Magazine article Insight on the News

Washington's Peculiar Definition of the 'rich.'(Fair Comment)(Column)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Washington's Peculiar Definition of the 'rich.'(Fair Comment)(Column)

Article excerpt

Every year Forbes magazine publishes an issue dealing with the rich -- the millionaires and billionaires who have the most money that year. Meanwhile, back in Washington, liberals in Congress also are talking about "the rich" whenever anyone wants to lower taxes. Big taxers and big spenders always like to say there are "tax cuts for the rich."

The problem is that these two kinds of "rich" people are almost entirely different. Most of the people that the politicians and the media call "the rich" don't have even one-tenth of what it takes to make the Forbes list of the rich.

Millions of Americans who never would dream of considering themselves rich are included in the inflated statistics used by liberals when they claim that tax cuts are for the rich. Notice that liberals seldom tell you how much money it takes to be "rich" by their definition. And when they do tell you, the numbers they use are completely misleading.

According to a Heritage Foundation study, there are more than 4 million mechanics, repair people and construction workers who meet the Clinton administration's definition of rich. So do more than 8 million government employees at federal, state or local levels.

How do people who are making modest middle-class incomes suddenly become "the rich"? Let me count the ways. First of all, the statistics used include money that these people never receive. These estimates assume that income is being underreported, and they add 20 percent to whatever income you report. If you are a homeowner, they also add the amount of rent you would have to pay if you paid rent. Then they add more for the value of your life-insurance policies and the money in your pension funds.

You may not have realized how easy it is to be "rich" in Washington, even if it is very hard to be rich in Forbes magazine. Anybody can be rich if you add enough fictitious money to his actual income. As a result, anybody can be a demagogue who gets up in Congress and says that most of the tax cuts are "for the rich."

Let's go back to square one. The only people whose taxes can be cut are people who are paying taxes. Mostly that is the middle class. When these middle-class people are renamed "the rich," then of course there will be "tax cuts for the rich. …

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