Bashir Doesn’t Understand Numbers


MSNBC’s Martin Bashir argued Thursday that the rich have been getting richer and the poor have been getting poorer since 1979, but the numbers do not bear it out–from the very source he referenced.

Bashir cited the Congressional Budget Office to claim that pre-tax income for the top 1 percent rose $700,000 since 1979, while the bottom 90 percent’s pre-tax income fell by $900. But the latest CBO report, covering form 1979 to 2009, released in July 2012, shows the pre-tax income of every group growing.

The lowest quintile had the second highest growth rate, increasing by 35.06 percent, from $17,400 to $23,500. Although the highest quintile did grow at the fastest rate at 64.1 percent, every quintile saw growth, with the middle quintile growing by the slowest rate at 21.09 percent.

Bashir’s larger point, that the tax system is becoming less progressive, is also contradicted by the CBO report. The highest quintile saw their total average federal taxes decrease by the least since 1979, from 27.1 percent to 23.2 percent, a 14 percent decline. The lowest quintile saw the greatest decline in average federal taxes, from 7.5 percent to 1 percent, an 87 percent decline. The second quintile saw their average federal taxes fall by 53 percent, the middle quintile by 41 percent, and the fourth quintile by 30 percent.