By Deroy Murdock
It's official: America is at class war, and President Barack Obama proudly leads the charge against this country's wealthy.
``If asking a millionaire to pay the same tax rate as a plumber makes me a class warrior ― a warrior for the working class ― I will accept that," Obama shouted Tuesday at Denver's Abraham Lincoln High School. ``I will wear that charge as a badge of honor."
``Middle-class families shouldn't pay higher tax rates than millionaires and billionaires. A teacher or a nurse or a construction worker making $50,000 a year shouldn't pay higher tax rates than somebody making $50 million."
Obama's assault on the affluent rests upon a sky-high stack of lies. Obama is too well staffed and too well informed not to know otherwise. So, maddeningly, he straight-out lies to the American people.
For days before Obama opened his mouth in Denver, multiple news accounts and opinion pieces annihilated the casus belli of his War on the Wealthy. Nonetheless, Obama keeps spouting falsehoods, perhaps hoping that his smooth voice will hypnotize Americans into believing his words.
``Fact check: The wealthy already pay more taxes," read the headline above a September 20 Associated Press. ``President Obama says he wants to make sure millionaires are taxed at higher rates than their secretaries," Stephen Ohlemacher wrote. ``The data say they already are."
Nationwide, Ohlemacher and others dismantled Obama's soak-the-rich thesis. The rich are soaked today.
In 2008, its latest data indicate, the Internal Revenue Service harvested $1.0315 trillion in income tax ― of which the top 10 percent of earners paid $721.4 billion. The top 5 percent shelled out another $605.7 billion, and the top 1 percent relinquished $392.15 billion. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent collectively paid just $27.9 billion. Thus, the top 1 percent of taxpayers furnished 14 times the income taxes that the bottom half of filers supplied.
In 2009, the IRS reports, those who made at least $1 million average 24.4 percent of adjusted gross income in federal income taxes. Those who scored $200,000 to $300,000 paid 17.5 percent. Between $100,000 and $125,000: 9.9 percent. From $50,000 to $60,000: 6.3 percent. Those who earned between $20,000 and $30,000 saw income taxes devour 2.5 percent of AGI.
Income, schmincome, Leftists chirp. What about payroll taxes that lower-income Americans pay? Counting other taxes still shows that higher earners pay more, Obama's dark fantasies notwithstanding.
The Tax Policy Center ― a joint venture of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution ― reported August 24 that Americans who receive $1 million or more will average 29.1 percent of earnings in 2011 federal income, payroll, corporate, and death taxes. Those clearing between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay 15 percent, while those from $40,000 to $50,000 will average 12.5 percent. Those federal taxes will extract 5.7 percent from earners between $20,000 and $30,000.
Dry? Yes. But these figures demonstrate that Americans who earn more money pay more federal tax. Those who see less pay less. If Obama finds this unfair, he should define fairness.
True, the IRS notes, 1,470 households produced at least $1 million but paid no federal income tax in 2009. Still, this is just 0.62 percent of the 236,883 returns that millionaires filed. This reinforces the bipartisan idea of closing loopholes and lowering tax rates ― but not Obama's crusade against ``millionaires and billionaires" and his American Jobs Act's tax hikes on people earning as little as $200,000.
When Obama accepted the 2008 Democratic nomination in Denver, he espoused national unity. The USA would ``come together as one American family," he declared. The nearby Continental Divide might become this republic's only rift, if Barack Obama secured the presidency.
How disappointing that the eloquent man who millions hoped would heal this land now actively pits Americans against each other ― not by race or creed, but by income. As London's arson-scorched victims of mob rule learned last August, there is nothing cute about class war.
Deroy Murdock is a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at deroy.Murdock@gmail.com.