George Will’s Bogus Tax Math

George Will (cc photo: Keith Allison)

George Will (cc photo: Keith Allison)

In his Washington Post column yesterday (10/10/10), George Will offered the kind of analysis one has come to expect from George Will:

Today, Barack Obama, a chronic campaigner, is out and about trying to arouse the masses against the inequity of not raising taxes on “the rich.” He opposes extending the Bush tax rates–they are due to expire December 31, when a higher rate is restored–for “millionaires and billionaires.”

And for quarter-millionaires. Expiration would mean an increase for households with incomes of at least $250,000. Obama’s $750,000 fudge sweeps many people into the plutocracy. In Obama’s Chicago, a high school principal can earn $148,000. A police officer with 25 years on the force can earn $114,000–not counting overtime. If the principal and the officer are married, supposedly they are rich.

It’s too bad the Post feels the need to print this kind of drivel. A few weeks ago (8/12/10), the paper published a helpful table that explains, using data from the Joint Committee on Taxation, how the competing Democratic and Republican tax plans would impact different income groups.

Comparing Democratic and Republican tax plansFor families making between $200-500K, the Democrats are looking to preserve an annual tax cut of $6,743 (compared to pre-Bush tax cut rates). The Republicans are looking to save the same taxpayer $7,152.So the difference for this category–which includes Will’s principal-and-police officer married couple–amounts to about $400 a year. And Will’s couple would presumably pay less than that, since their total income just barely crosses the $250,000 mark.

In the same Post graphic, you can see that actual millionaires are the ones that would get significantly different treatment under the competing tax plans. Under the Democrats’ plan, those with incomes of $1 million and above would still see their taxes more than $6,000 lower when compared to pre-Bush tax rates–but they would not be allowed to extend, as the Republicans’ tax plan does, the full $100,000 tax break that Bush gave them.

So when Obama talks about a tax increase on “millionaires and billionaires,” that’s because that’s what it would actually be. Will might say he’s fighting for the Chicago beat cop, but what allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire on the wealthy would really mean is a hefty tax hike for George Will. “Save the tax cuts for people like me,” though, would probably be a less compelling argument for the average newspaper reader.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.