We all know the essentials of the Leftist narrative regarding the rich. Insofar as Occupy Wall Street has become a glorified communications shop for that narrative, the claim advanced by those on the Left is that the rich are getting a disproportionate amount out of America’s political and economic system while contributing almost nothing back – that is, except insofar as they spend money to buy elections and kill democracy. Moreover, they claim, the rich have felt practically none of the brunt of this recession, while the little people – the so-called 99 percent – have borne almost all of it.
A pity that, according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), this entire narrative reduces to an alternate reality. Let’s go down the list of talking points as a sort of Q&A, with the help of this fantastic explanation of the CBO report from the Washington Times, and see how much of it survives.
Question: Do the rich pay their fair share of taxes?
Answer: Yes, and then some. From the Times report:
The bottom 20 percent of American earners paid just three-tenths of a percent of the total federal tax burden, while the richest 20 percent paid 67.9 percent of taxes.
Question: Did the top 1 percent of income earners benefit disproportionately over the course of the recession?
Answer: Absolutely not. They took in only 11.5 percent of income nationwide, while paying 22.3 percent of taxes -nearly double the percentage they earned – in 2009.
Question: Has the top 1 percent of income earners been hurt by the recession?
Answer: Not only have they been hurt, but this recession hurt them the most. Consider these two data points (emphasis added):
The big losers over the past few years were the rest of the well-off — those in the 60th percent to 99th percent of earnings — who saw their tax burdens go up.[…]
In terms of actual earnings, the top 1 percent suffered the most in the recession, with their average earnings dropping from $1.9 million to $1.2 million. The lowest 20 percent saw their incomes drop from $23,900 to $23,500 during that time.
Question: So what is the Left talking about with respect to the rich not giving anything back?
Answer: We’re not sure, but if we had to guess, we’d say it’s something to do with the fact that the richest 1 percent’s share of the tax burden dropped by a full four percent. However, this still puts them paying more than they take out by a sizable margin. Really, we imagine bad data combined with economic frustration is motivating the people who earnestly believe what the Left puts out, but it could just be anti-wealth prejudice and Marxist pap at work. However, for the sake of a healthy debate, we prefer to assume our opponents have at least a basically rational reason for believing what they believe.