Memo to Democrats:
Efffective immediately, please strike the phrase “top 1%” from all speeches, advertisements, interviews, magazine articles, op-eds, blog posts, press releases, campaign brochures, face-to-face conversations, and fortune cookies. According to a survey, 19% of the population thinks its income is in the top 1%. (Not surprising; 90% think they’re better-than-average drivers. We all live in Lake Wobegon.) And another 20% expects to be. [Here’s the David Brooks essay from which those numbers are drawn. Does anyone have a link to the poll itself?]
The group that will be getting 40% or more of the benefit if the Bush tax cuts become permanent should be described as “the $400,000-a-year crowd.” (Actually, the bottom limit of the top percentile is $373,000, but just make sure your poetic license is current.)
If your statistical soul won’t let you rest easy without a comparative number, you may call them “families earning more than six times as much as the median family.” But I think the raw number hits harder.
Here are the relevant tables, from Citizens for Tax Justice. By 2010, when the cuts become fully effective, the bottom cutoff of the top 1% will be more than $500,000 per year. Counting the estate tax repeal, CTJ estimates that that group will get more than half of the total benefits. (That number seems to be slightly hoked, since it leaves out the education tax breaks, which must be more evenly distributed.)