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View Diary: Pete Peterson Group: "$250k a Year Is Not Easy Street" (317 comments)

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  •  Pete Peterson doesn't give a horse's patoot (44+ / 0-)

    about people making $250k a year.  But he is doing something smart.  Couples who make $175 - $400k in earned income a year are a sweet spot demographically.

    They ones I know are generally well educated, somewhat informed and they vote.  They have traveled, value education, are more socially liberal than many GOPers and are concerned about the environment.  They know they could be wiped out by an insured illness (although the ones who haven't yet had a health issue are still a little smug about having good health insurance).  Nonetheless they could easily be Dem voters but for the tax issue.

    They feel overtaxed - and compared to Pete Peterson, they are.  These folks make very good incomes, yes, but they are trapped between two demographics.  There are the Pete Petersons of the world who are absolutely bullet proof.  If his grandkid gets leukemia and is uninsured, Pete could drop a million bucks on his treatment and not even notice - he is bulletproof.  Pete could never work another day in his life and all his bills would still get paid.  For some crazy reason a couple earning over $250k a year is in very close to the same marginal bracket as Peterson, but they don't feel rich in the same way (and they aren't). They aren't bullet proof and if they don't get up and go to work, or if the breadwinner gets a debilitating disease, they'd lose it all pretty quick.

    So we lump them in for tax purposes like they are the super rich, but they don't feel like they are (b/c they aren't).  On the other hand they resent everyone lower down the ladder.  And boy, does the GOP play to that.  That nice juicy home mortgage deduction - phased out for them, itemized deductions in general - phased out, exemptions - phased out.  Financial aid for college - they aren't eligible.  

    The GOP preys on the mindset of these folks.  They are trying to drive a wedge between these folks and the Dems, because they know they could easily vote Dem otherwise.  Pete is saying to these folks "we know you don't feel rich" "we know you pay too much in taxes"  "they want to tax you til you drop to pay for programs and benefits you will never benefit from" "we feel your pain, vote for us."  But they are lying.  What they are really saying is that you poor working chumps, we need to manipulate you into thinking you are one of us and that our interests align so we can keep our really good goodies in the tax code, the ones you working chumps don't know anything about and can't benefit from  - like the one that lets hedge fund managers earning multi-multi-millions in a year pay income tax at the 15% cap gains rate instead of 35%."  I am willing to bet that Pete's effective tax rate on ALL of his income (if you count it all including tax-free, capital and "deferred"), is less than your average small business owner or professional couple who has 380k in earned W-2 income.

    We need to stop the loopholes, stop treating earned and unearned income differently, get rid of tax-free munis, and quit lumping folks who make 250k in with  folks who make 15 million.  There is no reason for 6 rackets on the first 380k and NO further brackets after that...

    Newt Gingrich: Believes marriage is between one man and a series of ever younger women. Wife #1 born ~ 1936, divorced when in her mid-40s...Wife #2 born ~1947, divorced when in her mid-40s...Wife #3 born ~1966.

    by trillian on Tue Jul 05, 2011 at 02:28:01 PM PDT

    •  Great insightful comment (13+ / 0-)

      You are absolutely right that lumping people making $250k in with the Pete Petersens of the world make zero sense. There should be a further tax bracket at $1million and up.

      Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, it is actually not rare at all to come across people making over $250k. Due to the high housing prices, most of these people don't even have much to show for their $250k a year.

      •  We left (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Flying Goat, Clues, sargoth

        When two people in software - my late husband a software developer earning $85,000 a year and I a senior software QA engineer earning $65,000 a year - figure out by budgeting carefully that they cannot afford to buy a house in the Bay Area anywhere near where they work, there's something really wrong with the real estate market. And this was in the 90s!

        Organ donors save multiple lives! A donor's kidney gave me my life back on 02/18/11; he lives on in me and in others. Please talk with your family about your wish to donate and sign up to give others the gift of life.

        by Kitsap River on Tue Jul 05, 2011 at 04:58:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent comment (16+ / 0-)

      Except it doesn't only work on the upper middle class.  It works all the way down to the guy making 30K a year who can still find it in himself to resent the "welfare queens" for getting shit for free that he has to pay for.

      Not one of these people would trade their own lifestyle in for that of the person a tier down the ladder who supposedly has it so good, but can they resent them?  Oh my yes.  The plutocrats have this argument down to a T, and there is essentially nothing in our culture to oppose it.  Social justice?  Don't make me laugh.  Rich paying their fair share -- are you kidding?  They deserve what they have, we should kiss the ground they walk on.

    •  Excellent comment. (1+ / 0-)
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      I agree that it's wrong to lump the $250K folks in with the really rich, especially for tax purposes.  There needs to be more stratification of the income brackets.

      I think both sides are guilty of lumping these folks together for rhetorical purposes, though.  It has been interesting to read through the comments here and see what people think $250K buys.  People earning that much can certainly live comfortably pretty much anywhere in the U.S.  But $250K is not exactly the land of yachts and vacation homes -- especially when many who earn that much have to move to high-COL cities and take out hundreds of thousands in educational debt.

      It would be great if the people who craft our tax policy had your ability to appreciate nuance.

    •  You're right, (6+ / 0-)

      and the hypothetical family profiled would see a tax decrease, not increase, under Obama's proposals in any case.

      Peterson and his ilk are shilling for those far wealthier, who play in a different universe than those who need to work for a living at any income level.  

      The hypothetical family is presumed to have little wealth, but the truly amazing tax breaks have been given to those who live only off of income from their wealth.

      By playing off of the dislike of paying taxes that nearly everyone shares, the super wealthy snooker people into voting for Republican policies that are truly designed for a plutocratic elite that excludes over 99% of the population.

      Civil marriage is a civil right.

      by UU VIEW on Tue Jul 05, 2011 at 05:26:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Comment again, so I can rec you again. (nt) (1+ / 0-)
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