President Obama has long advocated allowing the Bush income tax cuts that only benefit the wealthiest 2 percent to expire, while maintaining those that help everyone. And conservative media figures routinely respond to the prospect of higher taxes on the wealthy by arguing that the rich aren't actually rich, the latest being CNN's resident crotchety old man, Jack Cafferty.
Asking viewers of The Situation Room, "is it a mistake to raise taxes on the so-called wealthy?," Cafferty explained that "by [Obama's] definition, wealthy translates to couples making more than $250,000 a year, individuals making more than $200,000." He added:
Those numbers are very arbitrary, Wolf, depending where you live in this country. Two hundred thousand dollars, if you live in Manhattan, ain't all that much money. A couple hundred thousand dollars in Fargo would probably buy you half the town.
Cafferty claims two hundred thousand dollars "ain't all that much money" in Manhattan. According to a September 2009 NY Daily News article, census data show that "the median household income in NYC was $51,116 last year, slightly lower than the national average of $52,029. In Manhattan, it was $69,017." So half the households living in Manhattan make less than $69K, yet Cafferty thinks you can earn more than three times that amount and still not have "that much money"?
There's just no city you can go to in this country where an income of $250,000 isn't a lot higher than the vast majority of families, regardless of whether you know someone who makes even more.
FYI, here's what our national income distribution looks like (from Census Bureau data):
The ones in red are those who will see a less-large income tax cut next year, under Obama's plan. Cafferty can argue against that change, but he can't deny that those affected represent just 2 percent of taxpayers.
From the September 8 edition of CNN's The Situation Room: