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Saturday, October 09, 2004

At least three in the room, but the wrong three

Reader George Dunham emails me with a possible inaccuracy in Sen. Kerry's debate remarks (boldface added):

Now, for the people earning more than $200,000 a year, you're going to see a rollback to the level we were at with Bill Clinton, when people made a lot of money.

And looking around here, at this group here, I suspect there are only three people here who are going to be affected: the president, me, and, Charlie, I'm sorry, you too.

I'm not sure what non-salary income Sen. Kerry may expect for tax year 2004, nor of the terms of his prenuptial agreement with his current spouse, but his salary as a United States Senator is only $154,700.

However, regardless of the expected incomes of the general audience members, we can be relatively sure that there was at least one other person present besides President Bush and (probably) moderator Charlie Gibson of ABC News who will have income above $200,000 — someone whom Sen. Kerry seemed to have forgotten when he delivered the above-quoted line, but whom he clearly remembered in the moments after the debate ended:

Reuters' caption: 'Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry reaches to hug his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry following his second debate with U.S. President George W. Bush at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, October 8, 2004.'

Update (Sat Oct 9 @ 8:25pm): Pistol Pete of the blog Capital Ideas has a more thorough fisking of Sen. Kerry's debate statement.

Posted by Beldar at 02:48 PM in Humor, Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to At least three in the room, but the wrong three and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Forgot To Add One from Josh's Weblog

Tracked on Oct 9, 2004 4:12:46 PM


(1) Sue Bob made the following comment | Oct 9, 2004 4:02:40 PM | Permalink

This tax issue really torques me up. I don't know if Kerry is totally disingenuous--or so disconnected from the real world that he doesn't know. Most small businesses large enough to have some employees (like my firm) are Subchapter S corporations or sole proprietorships. The owners, therefore, pay personal income taxes instead of corporate income taxes. Because I cannot deduct every business expense I have, a lot of income that I never get to take home is attributed to me on my personal income tax return.

Kerry seems to believe (or professes to believe) that everyone who has reportable income at the $200,000 level is taking the money home and blowing it on yachts and designer clothes. That's such bull! People with small businesses go without a lot. In fact, one of the few things they have in great abundance is fear. Fear of not making payroll, fear of clients not paying. Fear of the government raising taxes causing them to have to layoff employees about whose welfare they have come to care about.

Raise my taxes and I will have to let non-billing staff go. And the irony is that all of them, but one, is a Democrat.

I think that a qualification for President should be past experience running your own business. Even if you run one badly, at least you learn something about the impact of taxes.

I better sign off now before I start cussing.

(2) Al made the following comment | Oct 9, 2004 5:17:10 PM | Permalink

According to the census, 1.6% of households in Missouri make more than $200,000.

Estimate of crowd: 500.
500x0.016 = 8.

Ignoring any effect of how the screening affected the pool, there should have been 8 people grossing more than $200,000 seated in a random crowd.

(3) Byron L made the following comment | Oct 9, 2004 5:33:07 PM | Permalink

Kerry made over $200,000 last year. In fact, if you're interested, the Kerry campaign will send you a copy of them. Here's an article about his tax returns:

Sen. John Kerry has made public his 2003 income tax returns, as he has for past 20 years.

In 2003, Sen. John Kerry had $395,000 in taxable income and paid $90,575 in federal income taxes. Kerry had $43,735 in charitable contributions.

Last year, Kerry wrote "A Call to Service," of which had $89,000 in proceeds. Kerry is paying the taxes on the proceeds from the book and is donating the balance to charity.

The tax return also shows $175,000 in capital gains, from the sale of one-half interest of a painting, which was reported last year.

(4) Beldar made the following comment | Oct 9, 2004 6:48:44 PM | Permalink

Byron, thanks for the link. Got one for Mrs. Heniz-Kerry's returns? Umm, no, thought not.

I admit to having been too lazy (and generally clueless about and averse to tax matters) to have been more specific in my original post, but with your prompt, I've confirmed that, indeed, Sen. Kerry's 2003 original and amended income tax returns show an adjusted gross income of $395,338. But of that, only $147,818 came from "wages, salary, tips, etc." A little over $12,000 came from dividends and interest. Both the $89,220 from the book royalties and the $145,805 capital gain from the painting sale were nonrecurring items. As to the latter, Sen. Kerry's half-interest is listed as having been acquired in May 1996, about a year after he married his current wife, for $500,000. Byron York speculates that this half-interest was a gift. There's nothing wrong with that, of course (note to rich heiresses: I'm single and available), and neither would there be anything wrong with Sen. Kerry selling off other gifted assets in 2004. As for the book royalties, A Call to Service is currently at Amazon.com sales rank 12,708, which doesn't seem to bode terribly well for future fair-market royalties. But most ordinary folks wouldn't rely on either of these types of items in describing their likely recurring earnings or income.

As for the charitable contributions — well, the Byron York article I've linked above shows that Sen. Kerry's past pattern of contributions is, to put it mildly, rather less flattering to him.

My implicit point, which I'll make more explicit, is that without THK and her resources, John Kerry isn't a $200,000+ earner. Again, there's nothing wrong with that. It just struck me as rather funny that the same guy who insists that he personally doesn't own an SUV so readily identifies himself with Mrs. Heinz-Kerry's fortune in the heat of a presidential debate.

