Harper’s Index Numbers Show Small Business, Taxes And The Middle Class Getting Screwed… Again


Harper’s Magazine has released its March 2013 issue which includes an index for the first few months of the year. Some of the numbers are surprising, some are depressing. So let’s have a look, shall we?

Number of the 400 wealthiest Americans who count as small-business owners under House Republicans’ definition: 237 

You and I have an altogether different idea of what constitutes a “small business.” The Small Business Administration has a definition that I think is fair: independently owned and operated, profit-oriented, not dominant in its field, relatively small number of employees, relatively small sales volumes. Republicans, on the other hand, have a much different definition. To them, a small business has only one or two owners. You know, like NewsCorp or PricewaterhouseCoopers. Because the individuals claim the profits on their own taxes to avoid corporate taxes. So that means everyone from a part-time writer like me to President Obama fall under their definition of a “small business.” That’s how 237 of the richest 400 Americans can claim to be small business owners.

Percentage of the Bush tax cuts made permanent by the “fiscal cliff” compromise: 82

So, that’s good, right? Well, in the short-term it is. And God knows, the middle class sure needs that tax cut right now and for the foreseeable future. But over the long-term, it’s going to cost us about $4 trillion over the next decade.

Taxpayers in the middle quintile of the income distribution will get an annual income tax cut of $880 relative to what would have happened if the expiration of the old law had been maintained. Taxpayers in the top one per cent, those poor benighted souls who will be forced to pay the higher top marginal rate, will still benefit from the Bush rate on the first $400,000 of their income; each will save $17,840 relative to a world in which the Bush tax cuts had been allowed to lapse. (Source)

Portion of American households that will have a higher tax rate in 2013 as a result of the deal: 3/4

“How can this be?” you ask. We got those Bush tax cuts permanently. True, but there is another tax that we had a break on until the fiscal deal: the payroll tax. President Obama gave us all a break on those a couple of years ago, cutting them by 2%. That was really helpful for most of us, especially lower-middle income Americans. But that tax break went away as part of that deal, going back up by 2%. The Tax Policy Center notes that 66.9% of Americans who fall into that demographic – between $20,00 and $30,00 a year in income – pay more in payroll tax than they do in income tax. So the next time you hear that tired old meme about that bunch of slackers who don’t pay income taxes, be sure to toss that at it. The taxes that the lower-middle class do pay (payroll, sales, etc.) really work out to be a larger part of their income.

Percentage of likely voters who identified themselves as Tea Party members in 2010: 24. In 2012: 8

Ah, the Tea Party in decline. How that warms the hearts of Progressives and Liberals. Not because we dislike their “platform” as much as we despise their hypocrisy. We’ve always known that the Tea Party was a shill movement funded by the Koch Brothers and other big money concerns, but it’s good to see that some of the people who had been roped in by that are coming to their senses.

That’s just a sampling of the fascinating, enlightening and scary facts in this installment of Harper’s Index. I urge you to take a look for yourself and discover which ones interest you.

Photobucket      T. Steelman is a life-long Liberal. She has been writing online about politics since 2007. She lives in Western Washington with her husband, daughter, 2 cats and a small herd of alpacas. How can anybody be enlightened? Truth is, after all, so poorly lit…