September 12, 2008

Biden has only been giving 0.06% - 0.31% of his adjusted gross income to charity.

Obamas does substantially better at 5.8% - 6.1%, but it's still really stingy compared to McCain who is way up in the 27.3% - 28.6% range. Is this out of whack with political ideology? I say no! Conservatives believe private charity should bear more of the burdens of caring for the unfortunate and other good works. Liberals want to see government do more, and we're expected to pay taxes to pay for it. I see no hypocrisy here at all.

162 comments:

Revenant said...

Then again, conservatives donate more money privately despite also being forced to "donate" money via taxation. The two would only be equivalent if economic conservatives could opt out of paying for the government programs they think charity ought to be covering.

Rich B said...

But Ann, since liberals are always complaining that we don't spend (or tax) enough, shouldn't they be willing to add a little personal oomph to charity?

john said...

I see no hyprocrisy here at all.

Neither does a pickpocket, Ann.

Lets see if I have this correct: The republicans want to see more private charity and vote for that with their wallets. The democrats want to see more public charity and vote for that at the polls. So, do the democrats pay more taxes to make it fair?

rdkraus said...

The difference is, to simplify, conservatives think it's charitable to donate some of their time or money to charity. Liberals think it's charitable to tax other people and use their money for "charity."

Aside from philosophical differences, as Milton Friedman would teach, you'll spend your own money (even on charity) alot more carefully than person A will spend person B's money on person C.

Peter V. Bella said...

You are right. Neither side is being a hypocrite. They are practicing what the preach.

The problem and hypocrisy lies with the believers.

rhhardin said...

Charity, for Augustine, meant thinking the best of others, a meaning it still has, but way down the list. That's the meaning with soul-saving qualities, however.

It came to mean money owing to a strange reversal.

Pete the Streak said...

At least with the conservative view, I get to choose who receives my money.

Not so with the liberal model. I already know my tax money goes as grants to 'brilliant' artists such as Karen Finley and Andres Serrano.

Ugh. Thanks for nothing.

Simon said...

I agree with what's been said in the post and comments, but I must point out that percentages of gross income can be misleading (although they may not be here). The more money you have, the more of it is disposable income and thus the more one can give to charity. A person who lives on $20,000 per year who gives 2% of their gross to charity may well be doing a far greater act of charity than is McCain's giving away 25%+. Now, I have no idea whether this applies here - I have no idea how much Biden, Obama and McCain make - but I think it's important to note that (to paraphrase Bob Reich) percentages don't always reveal the most telling realities.

vbspurs said...

"Biden has only been giving 0.06% - 0.31% of his adjusted gross income to charity."

I wouldn't be too hard on Joe. He is one of the poorest members of Congress, who along with his wife reported a comparative pittance at $350,000. Maybe that's a lot for me, and most of us, but given his expenditure as a Senator, with all that entails, it's not a lot.

Similarly, the Palins combined income is a TITCH over $200,000. What is their charitable record like?

Cheers,
Victoria

Ann Althouse said...

Liberals don't like the idea that the giver is manifesting charity. Rather we all have the obligation and the obligation should be paid in proportion to our wealth. They also think the do-gooding should be planned and run by government experts, not according to what private individuals think is worth supporting.

Conservatives like the decentralized, private, voluntary set-up. And they don't trust or want the government running everything.

It's pretty easy. That's why I'm saying the percentages don't at all represent hypocrisy.

mcg said...

The term "hypocrisy" has been watered down to near meaninglessness these days. I agree that this is not an example of hypocrisy.

What about the case of Massachusetts residents like John Kerry who have the opportunity to optionally pay higher state taxes, but consistently decline?

MadisonMan said...

Given that the Obamas and Palins are saving $$ for college educations, I'll not be judging them at all on what they give away.

Zeb Quinn said...