(5) Cap'n DOC made the following comment | Oct 9, 2004 7:04:10 PM | Permalink

Yup. A CLOSE look at Senator Kerry's charitable donations over the years displays a rather startling pattern - Like, he gives charitable donations during Election cycles. Just about as often as he's a 'good' Catholic, which ain't very often. Oh yah, that would be the same election cycle.

(6) Webster made the following comment | Oct 9, 2004 8:43:16 PM | Permalink

John Kerry defined:

Main Entry: FLIP-FLOP
Pronunciation: 'flip-"fläp
Function: noun
1 : the sound or motion of something flapping loosely
2 : a backward handspring b : a sudden reversal (as of direction or point of view)
3 : a democratic presidential or democratic vice-presidential candidate in the 2004 presidential elections.
- flip-flop intransitive verb

Main Entry: WAFFLE
Function: intransitive verb
Inflected Form(s): waf•fled; waf•fling
Etymology: frequentative of obsolete woff to yelp, of imitative origin
2 : to talk or write foolishly : BLATHER (or RATHER of cBS)
3 : a democratic presidential and/or democratic vice-presidential candidate in the 2004 presidential elections.
waf•fler &r/ noun: John Kerry and/or John Edwards

Pronunciation: 'wi-shE-"wo-shE, -"wä-
Function: adjective
Etymology: reduplication of washy
1 : lacking in character or determination : INEFFECTUAL
2 : lacking in strength or flavor : WEAK
3 : a democratic presidential and/or democratic vice-presidential candidate in the 2004 presidential elections.
- wishy-wash•i•ness noun: see democrat

Main Entry: LI•AR
Pronunciation: 'lI(-&)r
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English lEogere, from lEogan to lie -- more at LIE
: see democrat

Main Entry: LIE
Function: verb
Inflected Form(s): lied; ly•ing /'lI-i[ng]/
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English lEogan; akin to Old High German liogan to lie, Old Church Slavonic lugati
intransitive senses
1 : to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive
2 : to create a false or misleading impression
3 : an act or action committed by a democrat
transitive senses : to bring about a false agenda by telling lies

Main Entry: DEM•O•CRAT
Pronunciation: 'de-m&-"krat
Function: noun
1 a : an adherent of a socialistic transition to communism b : one who practices transitional socialism with the final goal of communism
2 capitalized : a member of the U.S.S.R. (United States Socialist Republic)

Main Entry: WEDG•IE
Pronunciation: 'we-jE
Function: noun
1 : the condition of having one's clothing wedged between the buttocks especially from having one's pants or underpants yanked up from behind as a prank -- often used with get or give
2 : the democratic party's plan for the American people should John Kerry win the 2004 presidential election

Main Entry: PLAN
Pronunciation: 'plan
Function: noun
Etymology: French, plane, foundation, ground plan; partly from Latin planum level ground, from neuter of planus level; partly from French planter to plant, fix in place, from Late Latin plantare -- more at FLOOR, PLANT
1 : a drawing or diagram drawn on a plane: as a : a top or horizontal view of an object b : a large-scale map of a small area
2 a : a method for achieving an end b : an often customary method of doing something : PROCEDURE c : a detailed formulation of a program of action d : GOAL, AIM
3 : an orderly arrangement of parts of an overall design or objective
4 : a detailed program (as for payment or the provision of some service)
5 : something the democratic party falsely claims to have : see WEDGIE
- plan•less /-l&s/ adjective: see democrat
- plan•less•ly adverb: the actions of a democrat
- plan•less•ness noun: see democrat

(7) Tom Klein made the following comment | Oct 9, 2004 11:26:53 PM | Permalink

Actually, Kerry was probably right. I say probably, because without Teresa making her tax returns public I could not know for sure. However, Teresa, like most rich people, does not derive her income from a paycheck, so she is not paying taxes at the ordinart income tax rate, the rate Bush lowered and Kerry wants to increase. If her tax lawyers are any good - and there is no reason to believe that they are not - most if not all her income is sheltered, so she is paying taxes at a much lower rate. Since she is not paying taxes at the ordinary income tax rate, she did not benefit fom the Bush taxcut - remember, the tax cut for the richest Americans - and will not have to pay any more if her husband is elected and the ordinary income tax rate is raised.

(8) Hank Fenster made the following comment | Oct 10, 2004 3:12:01 PM | Permalink

Mark Steyn has a good take on this too:

Well, he has a point. Bush is a millionaire, Gibson's a zillionaire, and Kerry's a multi-gazillionaire. But how can you tell by looking at people that they earn under 200 grand? And, even if you can, is it such a great idea to let 'em know they look like working stiffs and chain-store schlubs? But, when you've married two heiresses, it's kinda hard to tell where the losers with mere six-figure incomes begin: it's like the 97-year-old who calls the guys in late-middle age "sonny". In America, quite a few fairly regular families earn 200 grand and an awful lot more families hope to be in that bracket one day. And, more importantly, the sheer condescension of assuming that the room divides into the colossi of the politico-media ruling class and everyone else sums up everything that's wrong with the modern Democratic Party.

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