Good Idea

August 23, 2008 9:33 p.m.

From TPM Reader JS

I wish team Obama would drive the elitism point home by doing the math on how much of a tax break John and Cindy McCain would get from McCain’s plan vs the avg American (at the US median household income). And then for good measure show what would happen with Obama’s plan.

This would keep the theme of McCain’s elitism and Republican elitist economics in the press for a while longer.

Another reader continues the thought …

It might be nice to use the McCains’ income to model the tax cuts, but that would require their disclosing how much they make. To get a sense of the difference, though, one need look no further than the NYTimes Magazine piece this Sunday on Obama’s economic policies:

“McCain, by continuing the basic thrust of Bush’s tax policies and adding a few new wrinkles, would cut taxes for the top 0.1 percent of earners — those making an average of $9.1 million — by another $190,000 a year, on top of the Bush reductions. Obama would raise taxes on this top 0.1 percent by an average of $800,000 a year.

It’s hard not to look at that figure and be a little stunned. It would represent a huge tax increase on the wealthy families. But it’s also worth putting the number in some context. The bulk of Obama’s tax increases on the wealthy — about $500,000 of that $800,000 — would simply take away Bush’s tax cuts. The remaining $300,000 wouldn’t nearly
reverse their pretax income gains in recent years. Since the mid-1990s, their inflation-adjusted pretax income has roughly doubled.”

That’s a good ballpark estimation. Obama would raise McCain’s taxes by roughly $800,000; McCain would cut them by about $200,000. That’s a million dollar spread. No wonder McCain is so hostile to Obama’s economic agenda.

But here’s what’s really interesting. Obama’s proposals would raise his own taxes by hundreds of thousands of dollars, in order to cut the taxes of people who are less fortunate than he is. McCain would cut his own taxes even further than they’ve already been reduced. And that’s everything a voter needs to know about these two men.

Late Update: Our full staff doesn’t work weekends. But I think the graphic we want here has John and Cindy on the right and the average American family on the left, with two bubbles next to each family — one for the impact of each candidate’s tax plan. Somehow graphically you also want to add in the middle class to rich threshold at $5 million annual income.

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