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Income share after transfers and taxes

The Congressional Budget Office has officially confirmed what we already knew: The income distribution has been getting more unequal in recent decades. A new report (PDF) on changes in the distribution of income from 1979 to 2007 shows that average income for the top 1 percent "grew by 275 percent between 1979 and 2007." In the same time period, the rest of the top 20 percent saw their average income grow by 65 percent. Those in the middle—60 percent of Americans—had average income growth of just under 40 percent. And, of course, the 20 percent with the lowest income saw the smallest income growth between 1979 and 2007, at just 18 percent.

Government policy increased the tilt toward the very richest:

“The equalizing effect of federal taxes was smaller” in 2007 than in 1979, as “the composition of federal revenues shifted away from progressive income taxes to less-progressive payroll taxes,” the budget office said.

Also, it said, federal benefit payments are doing less to even out the distribution of income, as a growing share of benefits, like Social Security, goes to older Americans, regardless of their income.

The end result is that, as the graph above shows, after transfers (like Social Security) and taxes, the richest 20 percent were taking in 53 percent of the income in 2007, up from 43 percent in 1979. The increase was even greater for the top 1 percent, whose share of income more than doubled in those years, from just under 8 percent to 17 percent. By contrast, of course, the 20 percent of people making the least money saw their share of after-tax income drop from 7 percent in 1979 to 5 percent in 2007. The broad middle class, too, lost ground on its share of after-tax income.

All of which is just as congressional Republicans want. They're just looking to finish the job.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 07:02 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos and Income Inequality Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This graph needs to be everywhere /nt (7+ / 0-)

    I am off my metas! Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03)

    by annieli on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 07:41:21 AM PDT

    •  time for the needle's eye on wealth inerrency (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar, TomP, Russgirl
      Andrew Jackson, in his 1832 bank veto, said that when the laws undertake... to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society... have a right to complain of the injustice to their Government
      The phrase resembles the Bible verse
      For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Matthew 13:12, King James translation

      I am off my metas! Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03)

      by annieli on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 07:46:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Jackson quote is nice, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mr MadAsHell, annieli

        but Andrew Jackson sought a herenvolk democracy, a demcoracy for members of a master race.  He helped clear out land fo Native Americans so landless whites could have land.  He supported slavery.  He sought a rough equality among whites.  

        Andrew Jackson was no hero.  See, e.g., Trail of Tears.

           

        More jobs equal less debt, even our kids can understand that.

        by TomP on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 09:36:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Andrew Jackson was a scumbag by current standards, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TomP, annieli

          but that doesn't mean we should throw out everything he did and said on that account.  He also put the secession of the south off by a generation when he said he'd hang John C Calhoun, et al., "higher than Haman."  They believed him, and backed down.

          •  I hear you, but it is his overall philosophy (0+ / 0-)

            that was deeply immoral.  It's important to see the monsters who were president for what they were.  

            The evil done to Native Americans and African Americans is not offset by his desire for rough equality among whites.  The Whigs then actually were better for Africans and Native Americans, although many supported business interests and the Bank of the United States.

            Jackson is given credit for his egalitarianism, but if one considers Native Americans and African Americans in the equation, he was the exact opposite of an egalitarian.  Rough equality among whites was based on genocidal action against native Ameircans, stealing their land in order to give to poor whites.  See Georgia where the had a lottery after pushing Native Americans off the land through force.  Jackson refused to enfore the Supreme Court judgment requiring the land to be given back.  

            The traditional Democratic ideology placed Jackson high in the pantheon when Dems were aparty with a significan white supremesist faction, but overall he was a truly evil man, like many of our early Presidents.  We don't like seeing that.  

            Jackson was a slaveowner.  I've seen the cemetary at the Hermitage where some of his slaves were buried.

               

            More jobs equal less debt, even our kids can understand that.

            by TomP on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 10:25:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm not a Jacksonian, although I party like one (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TomP

              just for the record - I'm probably more of a Jeffersonian with a touch of Tom Paine and yeah I know about Sally Heming

              I am off my metas! Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03)

              by annieli on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 10:33:01 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  The poor people for whom Jackson was fighting (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ageing Hippie

              were former white bond servants or the descendants of white men and women who came to this country in bondage.  If one takes the time to research the family histories of many white families that we consider to be "white trash" or "rednecks," one will find that almost all of these people are descendents of white men and women who came to this continent in bondage.  

