Streams

Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State

Friday, August 29, 2008

Democrats tend to win in wealthy states, while Republicans tend to get the votes of wealthy voters. Columbia statistics and political science professor Andrew Gelman explains American voting patterns, and debunks what he calls the myth of red America/blue America. His new book is Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State.

Guests:

Andrew Gelman

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Comments [8]

jeff burton from NYC

I sympathize with Mike. In NYC, what national politicians call "rich" barely pays the rent. Mike's income puts him in the top quintile (close to the top decile) of income earners in the US--so he is one of the people that many in Washington consider "affluent" and a source of funding for Govt programs. Here are the income breakpoints--also from 2006 data. Top 1%: > $388,000, Top 5% > $153,000, Top 25%, > $64,000. The problem, as Mike rightly points out, is that tax rates are far too high for a small portion of the population. The question I wish politicians of all stripes would answer is this--"what portion of any individual workers income do you think the government has the moral right to take"? More than 1/3 seems immoral to me.

Aug. 29 2008 06:31 PM
Mike from NYC

Also, with a borderline six-figure income in NYC, I pay roughly a third of my compensation in taxes. I am no where near wealthy and a third of my income is significant to me. Since people like me contribute what Jeff believes is an insignificant portion of the total Federal revenue, why not let people like me pay no taxes? With an increase that the very wealthy would consider insignificant, the shortfall could easily be made up.

Aug. 29 2008 04:50 PM
Mike from NYC

jeff burton from NYC answers Leonard: “Leonard asked, "why don't the poor 51% raise taxes on the other 49%". The answer is, THEY DO. The top 50% of the income distribution pay 97% of all income taxes while the bottom 50% pay only 3%. In essence, the bottom half have shifted the entire Federal income tax burden to the top 50%. You might also be interested to note that the top 1% pay 40% of all Federal income taxes, the top 5% 60% and the top 25% pay 86%. The myth of the middle class tax break is this: there is nothing to cut as the true middle class already pays next to nothing in taxes.”

Jeff’s information is also something of a myth. When the income tax was first enacted in 1913, less than 1% of the population paid tax. This was how the tax system was designed and intended. It is only because of inflation that anyone other than the very wealthiest pay income tax.

See: http://www.ustreas.gov/education/fact-sheets/taxes/ustax.shtml

Aug. 29 2008 04:39 PM
jeff burton from NYC

Leonard asked, "why don't the poor 51% raise taxes on the other 49%". The answer is, THEY DO. The top 50% of the income distribution pay 97% of all income taxes while the bottom 50% pay only 3%. In essence, the bottom half have shifted the entire Federal income tax burden to the top 50%. You might also be interested to note that the top 1% pay 40% of all Federal income taxes, the top 5% 60% and the top 25% pay 86%. The myth of the middle class tax break is this: there is nothing to cut as the true middle class already pays next to nothing in taxes. (Data compiled by Tax Payers foundation from IRS sources-2006 tax year). JJB

Aug. 29 2008 02:05 PM
al oof from brooklyn

where there are rich people (like ny) there are also poor people. if you break down by county, you see ny state as terribly red.

Aug. 29 2008 12:37 PM
hjs from 11211

toby
the founders had a 2 party system also.
we don't need to stick to that, but no one wants to do the work to build a multi party system. 2 parties are easier to deal with. instead of wasting time with nader every 4 years, smaller party supporters should focus on state legislative offices and offices in city governments, especially in gerrymandered one party districts.

Aug. 29 2008 12:22 PM
Andrew Gelman from http://redbluerichpoor.com

Actually, the evidence is that Democrats and Republicans in Congress are more extreme in distribution than the voters. See here for some graphs on this:

http://redbluerichpoor.com/blog/?p=14

Aug. 29 2008 10:57 AM
Toby

Why does the United States lack the full political spectrum, as found in most other western representative democracies, and basically has a very narrow spectrum clinging to the center?
There is really not a plurality of ideas, just some minor differences between the two parties. It isn't really what the founders wanted now is it?

Aug. 29 2008 10:20 AM

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