The New York Times has a long, front-page article today headlined, "Rise of the Super-Rich Hits a Sobering Wall." The article reports, "The Obama administration has not proposed completely rewriting the rules for Wall Street or raising the top income-tax rate to anywhere near 70 percent, its level as recently as 1980." Somehow they missed that the Obama administration has proposed completely rewriting the rules for Wall Street ("Today, my administration is proposing a sweeping overhaul of the financial regulatory system, a transformation on a scale not seen since the reforms that followed the Great Depression.") And somehow they missed that the Rangel health care bill the White House backs would bring marginal rates in New York City up to 58.68%, which is near enough to 70 percent to make some people nervous.
The Times article concludes with the claim that in 2007, "The top 1 percent of earners took home 23.5 percent of the income, up from 9 percent three decades earlier." We generally think of "take home" pay as after-tax income. But the analysis upon which the Times relies is of pre-tax income. It also excludes government transfer payments such as unemployment insurance benefits and Social Security. That top 1 percent of earners pays 40.4% of the taxes, up from 24.8% in 1987.