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To progressives, factual data is irrelevant

Dr. Paul Kengor's picture

I’ve only recently come to realize the nature of the hurdle this country faces in trying to turn around a stalled economy and horrendous deficit. Here it is: liberal Democrat politicians have fully convinced huge numbers of people that our economic/fiscal mess is the result of two principal demons: 1) “the rich” and 2) the Tea Party. The former, of course, has been a longtime liberal scapegoat; the latter is a new one.

I’ve realized this painfully in the last few weeks as a result of several commentaries I’ve done (USA Today, FoxNews, among others), viewed by a large portion of Americans from across the political spectrum. In these commentaries, I tried to stick to statistics and facts. I naively thought my approach would be convincing. It was not, as evidenced by the many people I continue to argue with in emails.

Here today, I’ll reiterate the one fact that I thought was irrefutable:

As I noted in an article titled, “It’s the spending, stupid,” the federal government, from 1965-2009, never cut spending one single year. That’s right, not one time — nope, nada, nothing.

To repeat: from 1965-2009, the federal government never decreased annual spending.

To see the figures on a chart is eye-opening. The annual rise in spending has been a steady, non-stop, unbroken, upward climb for over 40 years.

To the contrary, revenues to the federal government have gone up and down, the result — not of tax rates on “the rich,” but — of the status of the economy from year-to-year, especially during recessions.

It’s both amazing and depressing to see that the federal government, unlike you and your family and your household and your business and your anything and everything else, is apparently incapable of adjusting (i.e., decreasing) its spending based on available revenues.

It used to do so, under both Democrat and Republican presidents, but that changed in 1965, when the federal government, starting with the Great Society, began an outright spending addiction.

As I noted in the article, seeing this for yourself is as easy as Googling “historical tables deficit,” where one can view two sources: CBO historical tables (Congressional Budget Office)and OMB historical tables (Office of Management and Budget).

These are the official sources for data on federal budgets. In the OMB link, look at Table 1.1, titled, “Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits: 1789-2016.”

In my articles and emails, I even included hyperlinks (as I have here) to these tables, imploring people to look for themselves rather than accept my word.

And yet, I can’t begin to recount the angry emails I got from people insisting that the reasons for our deficits/debt is not over-spending by the federal government but greed by wealthy people who don’t pay “their fair share” of income taxes and by dastardly “racist” “terrorists” in the Tea Party.

And, yes, I actually got emails (many of them) from people insisting that Tea Party members are “terrorists.”

To observe an American public, only a decade removed from Sept. 11, somehow equating Tea Party members with “terrorists” leaves me almost speechless and hopeless.

I will not bother responding to that particular smear, but I would like to address the charge that the rich are not paying “their fair share.” Again, I will stick to data.

If you Google the words “Who pays income tax?” you will find a chart (click here) from the National Taxpayers Union. It includes these telling statistics:

The top 1 percent of income earners pay 38 percent of all federal tax revenue. The top 5 percent pay 59 percent. The top 10 percent pay 70 percent. The top 25 percent pay 86 percent. The top 50 percent pay 97.3 percent. Conversely, the bottom 50 percent pay merely 2.7 percent of all federal tax revenue.

As the data shows, the rich are certainly paying their fair share. In fact, they pay the vast share. The poorest Americans, conversely, pay literally nothing in income taxes.

If anything, the system is disproportionately titled against the wealthy. Our “rich” are paying for the reckless behavior of politicians addicted to spending; they are subsidizing spending addicts.

And to watch those addicts blame their mess on the rich for not paying enough? It’s downright obscene.

But the folks who have emailed me have the complete opposite opinion. It is an incorrect opinion.

Let me repeat: America’s deficit/debt problem is a spending problem. It is not the fault of rich people who pay too little income tax or Tea Party members guilty of “terrorism.” Don’t take my word for it. Look at the data.

My fear, however, is that the data just doesn’t matter to a huge number of followers of the party line. And that’s a very serious problem for this country, a giant propaganda hurdle that may be insurmountable.

[Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City (Penn.) College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values ( His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism,” and his latest release, “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”]


At one you you quote number from "CBO historical tables (Congressional Budget Office)and OMB historical tables (Office of Management and Budget)" for surplus and deficit. OK.

Then you start singing the blues about the plight of rich people.
I went to the Nation Tax payers Union to look and see who run the organization.

I didn't bother looking at the stats.

But the IRS has a nice stats page. And I am no statistical but the IRS numbers are not even close to the numbers quoted here. You can see:
"All Returns: Selected Income and Tax Items" "Classified by: Size and Accumulated Size of Adjusted Gross Income
Published as: Individual Complete Report (Publication 1304), Table 1.1" for years 1996 to 2009.

And how to get from IRS numbers to Nation Tax Union numbers is a mystery.

Almost three quarters of all americans think the very wealthy do not pull their weight when it comes to paying income taxes. And rightly so.

The rich got a tax discount under George Bush with the assumption that it would lead to job creation but since it passed, there were fewer jobs created than any time since the end of WWII until the discount was passed.

So either use the piles of money to create jobs, or ante up on the income going into the pockets. But please stop wasting our time with phoney statistics.


Observerofu's picture

The stats are accurate and have been out there for everyone to see since 2008.

Like you said " I am no statistical".

"Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt"
-Samuel Adams
Illegitimi non carborundum

not sure why I bother with you, but as you are aware the tax rate of a person making $50,000 is higher on a percentile basis than a person earning over a million.

Not sure why folks such as yourself and this far right sitting columnist don’t understand the facts. The more money millionaires make does not equate into more jobs for Americans. It has not happen since Bush tax cuts where initiated and will not in the future. The Trickledown effect is not improving the job market nor balancing the budget.

Then there is simple economics that you and your cronies refuse to here. You can't balance the budget on spending cuts alone. There has to be a revenue increase with spending cuts to make it happen. Rating agencies have said this time and time again. The GOP refused the revenue increase and allowed the credit rating of the US to go downward. What more can the American people say to get folks like you to pass ECON. Class 101

Observerofu's picture

instead of talking points.

Tman who owns the businesses? Are they poor or are they wealthy? Do poor people HIRE anyone tman? Now unless you want the Government to confiscate all wealth and run the businesses then your argument makes little sense.

If you really believe that the person making $50k pays more in tax than the person making a Mil show us the IRS tables that prove your argument.

Oh wait you can't because those tables don't exist.

Even the Associated press figured out that you "the rich don't pay their fair share" progressives are wrong...

<cite>WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama makes it sound as if there are millionaires all over America paying taxes at lower rates than their secretaries.
“Middle-class families shouldn’t pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires,” Obama said Monday. “That’s pretty straightforward. It’s hard to argue against that.”
The data tell a different story. <strong>On average, the wealthiest people in America pay a lot more taxes than the middle class or the poor, according to private and government data. They pay at a higher rate, and as a group, they contribute a much larger share of the overall taxes collected by the federal government.</strong>
There may be individual millionaires who pay taxes at rates lower than middle-income workers. In 2009, 1,470 households filed tax returns with incomes above $1 million yet paid no federal income tax, according to the Internal Revenue Service. That, however, was <strong>less than 1 percent of the nearly 237,000 returns with incomes above $1 million.</strong></cite>

Tman you also can't force people to pay more taxes when the Government in it's current corrupt form will just waste the money forcibly taken.

You can steal every dime of all Millionaires in this Country tman and it will not even pay for the deficit spending of this administration for more than 1 year.

So it is the spending tman not just revenue.

You might want to learn Econ 101 before you actually try to state facts from it.

"Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt"
-Samuel Adams
Illegitimi non carborundum

kcchiefandy's picture point and blame someone else; scapegoats abound in this currently difficult economy - envoking 'the wealthy' as the demons is a historically proven tool of the Pols (Huey Long, Lenin, Obama, Debs, Castro, and on and on...). I blame the politicians, on both sides, for most of this mess. I should probably join the Tea Party...

Observerofu's picture

we have let it happen.

We deserve the Government that we get.

"Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt"
-Samuel Adams
Illegitimi non carborundum

[quote]We deserve the Government that we get.[/quote]

True. I think we have forgotten that WE are the government - and we have turned it over to persons who do not feel that it is necessary to represent us because WE DO NOT VOTE! Therefore special interests have controlled our representatives. If over 50% of the populace voted, no amount of 'money' could own those who represent us in 'government'.


To blame one party for our big fix,
Can at best simply trade politicians.
The problem really lies with the mix.
The war of the peasants and patricians.

Our 3000 years of modern social history,
Has taught us nothing of proper sharing.
Those things we do improve, we destroy.
Mistakes are made and approved as daring.

There's no way to share everything evenly.
Individual opinion and loss of initiative,
Would prove such efforts as being slovenly.
But as in all things,a minimum is constant.

Sharing some minimum with those in great need,
Or to the Capitol with forks and torches, indeed.

"Show us the IRS tables" you say!

Just who are you trying to bamboozle with that statement?

There are no tables that show every one's net tax paid! You know that.

Many, many businesses and millionaires incomes pay little if any tax no matter what the table say.


Do you really have any idea just what the dollars would be for taxes if corporations and high earners actually did pay what those tables indicate on gross income??? We could pay off the debt if they paid on gross income.


Many people making an average wage in this country do pay more dollars in taxes than does tens of thousands of high wage earners!!!

They can raise rates until they are blue in the face and the rich (and corporations) will use the tax code to their advantage. A simple tax code whether it be "Fair Tax" or "Flat Tax" that gets rid of loopholes is the way to it would reduce a big budget item the IRS..

The United States has a Democratic President so Democrats are blamed for our poor economy.

But in Georgia we elect a Republican Governor and Republican legislature but they are not blamed for any of the bad economic times.

What have the Georgia Republicans done to create jobs here? What have they done to alieviate Georgia poverty which is one of worst in the nation? What have they done to improve the educational level here which is also one of worst in the United States?

Georgia Republicans do nothing but blame President Obama. How PATHEIC!!


Cyclist's picture

[quote=lion]What have the Georgia Republicans done to create jobs here? [/quote]

Well given the fact that Georgia's unemployment rate is better than 8 other states - 6 of which are controlled by Demos - I would dare say we are better off.

[quote=lion] What have they done to alleviate Georgia poverty which is one of worst in the nation? [/quote]

Poverty in Georgia is 37th of the 51 reported - includes DC. Many states that are worst than Georgia are controlled by the Demos.

[quote=lion]What have they done to improve the educational level here which is also one of worst in the United States? [/quote]

54% of the Georgia budget is dedicated to education. This state is pouring money into this bucket and what do we get.....testing scandals.

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

1. Better than 8 other states out of 50? That does not answer the question - and no citizen of any state should be content with that rating.

2. You did not answer the question. Why would any state want to have 13 states outrank them? Certainly the citizens of any state are not happy with that ranking - and should not be happy with the U S ranking in the world.

3. Not every city/school district has been found guilty of cheating on the test. Why the low ranking? Why the resistance to upgrading the profession of teachers? This is not just a Georgia problem - but also a problem of every state in the union. Georgia is at the bottom. Why? Lion's questions are good questions - and your none-answers are representative of what is wrong with the 'political' thinking of today. We need answers - not excuses or non-solutions. There are students/teachers/ citizens in Georgia who have accomplished much. Some are products of public schools; some are products of private schools. Some are products of home schooling. The problem is there are not enough of these students/teacher/citizens to raise the level of education in the state of Georgia. Are Georgians comfortable with being at the bottom? Is there no desire to improve? Are Americans comfortable with other countries doing a better job of educating the students/future of their respective countries?

NUK_1's picture

in boycotting Georgia! The poster boy for Michelle's anti-obesity campaign(Kids don't grow up to be fat and lacking a shred of intelligence or integrity like Michael Moore)is fuming mad and ready to put down his fork and maybe he even take his hat off and have a shower for once, he's so angry at the "racists" and "killers" who run GA.

hutch866's picture

A few years ago, one of the people on here I have the most respect for, good old Jeff Carter, told me the President owned all the blame, no matter who the fault belonged to. Who knew?

