One reading of the midterm election wave is that voters have concluded that President Obama ’s answer to falling incomes and slow growth—higher taxes on the rich and more redistribution—is tapped out. These policies have been up and running for six long years but the middle class is no better off as a result.
On taxes, Mr. Obama often claims that the rich don’t pay their “fair share,” yet the most affluent one-fifth of taxpayers on average supplied 68.7% of federal revenue for 2011. That’s according to the Congressional Budget Office, which last week updated its statistics on the U.S. distribution of income and taxes for 2011 and preliminary calculations for last year.
As for the top 1%, they funded 24% of everything the government does in 2011. The CBO also estimates that the end-of-2012 fiscal cliff deal that lifted the top marginal income tax rate to 39.6%, plus ObamaCare’s taxes on high-income individuals, increased their average federal taxes by 4.3 percentage points to 33.3% of income. The Warren Buffett minimum-tax rule asserted that no millionaire should pay an effective tax below 30%. Mission accomplished.
This has long been the reality of the highly progressive U.S. tax system, but the bigger news in the CBO numbers is that wealth is being spread with little to show for it. According to the CBO, the lowest 60% of earners all collect more in benefits on average than they remit to the Treasury. Yet even the supposed beneficiaries of Mr. Obama’s policies ended up with less in 2011 than 2007.