              Most of us like to believe the whitewashed image of our colonial period.  However, the truth is that the majority of white men and women who came to this country between 1608 and 1800 did so in bondage.  The practice of importing white bond servants from Europe did not end until after we won our independence from England (that's when England started to ship its convicts and surplus poor to Australia).  The majority of bond servants were not redemptioners.  In fact, a large percentage of these poor souls were poor children who were snatched from the streets of England and pressed into service in the colonies until they reached the age of twenty one (this practice, known as "kidnabbing," is the origin of the transitive verb  "kidnap").  Many other bond servants were debtors who could not repay their debts, hardcore criminals who chose "transportation" over the gallows, or German serfs who were sold into bondage.

              If you take the time to study Bacon's Rebellion, you will understand that Andrew Jackson was trying to right a wrong.  We were a country that was supposed to value equality; however, in reality,  free poor white and black colonists where left to fight over the scraps.  Bacon's Rebellion was spark that ignited the institution of racism in this country.  Racism is the scheme that rich white colonists devised to divide-and-conquer poor white and poor black colonists.  Today, the uber wealthy and politicians uses wedge issues like abortion, gay rights, and gun control to keep us fighting each other over the scraps while they loot the bank.

              The GOP has become the "Jerry Springer" party.

              by ConcernedCitizenYouBet on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 12:18:31 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Any pie charts of income distribution? (0+ / 0-)

      I don't remember seeing pie charts of income distributions.

      I think that use of pie charts:

      - will be more understandable to a wider portion on the US population, particularly the portion that the Limbaughs of the world target

      - highlight more effectively the rapid concentration of income by a very small group of top earners.

      These charts/graphs would show a snapshot of incomes say in the 1970s, and another one pie chart of incomes in the current times e.g. 2010.

      Yes We Can - Tear Down the Walls of fear, hate & division!

      by SpringFever on Sat Oct 29, 2011 at 09:17:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yep. Kevin Phillips used these numbers in (8+ / 0-)

    his book "Bad Money", I think.  By the time the second great depression hit in '07, I was already angry and knew about many things that were wrong but writers like Phillips really opened my eyes to the magnitude of the problems - economic, political, and social - and the enormity of the deception by the global rich.

    Thank you for posting these numbers, as they are eye opening and even give apologists for the very rich pause.

    You don't know me. I long how I long. You can't hold me. I'm strong now I'm strong. Stronger than your law. ~ Al Stewart (The Last Day of June 1934)

    by Saint Jimmy on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 08:31:49 AM PDT

    •  Yeah, good book (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Saint Jimmy

      nim

      No nation can be great if it allows its elites to loot with impunity and prosecutes its whistleblowers. Geithner is destroying the things that made America great. -- Bill Black, white-collar criminologist & a former senior financial regulator

      by jboxman on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 12:23:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The graph shows it all. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tracker, Russgirl

    There were many who warned back in the 1980s about what Reagan would do, what the extremsits were doing.

    This really began with conservadem polcies of Carter in 78 onward, but it accelerated under Reagan.  Had Carter won, it would be somewhat less stratified.

    Bush II finished the job on working people that Reagan began.

    More jobs equal less debt, even our kids can understand that.

    by TomP on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 09:34:10 AM PDT

  •  Is this a great country, or what? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Russgirl, socal altvibe

    We might as well run Donald Trump for president - who better to symbolize the triumph of  the power of fawning media, giant ego, and total lack of taste over egalitarian demoncracy?

    They talk about the Gilded Age - the appearance of wealth, with no substance underneath. None of this wealth at the top is doing the country any good at all, but a great deal of harm.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 09:37:36 AM PDT

  •  I hope people distribute this graph (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    flumptytail, Mr MadAsHell

    far and wide.

  •  it feels like it got much (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ggwoman55

    worse since 2007, which was the year used for these stats.  Why can't we get more up-to-date numbers?  

