The presidential election has given us two myths about the rich. First, that their incomes, and income inequality, are at all-time highs. Second, that the wealthy pay less in taxes than ever, and lower taxes than the rest of us.
A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office, however, suggests that both may be false.
Let’s consider income first. Between 2007 and 2009, after-tax earnings by Americans in the top one percent for income fell 37 percent. On a pre-tax basis they fell 36 percent in the same period.
That may sound like a minor haircut for One Percenters compared to people who lost their jobs. But when you take into account federal transfers, assistance and taxes paid, the incomes of the bottom 20 percent grew by 3 percent, while it fell a modest 2 percent for the middle 20 percent.
In other words, the incomes of the top one percent fell 18 times more than the incomes for the middle class at the start of the recession.
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