Hackery in action
Obama has made a sweeping statement that it’s common, even typical, for a $50,000-a-year construction worker to pay a higher tax rate than someone earning $50 million a year. The reality is that it’s hard to know for sure.
So how did PolitiFact conclude that it's "hard to know" whether Obama's telling the truth—and therefore, he must be only telling the half-truth?
Well, the brain trust at PolitiFact looked at some tax stuff and found:
The bottom line is that taxpayers in Obama’s construction-worker income range tended to pay an effective federal income tax rate of 7 percent to 8 percent.
These [multi-millionaire] taxpayers had an average federal income tax rate of 18.1 percent, which is also higher than the rate paid by the $50,000 to $75,000 crowd.
So by these calculations, Obama would be incorrect in most cases.
Except that the aforementioned brain trust realized:
These figures are for federal income taxes only. There are also a bunch of other federal taxes that could, and probably should, be included in the calculation.
Funny how they were able to conclude that Obama "would be incorrect in most cases" by simply looking at only the part of the tax structure that supports such a statement. But then, when they looked at, you know, other elements of the tax structure—and talked to some experts at the Urban Institute-Brookings Institute Tax Policy Center—guess what they found?
Adding these to the percentages we previously found for the income tax alone produces a new, "final" rate of 22 to 23 percent for the construction worker and 20 to 30 percent for the $50 million earner.
Huh. So that would seem to suggest that Obama was, you know, right. But that's not good enough for PoltiFact, so they settle on "half truth." Call it bipartisan compromise. Or, in laymen's terms, bullshit.
This inspired me, though, so I decided to fact-check PolitiFact to determine whether it's mostly full of shit or completely full of shit, using the patented PolitiFact method. First, I reached my conclusion that PolitiFact is completely full of shit. Then I excluded all the not-full-of-shit stories from PolitiFact, consulted some experts (read: the Daily Kos staff who happened to be available at the time), and wouldn't you know it? I'm right! PolitiFact is completely full of shit.