I yam what I yam

That the legislative branch of the government would just lie down and do nothing in order to unseat a president? We have three branches - and the legislative branch has failed. . . and continues to fail. In the past, there were conservatives and progressives in both parties - and they talked with each other - not AT each other. Somehow, things got done. This latest fiasco with FEMA is unconscionable. Let's see what happens. In the meantime, the debates are uncovering more than we need to know. Obama threw Israel under the bus? Did anyone listen to the leader of Israel? God help us if any one of the Republican candidates gets on the world stage with their lack of knowledge or understanding of world politics. Their comments made a nice sound bite in an attempt to agitate the Jewish vote - but fell flat after the speech by the leader of Israel -AND the speech of the Palestinian leader - AND THE SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

hutch866's picture

Hit all the talking points you want, your Dems are just as guilty as the Repubs. I'm going to stick with Jeff's statement.

I yam what I yam

Not talking points - just sharing thoughts. It's time to stop the blaming and move towards getting out of this mess.

NUK_1's picture

"We will never recognize the Jewish state." That was yesterday while talking to some of his fellow stone-ager Arabs. I imagine he got a ton of "Praise Allah's!" for that one.

Yeah, I can see why we'll never have peace in the Middle east when you have both Israel and losers like Abbas being pigheaded 24/7 and not seeing the forest through the trees.

What Abbas doesn't seem to realize or doesn't care about is that the US and Israel can basically starve them to death if they feel like it at anytime because they have no money and are highly distrusted by a lot of countries since they would rather align themselves with Hamas and other losers than actually work towards getting a Palestine state established. The UN may have to take a hit also for it.

This is a very fluid situation. Don't make assumptions based on one or two statements.

US just sent 'bunker bombs' to Israel to 'protect ' against Iranian threats - and appease the Jewish vote. Who knows what is going on behind the scenes. . . . not you or me!

You can't fool me!

A "fair tax" would eliminate loopholes for corporations alright, but would also eliminate any taxes they now pay!

There are no loopholes in gains income, just 15-20% tax. Just like Joe the Plumber.

The guys making $250,000 pay no tax, and buy about the same things to survive with as does Joe the Plumber. They would have a lot left over for cars and yachts and homes! Joe, nothing.
Everyone can not be an executive--only so many openings.


Close the carried interest Loophole's for hedge fund and investment thieves and other loophole's that millionaires use. There are many loopholes that folk's with allot of money can use to skirt tax payments.

Can we balance the budget and get our credit rating back with just spending cuts? Please tell the rest of us how it's done old wise one

NUK_1's picture

The only time the 50K guy pays a higher percentage/tax bracket is IF the rich guy is not receiving any kind of salary and is getting paid solely by dividends, capital gains, etc. That rate is lower than the ordinary income rate as Warren Buffet rather infamously stated, which led to a whole lot of confusion. However, that money has also already been taxed once when it was earned at the higher percent and then is actually taxed again so Buffet only told about half the reality/truth. In fairness to him, I don't think he ever believed when he said what he did that suddenly it would be all over the media 24/7 and if he had known he MIGHT have chosen his words differently.

Observerofu's picture

Excellent article.
Let me be the first to say "I feel your pain".

I have been pounding that drum here for, well, a year at least.
No matter the actual data, no matter how many unbiased sources linked to. no matter how many undeniable facts used, the mindset of the Liberal Democrat is to mired in ideology to accept these basic facts. They just can not do it.

They will deny, obfuscate and then attack the messenger personally without ever refuting a single fact used. Frustrating at best.

Generally I hear, but Bush did it too or Reagan or Hitler was a Republican, ok that last one I threw in, but I have been called a Jew loving anti-Semite, a black hating, black racist and a Charles Manson wanna be all for simply speaking the truth.

The Liberal mindset is too ridged to accept that they may be wrong, don't get me wrong many Republicans share the same similarities, they just seem to be as prevalent.

The fact is the "Rich" is just another whipping boy for the failed policies of this administration. It's the old don't blame me for my decisions it was their fault.

We saw this when the Democrats held both the House, Senate and the Presidency, but when the Democrats failed to vote for the Presidents agenda it was the Republicans fault they became the party of NO.

