had safe food and water
      3. Police/fire services
      4. Access to a public library

      The definition of poor means insufficient resources to meet basic human needs.

      They do have skin in the game. They pay ss, medicare, sales, property and other taxes. Most of these are first dollar taxes which by definition are collected without regard for ability to pay.
      The real isue is how do we reduce barriers to achievement? If there aren’t living wage jobs availsble how can peoplepull themselves up? I don’t buy the pain motivation theory.

    • Brian says:

      So basically what you’re saying is that the easier we make it for underprivileged people to get opportunities to lead meaningful, productive lives the less likely they are to take them, and conversely the harder we make it for poor people to make something out of their lives, the more likely they are to be motivated and actually go out there and be productive.

      According to your argument, what exactly is motivating me, an upper middle class college student who has had pretty much all my basic privileges and advantages handed to me, to be productive and to try to improve my life? Shouldn’t I simply slack off and do the bare minimum considering I’ve never really had to work that hard for anything?

      See how quickly your core arguments fall apart when you apply them to real world logic.

  52. Mojo says:

    “Obama pushed a healthcare bill that will cost 3mill per US citizen the first 10 years alone.” Wouldn’t that be $10,500,000,000,000,000?

  53. DA Masters says:

    I will easily take the break for the top 20%. Maybe it will pay for the college costs for my kids b/c there doesn’t seem federal or other programs to help at all for the higher middle income group. About 10 years of that break may just about cover it – so my children can grow up and become full-fledged taxpayers like their parents.

  54. VikingRN says:

    I think hat gets lost is the very real subsidies that businesses receive through the tax code. The writeoffs shield income from taxation which is translated into accrued wealth that if it is ever taxed will be at a much lower rate than ordinary income. These writeoffs are a loan from the taxpayers which should be repaid.

  55. Cheryl says:

    As long as we have average Americans believing that the 1% deserve their tax breaks and tax havens, and that we should not regulate banks and Wall Street, we will continue our downward spiral. Heaven help us

  56. Nick says:

    I was curious what this chart would look like if instead of using dollars for its unit it used the tax liability as percent of household income. I had free time so I went ahead and made it. Source on household income comes from a 2007 CBO report. http://i.imgur.com/U6DwT.jpg

  57. Wayne says:

    The only reason the banks paid back their bailout money so super-rapidly and with a pittance of interest was so that they could get out from under the watchful eyes of the government officials charged with keeping up with the banks’ activities. Once they paid the bailout money back, the banks were in the position to resume the same activities that caused the financial meltdown, and their obscene bonuses could resume unabated.

  58. Nerdrage717 says:

    What people need to keep in mind is that most people’s largest expense is their rent/mortgage which (atleast to my knowledge) would not be subject to the 9% sales tax. So, working in a bank, I know that most peoples debt to income is around 20-45%. This means that 20-45% of their income would not be subject to the 9% sales tax.

    I have put a lot of thought into a flat tax because I am always one who believes things should be “fair”. And I have come to the conclusion that I would support a flat tax if, in addition, there were a income ceiling. In the spirit of being fair I feel that this is a grand solution, I believe that everyone paying the same rate in taxes IS FAIR, at the same time I can not support a system that allows people to make X Billion dollars a year.

    • C Weeks says:

      ALLOWS THEM TO MAKE? Who exactly decides this rule?

      • Nerdrage717 says:

        If you read the statement in context it is clearly in reference to the fact that there is currently not an income cap. FDR instituted a 100% tax bracket and I am proposing the same.

  59. MilitaryIntelligence says:

    Do people really believe the poor are the only benefactors of government spending? The largest percentage of the federal budget is set aside for the department of defense, roughly 25% of all spending. welfare programs make up 9%, The 1% have you convinced the government is wasting money investing in the poor which in the grand scheme of things are everyone not in the top 1%, I exist in this demographic and do not receive government assistance, The corporations to whom most of the top 1 percent are benefactors do. The very poor do. I do not. There is nothing fair about taxes. The bottom 99% of income earners spend 95% or more of their income. subjecting their earnings not only to the income tax but to local taxes and property taxes federal energy taxes, tobacco taxes taxes on communications etc. The the average American is paying taxes on a per dollar amount at a rate comparable to those higher tax brackets when all taxation is considered. The average one percenter spends only 70% of his or her income AFTER taxes the rest is put into savings or investments. Meaning this demographic is actually subjecting less than half of their income to taxes on purchases. This is why a 999 tax is an unfair tax on the poor. This is also why bigger picture this is a bad deal for the economy. Taking money away from people who spend more retail (the foundation of our economy) is crazy. Tax savings for the rich are nothing more than additional liquid currency for bankers and stock brokers to gamble with. It’s not money going into the economy, which is what we (should) want.

