Monday, September 20, 2010

The "Center" On The Move

Chris Matthews on Hardball on Monday commented

What about people like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, who have their living in the center?

The American Conservative Union rating for McConnell is 96% for his votes in 2009 and 89.66 lifetime; for John Boehner, the comparable figures are 96% and 94%. Digby remarks, in a post entitled "Moving Goalpost Alert," "that's what Matthews considers the center."

But so it goes in the Obama/Palin age. In his live CNBC townhall event (video, from Think Progress, below) on Monday, the President, questioned by a hedge fund manager, commented in part

After a huge crisis, the top 25 hedge fund managers took home a bilion dollars in income that year. A billion- that's the average for the top 25.

A major source of contention, the President continued, is

carried interest, which basically allows hedge fund managers to get taxed at 15% of their income. Now eveerybody else is getting taxed at- you know, a lot more. But the secretary of the hedge fund is probably getting taxed at 25, 28, right? And these folks are getting taxed at 15.

Good point, Mr. President, but.... 28%? That would be an unusually fortunate secretary to get taxed at 28%, given the 28% tax bracket in 2010 of $82,400-$171,850 ($34,000-$62,400 for the 25% bracket). Perhaps if his/her boss is taking home one billion dollars, that secretary should be getting paid over $82,000. Alas, that's hardly likely.

But it is a measure, albeit one fairly minor example, of the goalposts moving right. Maybe it's ignorance, or wishful thinking, or a conceit of the privileged class (which would include most successful politicians of the state or national level) that hard working members of the middle class are being paid by their generous bosses eighty, ninety thousand dollars a year.

The problem is not Barack Obama or those movers and shakers who would not be offended if such individuals received generous salaries, but those who find the economic status quo, including hedge fund managers and others being taxed at a rate effectively below persons of modest means, just fine. That would include most Republican politicians and, unfortunately, some Democrats.

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