I said it often then.. The Republican party could not stop a bus even if they wanted to. They had no power but yet the Media and other Democrats sold the "Party of No" theme very well.

"Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt"
-Samuel Adams
Illegitimi non carborundum

He is full of IT~!

His top this and top that are totally inaccurate! He doesn't even consider the people who are retired, in the military, in jails, hospitals, are disabled, etc., who do pay taxes but are not included in his numbers.

He, and the rest of that bunch of dictators at the PA farm there, are distinctly "dribble down" theorists.

Much of the taxes paid by the "rich" comes from their vast holdings of stuff that gets taxed at 15%.

You do know that 15% of a hundred million dollars is a lot more money than Joe Schmoe pays on his $45,000 per year? Mr. Schmoe pays about 15% taxes.

Tell me one individual who pays more than 20% net taxes on a $250,000 salary. (The % tables mean nothing if applied to NET taxable!)

Maybe you simply can't understand what "fair" means!

Starve the peons and they will come with the pitch forks---Napoleon.

Observerofu's picture

The talking points have all been laid out. All have been destroyed in credibility.

You can argue until the cows come home that Millionaires and Billionaires pay less tax as a percentage then a plumber and you would still be wrong. On your misstated $250k example it would depend on where the "Salary" came from. Was it Commission sales. Was it a Capital asset? Was it Corp earnings? etc etc You are not alone in not being able to understand the "Progressive" tax system. Many in Government can't do it either.

If you can't figure that out for yourself after all of the evidence from Government sources then you are hopeless and not worth arguing with.

"Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt"
-Samuel Adams
Illegitimi non carborundum


Pls provide a source for your statement that "we have just sent bunker bomss to Isreal"---historically, we have refused to provide those to other countries and even if we did, it wouldn't be publically announced--you got some special source? Just dont't tell me it's the "Puffington Host"!

There are many sources affirming the "bunker" bombs from USA to Israel.

Check yesterdays "New York Times."

Bush started these negotiations in 2005 and so far 55 have been provided.

They are not atomic bombs, just deep penetrating bombs. Israel has asked for them many years.

We protect Israel for one reason only---they are our bastion in the middle east, otherwise we would have to be there permanently.

It seems that too many Americans do not understand world relations in the least. I'm sure Mr Bush discussed this with Obama when he was elected.


BU,bu,bu, bomb those who irritate.
Bu,bu,bu, bomb those who hog oil.
Send in the Drones to agitate,
Those who by their dress, us roil.

Ship cash dollars on full skids,
Let a Sergeant unbundled and spread.
A million here, there using no bids.
No records be kept of money or dead.

Several thousand we lost by vengeance,
Many tens of thousands were wounded.
The destruction we did do with diligence.
To them for years we sorely pounded.

Yet, nothing has changed from the start.
The 7000 year old Eden hangs on the heart.

Observerofu's picture

is the source for all well informed Progressive thinkers.

Doesn't matter how many times their "journalism" has been found to be shall we say false. It makes these guys feel better about themselves to have their views justified.

"Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt"
-Samuel Adams
Illegitimi non carborundum

..........or is it the lack of income? Why does the debt exist? One can not allow expenditures without income.

What would be the point of cutting old age retirement funds; health costs for the aged and poor; unemployment funds for 25% of the population; causing the defense department to stop in-progress defenses and research for new; put the other cabinet systems on basic hold (VA,Ed.;Interior protection;law and order; treasury; agriculture (destroying certain balances); etc.

Growth of the government can be slowed in hard times, but it is not the time to put more out of work!

Look for the income and collect it temporarily!

Observerofu's picture

The Government never gives back what it takes.

No the answer is a balanced budget amendment stop the spending before you increase taxes.

What good will it do to take in more revenue if they just spend more of it. To pay debt roundone you have to first stop spending then work on increasing revenues.

Revenues will however increase once Government stops standing in the way of this economy.

"Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt"
-Samuel Adams
Illegitimi non carborundum

So you would cut deeply immediately all of those funds I mentioned?

Even military pensions, states grants from Washington, Education, etc.

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