    •  actually probably not... (0+ / 0-)

      since a large part of the income disparity is generated through exercising stock options, capital gains, etc, vs. ordinary income....not so much of the former lately.  But I agree, it does feel worse....

      I believe the source was tax returns and census information and I don't think they have collated the tax data yet

  •  Oh, that's where my raises went. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Saint Jimmy

    I was wondering.

    /Could use a raise that's more than approx. $5 a week.

    I write the series Confessions of a Retail Worker here on DK. It documents my life in a non-unionized workplace.

    by Lightbulb on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 09:44:04 AM PDT

  •  "Trickle Down" economics (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tracker, Saint Jimmy

    "Trickle Down" economics worked exactly the way it was intended to work.  

    Too bad no Democrat is making political hay over this and calling for the rollback of the Reagan tax cuts.  

    Add the "fees" added by Republican legislatures to protect the 1% and the hammering of the middle/working class looks even worse.  

    Some of us remember when the middle/working class was seen as a good thing and not just as a cash cow for the top 1%.

    Too bad the Democratic party doesn't make the Reagan tax cut rollback part of the platform ............. and actually sticks with it.  

    All of which is just as congressional Republicans want.

    Here we go again:  Democrats voted for the tax cuts too.  The Reagan administration had 2 years of a Democratic House and 8 years of a Democratic Senate.  

    The Republicans didn't do it alone.

    I also thank the one who rearranged deck chairs on the Titanic so those on board ship could get a better view of the iceberg.

    by NyteByrd1954 on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 09:45:34 AM PDT

  •  These guys always wanted to be dukes and earls (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Saint Jimmy

    and princes, etc........almost there.

  •  The chart is not quite on point (0+ / 0-)

    It doesn't show growth in income, but rather share of total income.

    If you just scan the graph without thinking, you could jump to the conclusion that income growth for all but the top 1% was negative between 1979 and 2007.  That's not the point of the post; it's that relative growth showed such a huge disparity.

    the fact that you're right is nothing more than interesting

    by Egg on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 09:46:23 AM PDT

  •  The CBO is obviously engaging in class warfare (0+ / 0-)

    After all, you shouldn't punish success!

    :eyeroll:  it's amazing how easily Republicans can push aside reality and substitute their own fantasy.

    We do not forgive. We do not forget. The whole world is watching.

    by Tracker on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 09:46:41 AM PDT

  •  What about (0+ / 0-)

    the last 3 years? Bet the trend is the same....all conservative, all the time. Gobama.

    I didn't abandon the fight, I abandoned the Party that abandoned the fight...

    by Jazzenterprises on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 09:52:18 AM PDT

  •  Another post on this CBO study (0+ / 0-)

    Gasoline made from the tar sands gives a Toyota Prius the same impact on climate as a Hummer using gasoline made from oil. ~ Al Gore

    by Lefty Coaster on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 09:54:37 AM PDT

  •  Inequality produces unrest (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Russgirl, Mr MadAsHell, Saint Jimmy

    Very interesting article in last The Economist;

    Inequality is also an engine of protest. A classic 1994 paper by Alberto Alesina of Harvard University and Roberto Perotti of Bocconi University studied 71 countries between 1960 and 1985 and found that higher levels of income inequality were associated with increased social instability. Their explanation was that unrest often erupts when a wealthy middle class is weakened.

    Dailykos.com; an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action 48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam

    by Shockwave on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 09:55:56 AM PDT

    •  Um. Duh? LOL. Sorry, but any kid who has had (0+ / 0-)

      one decent course in world history could tell you this.

      You don't know me. I long how I long. You can't hold me. I'm strong now I'm strong. Stronger than your law. ~ Al Stewart (The Last Day of June 1934)

      by Saint Jimmy on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 12:30:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Before tax numbers even more shocking (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    socal altvibe, Saint Jimmy

    Top 1% has 21%; the same as the bottom 60%. See Box 2 on page 8. After 30 years of tax cuts and budget cuts, transfers and taxes only increase equality by a small amount as share of top 5% is a little lower after tax than before. But  GOP wants to cut transfers and reduce the tax burden on the top even more so after tax income could become even more unequal and closer to pre-tax income distribution. This study really shows why we need to substantially hike taxes on the people at the top; that could restore income shares to what they were in 1979 when the top 1% only had 8% of after tax income. It's not like the economy is in better shape as a result of this more unequal distribution of income; it's in worse shape than when income inequality was not as great.