  60. carl says:

    The whole point of this graph is point out that the rich are NOT paying for everything! They pay right now a LOWER tax rate than the middle class – on top of which the “benefits” are not welfare or pensions, but basic things like defense, roads, etc., which the rich use as much or more. The rich are NOT paying their fair share, have no burdens, and Cain wants to give them MOPRE breaks. Conservatives have been so brainwashed.

  61. Christopher Borra says:

    I’m printing this up to size, laminating it, and going to show people. I wonder how many feet…

  62. messup says:

    Seems as if there are two choices before We The People:
    1) Leave things as they are
    2) Try to change things from what they currently are, to something better.

    1) Leave things the way they are. Capital will continue to flow to places in the world having cheaper:land, labor and capital.
    a. USA will continue to spiral downward because lack of:land, labor and capital (in the USA). These 3 factors alone will account for companies moving overseas. Therefore, goods and services in the USA, will automatically be priced higher than existing US wages, causing a downward economic trend over the long haul. In this scenario, unemployment could go as high as 25% or more,i.e., too many unemployed americans chasing too few jobs.

    2) Try to change things from what they currently are, to something better.
    a. This article starts from the premise that successful companies are products of “excess wealth, therefore involved in theft.” This being the case, then We The People should all have the bare minimum. However, in this modern corrupt society (USA) with over 300million people, there’s always going to be theft. So, if someone is going to steal, why shouldn’t I? So on and so forth.
    This is New Marxian philosophy taught in US universities today and
    present in OWS.

    This article is symptomatic of these teachings. If every so-called “rich american” were taxed the maximum, only $1.5 trillion dollars MAX would be added to federal coffers…not even a meager dent in US Federal spending. If every so-called “rich american’s” assets, private holdings, property etc. were confiscated by the IRS it might add another $1.75 trillion to Federal coffers. A long ways from solving Americas problem. Besides, this confiscatory philosophy being illegal, so-called “rich americans” would now be poor…worsening already high USA unemployment figures.

    Solution: More Americans need to have more “skin” in the “game.” This will only happen by broadening the tax base with a “Flat/Fair Tax.”

  63. Ronda says:

    I’ve read gobs of these posts, and I wonder if you folks who want rich people to be “punished” for having the audacity to make something of their lives AND work themselves into early graves understand the concept of PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. Nobody owes you ANYTHING. YOU owe this country for the millions of people who have risked EVERYTHING to build it.

    So JoeSchmo made $80 million dollars in his lifetime. What business is that of YOURS? The last I heard a man’s income is HIS business, and whether he works to earn it or was BORN into it, it’s STILL his business, NOT YOURS. I wonder where you get off thinking you’re entitled to what he makes, OR this country is entitled to STEAL from him, so that you can sit on your behind and let him support you. The government PROVIDED the tax code to be USED by every citizen. Loopholes? SURE I’d take advantage of them if I were rich. You don’t like it? FIX THEM, but don’t blame the rich man for using what is LEGALLY allowed to lower his taxes.

    This ENTIRE issue is about JEALOUSY!!! You weren’t smart enough, educated enough, tough enough, or MOTIVATED enough to change your life and take a CHANCE on building wealth. You’re AFRAID of competition, because you can’t compete, so you want the rich man’s money to make you feel better. Get outta here.

    • hlang says:

      Let me deconstruct where you’re wrong.

      “I’ve read gobs of these posts, and I wonder if you folks who want rich people to be “punished” for having the audacity to make something of their lives AND work themselves into early graves understand the concept of PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. Nobody owes you ANYTHING.”

      Oh, so people that aren’t millionaires aren’t hard workers? They’re all lazy huh? They are alone in working themselves into graves?


      “The lawsuit notes that workers – most immigrants who speak little English and have less than a high school education – typically labor in heat over 90 degrees doing strenuous physical tasks including unloading and breaking down pallets. Studies have shown warehouse workers suffer frequent musculoskeletal injuries and respiratory distress from breathing in dust from the containers, often working without safety equipment or adequate ventilation.”

