Tuesday, June 10, 2008

That's Rich

Here's what CNBC commentator Maria Bartiromo had to say to the NY Post about Barack Obama's tax proposals:

"He's going to take the capital gains tax at 15 percent right now all the way up to 25 to 28 percent," the "Money Honey" tells Avenue. "Sell anything, like a home or stocks, and make a profit . . . [almost] 30 percent of the profit will go to the government instead of 15." The income tax is also in for a bump. Bartiromo says, "Right now [it] is 35 percent, Obama wants to take that to 39 percent . . . We're talking about people who make over $200,000. That's not rich. So it's actually going to impact more people than you may think."

Actually, people making over $200,000 are rich. According to Census figures, less than 5% of households have incomes over $200,000. Bartiromo isn't alone in her misconceptions about the distribution of income in the United States. During a Democratic debate in January, ABC's Charles Gibson suggested that families making over $200,000 are somehow average. In fact, the median household income in the US is only about $46,000.

Of course, both Bartiromo and Gibson make millions every year as do most of the people with whom they hobnob, so to them, $200,000 probably does seems like a middle class income if not downright pernuriousness. Still, as journalists, they do have an obligation to cite facts rather than their own impressionistic observations.

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