  •  So if i was in the bottom quintile (0+ / 0-)

    in 1979 and became an amazingly sucessful billionaire by 2007, would my monster income be increasing that lower quintile, or would i be re-classified into the highest quintile?

    If the latter, then the lowest quintile will always look bad since anyone who is sucessful doesn't count there anymore.

    Many people in that lower quintile in 1979 were probably new young workers. Thirty years later and they're now in their prime earning years. IOW, if you track people over that time frame you should see the biggest gains from that lower quintile.

    Can they do one of these where they track the people from 1979, but hold the quintile fixed?

    •  This is the cornerstone of republican response... (0+ / 0-)

      ...that individuals  move through each quintile quite a lot during their working lives.  Perhaps born out by the looking at the Forbes 400 - the number of people who are repeaters on the list has gone down dramatically over time - Wikipedia says 1,302 people have been on the list since inception.

      I have never heard of a study that looks at workers movement through quintiles, but it would be interesting.

      None of this is to minimize the corrosive effect of income stagnation on our society, btw.  

      •  There have also been some pretty good, unbiased (0+ / 0-)

        studies of "upward mobility" in the U.S. during the same time frame and they ALL show that it has DECREASED markedly and that there is less mobility between "classes" than in almost ALL EU nations, as well as Japan....

        So much for the usual republican lie and fucking diversion.  

        Fuck you, rich people.

        You don't know me. I long how I long. You can't hold me. I'm strong now I'm strong. Stronger than your law. ~ Al Stewart (The Last Day of June 1934)

        by Saint Jimmy on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 12:36:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think these can both be true... (0+ / 0-)

          that there is a lot of movement in and out of the top quintile(s) AND decreased movement out of the bottom quintile(s).

          •  Here ya' go.... Knock yourself out reading about (0+ / 0-)

            You don't know me. I long how I long. You can't hold me. I'm strong now I'm strong. Stronger than your law. ~ Al Stewart (The Last Day of June 1934)

            by Saint Jimmy on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 01:06:20 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  But it isn't true that there is decent mobility (0+ / 0-)

            in the US.  I could bury you with studies and articles published during the last 10 years showing that economic mobility has decreased.  However, if it makes you FEEL better, by all means, kep yet ANOTHER myth alive.

            You don't know me. I long how I long. You can't hold me. I'm strong now I'm strong. Stronger than your law. ~ Al Stewart (The Last Day of June 1934)

            by Saint Jimmy on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 01:10:25 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You really don't listen do you... (0+ / 0-)

              I said that there could be reduced mobility in the lower quintiles, which all these articles support, AND have increased movement in and out of the upper quintiles, which none of the articles you post say anything about.  In fact the only statistical evidence of that is my posting about the number of people who have occupied the Forbes 400 list.

              •  I don't listen but you can't READ, can you? (0+ / 0-)

                But social mobility is not increasing at anything like the same pace: would-be Horatio Algers are finding it no easier to climb from rags to riches, while the children of the privileged have a greater chance of staying at the top of the social heap. The United States risks calcifying into a European-style class-based society.

                You don't know me. I long how I long. You can't hold me. I'm strong now I'm strong. Stronger than your law. ~ Al Stewart (The Last Day of June 1934)

                by Saint Jimmy on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 02:47:57 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Also, there is this: (0+ / 0-)

                Some researchers claim that social mobility is actually declining. A classic social survey in 1978 found that 23% of adult men who had been born in the bottom fifth of the population (as ranked by social and economic status) had made it into the top fifth. Earl Wysong of Indiana University and two colleagues recently decided to update the study. They compared the incomes of 2,749 father-and-son pairs from 1979 to 1998 and found that few sons had moved up the class ladder. Nearly 70% of the sons in 1998 had remained either at the same level or were doing worse than their fathers in 1979. The biggest increase in mobility had been at the top of society, with affluent sons moving upwards more often than their fathers had. They found that only 10% of the adult men born in the bottom quarter had made it to the top quarter.

