Saturday, September 24, 2011

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

John Steele Gordon cherry picks tax revenue data to build up the Bush tax cuts:
Taxes on the rich are taxes on people who create jobs. And jobs are an unalloyed good thing for an economy. Excessively taxing the capital that makes the economy go is poor public policy. And we have a recent example of how the opposite works well: Unemployment declined by a third in the four years after the Bush tax cuts were fully implemented in 2003, dropping to 4.2 percent from 6.2 percent. Meanwhile, federal revenue increased 44 percent in those years. If these tax cuts put people to work and generated money for the government, shouldn’t Obama consider the possibility that tax increases should be avoided?
Shouldn't Gordon look a little more at the data.  He selects the year of lowest tax revenues (after the first Bush tax cuts went into effect and the tech bubble popped), and compares it to the peak year of revenue, at the height of the housing bubble.  In that time frame, Wall Street was making ridiculous profits by buying and packaging and reselling toxic mortgages.  Also, corporate income taxes increased 180%, while individual income tax was up 46.6% and social insurance revenues were up 21.9%.  That indicates to me that the wealthy did much better than anyone else.  If these tax cuts created jobs, where did they go after the housing bubble popped?

Two other things to note.  Individual income tax revenues from 2000-2007 increased a total of 15.8%.  Income tax revenues from 2007-2011 decreased 22.7%, and decreased 10.5% from 2000-2011.

Finally, if a person is to cherry pick data, how about looking at total tax revenues from the four years after 1996, when taxes were even higher, but the tech bubble was booming.  In those four years, total individual income tax revenues increased 53% while social insurance revenues were up 28.1%.  Corporate taxes, on the other hand, were only up 20.6%.  That was comparing revenues in the midst of a boom, not from economic bottom to economic top.  What the Great Recession has indicated is that we can't look to bubbles to grow our economy.  We will have to increase revenues somehow.  After the last 30 years of income inequality, there is only one place to find the money.  That is the President's math, and no twisting of statistics will get away from that.  Bush's tax cuts haven't created jobs, that much is obvious.  Taxes haven't increased, but now unemployment is 9.2%.  Please explain.

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