Let’s Be Honest

In his March 2, 2009 column E.J. Dionne, Jr. make an appeal to our better angels, calling for income redistribution,  noting that it’s “important for both sides to be honest about the numbers”. Mr. Dionne relied on Peter Orzag, President Obama’s budget director, to provide him with numbers for his column. Unfortunately, Mr. Dionne, assuming the best no doubt, did not check to see if Mr. Orzag’s presentation met Dionne’s standard of  “honesty” and he included a misleading, blatantly partisan claim in his column.

Mr. Orzag, and more prominently, President Obama, have been making the claim that the rich have not been paying their “fair share” of taxes. Mr. Dionne’s column quoted Mr. Orzag noting that the share of the top 1% earners income had doubled and to quote the column “Now, he said, was their time “to pitch in a bit more”.

“Now”? The implication seems to be that while the rich have been making all this money they haven’t been paying any more taxes. That is simply not not true. The share of the total income tax burden paid by the top 1% of earners has increased by 55% in the last 20 years to 2006. 2006 being the most recent year data has been released by the IRS.

Mr. Dionne fails to meet his own standards for honesty much less an economic or moral case for takings the fruits of one man’s labor and giving it to another.

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