                The Economic Policy Institute also argues that social mobility has declined since the 1970s. In the 1990s 36% of those who started in the second-poorest 20% stayed put, compared with 28% in the 1970s and 32% in the 1980s. In the 1970s 12% of the population moved from the bottom fifth to either the fourth or the top fifth. In the 1980s and 1990s the figures shrank to below 11% for both decades. The figure for those who stayed in the top fifth increased slightly but steadily over the three decades, reinforcing the sense of diminished social mobility.

                We all know that this situation has worsened, as well....

                You don't know me. I long how I long. You can't hold me. I'm strong now I'm strong. Stronger than your law. ~ Al Stewart (The Last Day of June 1934)

                by Saint Jimmy on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 02:52:36 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  One more: (0+ / 0-)

                But for most of the poor, the United States is no longer the land of opportunity. Economic research in the past decade has found that upward mobility has faded; most of the children of rich parents stay rich and the children of the poor remain poor.

                You don't know me. I long how I long. You can't hold me. I'm strong now I'm strong. Stronger than your law. ~ Al Stewart (The Last Day of June 1934)

                by Saint Jimmy on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 02:54:40 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  And we all know where current policies will (0+ / 0-)

                lead, don't we?  There this quote from the communists at Pew:

                “A growing difference in education levels between income and racial groups, especially in college degrees, implies that mobility will be lower in the future than it is today,” said Ron Haskins, a former Republican official and welfare expert who wrote the education section of the report.

                You don't know me. I long how I long. You can't hold me. I'm strong now I'm strong. Stronger than your law. ~ Al Stewart (The Last Day of June 1934)

                by Saint Jimmy on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 03:02:08 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  I Assume This Graph Does Not Take Into Account (0+ / 0-)

    inflation from 1979 -2007? If the numbers were inflation adjusted (i.e. show the decrease in purchasing power due to inflation from 1979 -2007), I am betting the lower 3 quintiles would be NEGATIVE, showing a LOSS of total share of income.

  •  Are these results (0+ / 0-)

    also being affected by demographic differences between 1979 and today?

    If married households are less common, does that not lead to cases like

    1979
    1 household, 2 earners 40K + 30K = 70K

    2007
    1 household 1 earner 40K
    1 household 1 earner 30K

    •  During more recent years, there are probably (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wsexson

      more two income households than in 1979....

      You don't know me. I long how I long. You can't hold me. I'm strong now I'm strong. Stronger than your law. ~ Al Stewart (The Last Day of June 1934)

      by Saint Jimmy on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 12:38:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  the reasons they don't mention (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Saint Jimmy

    The USAs thirty year experiment with Reaganomic Trickledown economics including Deregulation, Unionbusting and tax cut policies for the 1% have caused what the stats show.

    America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

    by cacamp on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 10:31:48 AM PDT

  •  This is all well and good. (0+ / 0-)

    Corporations rule stealing money, legally. Time to take it back!

    by Diebold Hacker on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 10:31:53 AM PDT

  •  Obama tax plan doesn't fix this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Saint Jimmy

    While Republicans will block any tax increase on the wealthy, Obama's plan to end Bush cuts for the wealthy only raises the maximum rate from 35% to 39.6%. Prior to the Reagan tax cuts of the early 80s, maximum rate was 70%. Robert Reich has called for a 50% rate on income above $500k and 60% on income above $5 million. He also says capital gains should be taxed like ordinary income. That's crucial. The maximum rate on capital gains was  28% in 1997; now it's only 15%. That's why the superrich pay so little, often a lower rate than ordinary working Americans. Has this lower rate done the economy any good?  While a step in the right direction, Obama's plan wouldn't get us back to 1979, when the top 1%'s share of after tax income was a more reasonable 8%.

    •  Fucking embarassing, isn't it? I can't believe (0+ / 0-)

      people fall for the shit being thrown at them, these days.  The proposed "roll back" of the Bush the younger cuts is nothing - just a few peanuts thrown to the gallery.  Disgusting.

      You don't know me. I long how I long. You can't hold me. I'm strong now I'm strong. Stronger than your law. ~ Al Stewart (The Last Day of June 1934)

      by Saint Jimmy on Wed Oct 26, 2011 at 12:40:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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