Another difference is that of the conservatives who give, they do it freely, they give and give and give, but liberals give only that which the government demands and takes from them at gunpoint. When was the last time you heard of any liberal anywhere getting into the giving spirit and offering up to government an amount over and above whatever minimum tax their tax return said they owed?

Hoosier Daddy said...

Conservatives believe private charity should bear more of the burdens of caring for the unfortunate and other good works. Liberals want to see government do more, and we're expected to pay taxes to pay for it. I see no hypocrisy here at all

Well therein lies the difference between conservatives who take the pro-choice position of how their money is spent versus the liberal mindset of 'we know better than you how it should be spent.'

That sums up in a nutshell why I'm a conservative.

torrey said...

I remember circa 2000 - Gore gave $400 whole dollars to charity.

Weather or not you are a socialist/redistributionist - That's just cheap.

Jeremy said...

I've oft heard liberal-leaning folks say that if higher taxes meants that some poor family could finally get insurance then "please, take some more of my money." But no one's stopping you from overpaying your taxes and not collecting a refund. Maybe that's what Biden is doing? Overpaying his taxes?

The Drill SGT said...

reminds me of a related story of donations after the Indonesia flooding. The UN weenie complained that US was cheap because the EU gave more cash to the UN relief efforts than had the US. It was pointed out by conservatives that he was ignoring the facts that:

- the UN was slow, corrupt, and had huge overhead costs
- the US government had arrived on scene with thousands of sailors, whose contribution wasn't through the UN
- private US contributions were something like 8 times the EU donation to the UN

dale said...

It’s easy to be generous when you’ve got 14 homes. Biden’s the second least wealthy member of the Senate. He didn’t marry the heiress to a beer distributorship. Maybe he’s not stingy, just unsure of where he’ll spend his dotage… especially if the Republicans win and privatize Social Security!

krylovite said...

There's no requirement that charitable giving be taken as a tax deduction. Anyone who assumes that all donations to charity are listed on income tax forms doesn't understand tax law and/or the act of charity.

Fen said...

Conservatives like the decentralized, private, voluntary set-up. And they don't trust or want the government running everything.

But you're missing a key point: restribution hurts charity because people grow to believe that The Government is helping those that used to rely on charity: "why do I need to do charity work when I'm already paying the government to do it for me?".

Its a reversal:

Andrew Berman said...

In fairness, McCain has a lot more money.

Al Gore giving almost nothing-- that's a big deal.

Fen said...

The UN weenie complained that US was cheap because the EU gave more cash to the UN relief efforts than had the US

I don't know if you followed up on it, but it turned out the EU didn't even give the cash they promised.

Paul Zrimsek said...

We should probably tread warily when interpreting these married-filing-separately returns. There may be good tax reasons for attributing all the giving to one spouse or the other.

flair said...

> I think America’s greatest moral failure in my lifetime has been that we still don’t abide by that basic precept in Matthew that whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me, and that notion of — that basic principle applies to poverty. It applies to racism and sexism. It applies to, you know, not having — not thinking about providing ladders of opportunity for people to get into the middle class. There’s a pervasive sense, I think, that this country, as wealthy and powerful as we are, still don’t spend enough time thinking about the least of us.
-- Barak Obama, Saddleback

As long as Obama *says* everyone else's heart should bleed, his wallet needn't actually bleed!

In failing to lead by example, Obama resembles the Pharisee in the parable of the Widow's Mite:

http://www.bookrags.com/wiki/Lesson_of_the_widow's_mite

: the tale is typically understood by Christians as a condemnation of the rich as they are described, for their inflated self importance displayed by the ostentatious announcements of their own generosity

I'm reminded of Obama's admonition that our kids should learn Spanish, and perhaps French, yet Obama doesn't speak Spanish himself!

Bottom Line: In a Socialist world, people who hold "the right" opinions cannot commit hypocrisy.

maggielomas said...

