In another one of his “Groundhog Day” speeches earlier this week in the East Room, President Obama excoriated the Romney-Ryan budget plan, along with the Republican-led Congress, demanding extending the Bush tax cuts only for those making under $250,000.
Behind the President stood a dozen “ordinary” Americans, presumably middle-class citizens who make under $250,000.
With increasing frequency, the President has been using these live props, like extras from a movie or Vanna White on Wheel of Fortune.
While only 2% of households in the nation make over $250,000 (empirically not middle income) how did this become the dividing line for the President’s class warfare campaign?
Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center and the deputy assistant director for tax analysis at the Congressional Budget Office from 1998 to 2006 says, “there’s nothing magical about $250,000 per year. The very round nature of it suggests that it’s arbitrary. It has no economic basis.”
While the dividing line appears to have its genesis in 1993, when President Clinton created a new tax bracket at $250,000, and raised the rate to 39.6 percent, what isn’t mentioned by the President is exactly who these people are who make over $250,000 a year, the evil “millionaires and billionaires,” though that would make his math the greatest “rounding” since Columbus.
Are these people doctors, dentists and orthodontists, all of whom spend several hundred thousand dollars on 10-12 years of schooling and oftentimes come out with substantial debt that take years to pay off, and may not cross the magical $250,000 line until they have put in 15 years of hard work?
Is it the small business owner who took a second mortgage on his home, took out a substantial loan from a bank (good credit required) and whose wife worked full-time to build the business that employs 15 people, and who needed to forego salary for a decade to responsibly pay off debt before reaping the rewards of his sacrifice and risk.
Oh, and all these people purchased their own health care and contributed for their employees.
Those are the people who “built it.”
Certainly the people behind the President have been vetted, and presumably work hard in honorable professions.
Not standing behind the President is Dennis Van Roekel, president of the NEA, who receives $397,721 in salary and benefits, with 31 headquarter officers and employees who earn more than $200,000.
You won’t find Andy Stern in the background, the former president of SEIU, whose compensation was $306,388 before leaving for more lucrative work in 2010, or his replacement, Mary Kay Henry.
Is Gerald McEntee standing behind the Commander-in-Chief? In 2009, the president of AFSCME’s total compensation was almost $480,000.
The Teamsters president receives over $360,000 in annual compensation, but don’t count on seeing James Hoffa standing behind Obama. He’s a bit too recognizable.
Maybe Newton Jones was there in the East Wing.
Relatively anonymous, Mr. Jones, the president of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers received over $600,000 last year and a few family members and two other executives received pay in excess of $2 million.
First class travel, five-star hotels and expensive restaurants aren’t required to be listed in the total compensation for union leaders.
Oh yeah, and the unions are tax-exempt, as they are non-profits, and they will pour millions into Democratic coffers in the 2012 elections.
Life is good at the top.