      Yup, sounds lazy to me. But hey, these companies are making a lot more in profit, and CEO’s are getting fat bonuses by exploiting them. I hear some of these CEO’s spend much of their time on a golf course, working hard I guess.

      “So JoeSchmo made $80 million dollars in his lifetime. What business is that of YOURS? The last I heard a man’s income is HIS business, and whether he works to earn it or was BORN into it, it’s STILL his business, NOT YOURS. I wonder where you get off thinking you’re entitled to what he makes, OR this country is entitled to STEAL from him, so that you can sit on your behind and let him support you.”

      One, taxes are not stealing. That’s how we pay for society to function. It’s how we maintain roads, police, programs to keep people from starving, a court system so companies can sue each other over patent infringements, etc… everyone benefits. Two, you are a freaking fool for assuming everyone wants to sit around on their behind and let a rich person support them. Stop watching FOX news for one damn second, and use that brain in your head to think for yourself. Assuming everyone wants to be supported by the rich is just as bad as assuming all minorities are criminals, all Italians are mobsters. The fact remains is this is a large nation, with a lot of expenses, and taxes pay for that. It’s how it works. The money has to come from somewhere, and if you DON’T HAVE IT, you can’t pay a lot. Despite the bullcrap you see on Fox, poor people do pay taxes.

      “This ENTIRE issue is about JEALOUSY!!! You weren’t smart enough, educated enough, tough enough, or MOTIVATED enough to change your life and take a CHANCE on building wealth. You’re AFRAID of competition, because you can’t compete, so you want the rich man’s money to make you feel better. Get outta here.”

      I agree with part of that, I see an issue with people not being smart enough. People gullible enough to believe the horsecrap they are spoon fed. You actually believe that so many people in this country are lazy and unmotivated. You believe the propaganda that the rich are all job creators, they all worked so hard and absolutely deserve what they have so much that they shouldn’t have any of that money taken away in taxes. Holy hell. This country is full of hard working Americans that will never have the luck, or the one in a million opportunity to become wealthy. Just because they aren’t lucky, doesn’t make them lazy… and it doesn’t mean we have to support the entire country on their backs.

      Here’s a newsflash. Nobody wants the rich man’s money. Nobody wants to sit around on their bum and be supported by the 1%. What they want, is for the 1% to stop bribing congress to have the system setup the way THEY want. They want the 1% to stop destroying the economy when they gamble. They want the 1% to stop cheating the rest of the country by abusing their advantageous position. The path to building wealth can require unscrupulous behavior, questionable legal practices, and a complete lack of morals. Not everyone wants to stoop to that level, and that’s fine. The system is setup now to help the wealthy stay wealthy as much as it setup to help the poor not starve. Now suddenly the wealthy have invested in a P.R. campaign to brainwash the weak minded into thinking they’re getting a raw deal. To make everyone believe that if you’re not wealthy, it’s your fault, and you’re lazy. They’re trying to amass even more wealth, for some ungodly reason, and they’re brainwashing fools like you into being their army.

      God help us all.

  64. YoungWhip says:

    The stark difference between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party;
    “Republicans wish to create wealth while the Democrats wish to prevent poverty.” Eventually the 47% that don’t pay taxes will rise to over 50% and we will,again, raise taxes on the rich to offset the difference. It’s a slippery slope, giving incentives to not work.

  65. Econbrowser: CBO on Income Inequality, and Interpreting OWS says:

    […] tax rates at all on the top one percentile (and instead want to raise taxes on the lower quintiles).[1] [2]. The OWS protests can be interpreted in ths context. From TPM: …Harvard Government Professor […]

  66. Christoph Borgers says:

    I enjoy seeing the comments on this page, essentially saying “Well, yes, the poorest 80% of Americans will pay more, but that’s only fair.” Those comments revive my hope that Republican primary voters might actually nominate Cain.

    This would be great: The Republicans nominating a candidate who openly advocates raising taxes on 80% of voters! Let’s then see how that goes down in the general election.

  67. Dallman Ross says:

    Gee, maybe we should do “9, 27, 81” (3**3, 3**4, 3**5).

  68. Alex Long says:

    There is no doubt that this method of displaying this information is effective and I certainly appreciate the message, but I thought I would mention there is absolutely a way to display this info on one graph that would actually fit on a single page: a log plot. The economy is not the only subject which produces data that varies over many orders of magnitude, and while perhaps not as emotionally stirring it is certainly possible to do.