If I Were a Rich Man

October 20, 2008
Posted by Jay Livingston

I’m probably too late here – the timer on Joe the Plumber’s fifteen minutes of fame may have already run out. Still, he was right to be worried about taxes. It turns out that he owes $1182 in back taxes.

But that’s not the concern John McCain used to turn his name into shorthand for the overtaxed worker. No, what Joe and John were worried about was that 3% increase once his income hits $250,000. To reach that level, Joe’s income would have to triple or maybe quadruple. Still, it’s never too soon to start complaining about taxes on the wealthy, and Joe wants to make sure that when he does reach the quarter-million mark, those tax rates won’t have increased.

Joe isn’t alone in his optimism. Over forty percent of men in Joe’s age range think that it’s likely they’ll become “rich.”

The 2003 Gallup poll found that optimism declined with age. And definitions of rich varied with income. Only those with incomes of $50,000 or more thought that to be rich you needed an income of at least $200,000. For middle-income people ($30-50K), $100,000 was rich.

McCain also took Obama to task for suggesting that it might be better to “spread the wealth around.” The right wing is screaming “socialist.” But more recent Gallup polls show that Americans aren’t all that opposed to redistribution.

Click on the graphs to see them large enough that you can read the titles.

If you believe the poll, you also shouldn’t be too worried that Obama’s tax proposal will cost him a lot of votes.

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