January 25, 2012

Forbes' Bogus DeBunker

Forbes' Paul Roderick Gregory can beat the shit out of a strawman.  But when it comes to "debunking" the "myth" that there's anything wrong with the tax code, he falls short of the mark.

In case you missed what  Shah Limb Guru referred to "Obama's disgusting use of Warren Buffett's secretary,"  Mr. Gregory's article is being used to refute Buffett's - and Obama's - assertion that the differences between what Buffet is taxed versus what his personal assistant, Debbie Bosanek, is being taxed, demonstrates a problem with our tax code.
Warren Buffett’s Secretary Likely Makes Between $200,000 And $500,000/Year
Warren Buffet’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek, served as a stage prop for President Obama’s State of the Union speech. She was the President’s chief display of the alleged unfairness of our tax system – a little person paying a higher tax rate than her billionaire boss.

Bosanek’s prominent role in Obama’s “fairness” campaign piqued my curiosity, and I imagine the curiosity of others. How much does her boss pay this downtrodden woman?
Did you see it?  No?  Let's go a little further...
....we need to determine how much income a taxpayer like Bosanek must earn in order to pay an average tax rate above fifteen percent. This is easy to do.

The IRS publishes detailed tax tables by income level. The latest results are for 2009. They show that taxpayers earning an adjusted gross income between $100,000 and $200,000 pay an average rate of twelve percent. This is below Buffet’s rate; so she must earn more than that. Taxpayers earning adjusted gross incomes of $200,000 to $500,000, pay an average tax rate of nineteen percent. Therefore Buffet must pay Debbie Bosanke a salary above two hundred thousand.
Do you see it yet?
I have nothing against Debbie Bosanke earning a half million or even more. Buffet is a major player in the world economy. His secretary deserves good compensation. At her income, however, she is scarcely the symbol of injustice that Obama wishes her to project.
OMG!  She possibly earns over $200,000 but no more than half a million a year! 

Isn't it cute how he slipped that higher figure in like it was cold hard fact?  He boosted her from making "over $200,000" to "over a half million" in the blink of an eye; I wish I got raises that quickly!

Here's the big lie Mr. Gregory is feeding you; that anyone is arguing that Warren Buffet is underpaying his secretary. 

This isn't about what she's paid. Her salary isn't the issue being argued. It's about the percentage of her income that gets taxed.  Bosanek is taxed 35.8% of her salary, while Buffett pays only 17.4%.  To put it in other words, his tax rate is less than half of her tax rate.

Buffett thinks that it's ridiculous that he is taxed at a lower rate than she is.  Gregory's counter-argument, picked up by the witless Right, is that she makes a lot of money, therefore Buffett is wrong.

By the Numbers

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that she really does make a half million a year to be Buffett's personal assistant.  It's not unreasonable, considering what her boss makes.

She makes a great living, no doubt.

But Warren Buffett makes a fucking gi-normous wage.

Let's compare their incomes, shall we?  Buffett reported his income to Huffington Post last year, so we can compare his income to what Mr. Gregory has decided Ms. Bosanek probably makes.

Warren Buffett's total income:             $62,855,038.
Debbie Bosanek's maximum income: $     500,000.

A couple of other ways to look at it:
  • Every month, Buffet makes more than ten times what his secretary makes in a year
  • Every week, Buffet makes more than twice what she makes in a year.
And his tax rate is less than half of hers. 

That's not to say that he doesn't pay a shitload of money in taxes; he does.  But this isn't about the numbers; it's about the percentages.  The GOP would love nothing more than for you to believe this latest line of bullshit they're spreading. But it's simply bullshit.

The bottom line is that anyone who thinks that Paul Roderick Gregory has refuted anything in this argument is simply wrong.  His arguments lack the substance of the strawman he pounded on today.

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