Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Yes, the economic geniuses of the Bush administration made the pie higher. No, you didn't get any:

Americans earned a smaller average income in 2005 than in 2000, the fifth consecutive year that they had to make ends meet with less money than at the peak of the last economic expansion, new government data shows.

... the average income in 2005 was $55,238, still nearly 1 percent less than the $55,714 in 2000, after adjusting for inflation, analysis of new tax statistics show.

...Total income listed on tax returns grew every year after World War II, with a single one-year exception, until 2001, making the five-year period of lower average incomes and four years of lower total incomes a new experience for the majority of Americans born since 1945....

The Bushies, of course, have been telling us for years that the economy is great and we're stupid if we don't notice it. Well, now that it's clear why we don't notice it -- we still don't have any more money than we used to have -- they say, "Oh, yeah, we knew that":

The White House said the fact that average incomes were smaller five years after the Internet bubble burst "should not surprise anyone."

...Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, attributed the drop in average incomes to "the significant wrenching hits that our economy took in 2001 and 2002, so no one should be surprised that what a bubble economy created in the late 1990s and 2000, where economic data were skewed, would take some time to recover."

There's just one tiny problem with this explanation: The rich somehow seem to have escaped the negative effects Tony Fratto is describing here:

The growth in total incomes was concentrated among those making more than $1 million....

These individuals, who constitute less than a quarter of 1 percent of all taxpayers, reaped almost 47 percent of the total income gains in 2005, compared with 2000.

People with incomes of more than a million dollars also received 62 percent of the savings from the reduced tax rates on long-term capital gains and dividends that President Bush signed into law in 2003, according to a separate analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice, a group that points out policies that it says favor the rich.

The group's calculations showed that 28 percent of the investment tax cut savings went to just 11,433 of the 134 million taxpayers, those who made $10 million or more, saving them almost $1.9 million each. Over all, this small number of wealthy Americans saved $21.7 billion in taxes on their investment income as a result of the tax-cut law.

Informed of this, Mr. Fratto harrumphs:

Mr. Fratto said the fact that nearly all of the growth in incomes was among those in the upper reaches of the income ladder and that the majority of investment tax breaks went to those making more than $1 million "is not a very interesting story."

Oh, gosh, I'm sorry. I'll try not to bore you next time by asking why your pals get all the pie.


UPDATE: I see Michael Van Der Galien is calling me "dumb" (or "dishonest") for writing this post. His point is that if real (non-inflation-adjusted) income fell only in 2001, then the Times is ignoring the fact that it went up in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 -- a Bush boom! Well, the point of the Times article is that real income went up in every other year since World War II -- even the bad ones. (Remember the '70s? The early '80s? The Poppy Bush recession?)

Now, follow along with me here: If real income went up in every year other than 2001, that means it went up in every five-year period (source: simple grade-school arithmetic). But in this five-year period, it didn't. That means not only was the drop unprecedented, but the gains since then have been too weak to make up for the unprecedented drop.

Van Der Galien doesn't think that's news?

And no, I don't accept that 9/11 Changed Everything -- not economically. The energy shocks of the '70s had a much greater sustained impact. And we've certainly fought wars before. And yet, through it all, real incomes rose every year. Why not in '01? And why not in the '01-'05 period?

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