I agree about the philosophies of liberals and conservatives, but there is one other thing at play here. Cindy McCain's millions dwarf Michelle Obama's salary, and Jill Biden's salary. It's easy to give your money away when your spouse is covering most expenses.

I'm not trying to diminish the charity the McCain's have given (they talk the talk, pay the piper, and walk the walk in their service to the country and the world) but I think it's unfair to make a direct financial comparison with the other couples.

Athena DePaul said...

I've got a problem with it insofar as they're paying taxes below the rates that they expect others to pay to fund their programs.

I'm basing that on this argument from Megan McCardle last February that I found persuasive.

"the argument I heard over and over again: that it's perfectly rational to think that you should pay higher taxes, but only if other people do, because taxation is somehow a collective action problem.
. . .
People who say they want higher taxes on themselves generally think the government does not have enough money to do the things it is already doing; as long as you think the government has a better (in some moral sense) use for the money than you do, then you have a moral obligation to send it in."

Sorry, don't know how to link this. http://meganmcardle.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/02/tax_me_more.php

krylovite said...

liberals give only that which the government demands and takes from them at gunpoint.

Hey Althouse, where the hell do you get these goofy commenters from?

If you check the link, Obama gave almost a quarter of a million in charitable gifts last year. Hillary Clinton gave three million last year. John McCain gave about $100,000 last year. That puts McCain BEHIND the two liberals in charitable giving. Stop making stupid generalizations about liberals and conservatives based on a handful of tax returns that you didn't even bother to examine.

Original Mike said...

I agree with Simon's comments re: percentage vs. absolute and with MM re: Obama and Palin, but My God, Joe! What's up with that?!?!? 0.1% of $350,000 is 350 bucks.

AJ Lynch said...

Ten years equates to a "handful of returns"? That is news to me- ten years seems like a more than reasonable sample.

To be fair to Biden, could he possibly left off his church donations? Most churches have a "miniumum recommended donation"" and Biden could not have met that type of hurdle based on his tax returns.

If his returns are accurate, he is a tightwad.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I agree with Simon's comments re: percentage vs. absolute and with MM re: Obama and Palin, but My God, Joe! What's up with that?!?!? 0.1% of $350,000 is 350 bucks.

Oh cut the man some slack for Obama's sake. Do you know how much hair plugs cost?

Fen said...

If you check the link, Obama gave almost a quarter of a million in charitable gifts last year

I don't think you're allowed to count contributions to Rezko or Saddam bag-man Auchi as "charitable gifts"

holdfast said...

How much of Obama's giving was to fund Rev Wrights? hate church?

Simon said...

flair said (quoting Obama)...
"'There’s a pervasive sense, I think, that this country, as wealthy and powerful as we are, still don’t spend enough time thinking about the least of us.'"

I think there's a compelling case to be made that Jesus directed his followers to help the poor and give to charity. There's no case at all to be made that Jesus directed his followers to enact laws forcibly extracting money from followers and nonbelivers alike to be given to whatever the government deems a charitable cause.

krylovite said...

Ten years equates to a "handful of returns"?

Yeah, if you're going to draw broad conclusions about charitable giving by liberals and conservatives, a database consisting of ten tax returns by a guy in New Jersey isn't much to generalize from.

Original Mike said...

Do you know how much hair plugs cost?

Can't say that I do.

Jim Howard said...

Yet again we see that Obama and Biden are modern day Pontius Pilates.

Whereas people like McCain and Palin try to persude others to help the poor by their personal examples, Obama and Biden want to send the Centurions out to whip the masses into obeying them and paying up for the empire's pet projects.

Fen said...

How much of Obama's giving was to fund Rev Wrights? hate church?

I prefer to call it the Trinity "madrassa". Hatred of America, hatred of whites, hatred of Jews. They have so much in common.

Dr Cone, Obamafan and champion of Black Liberation Theology pointing to Trinity as the archetype of BLT:

"Black Liberation Theology will only accept the love of a God that participates in the destruction of the White enemy"

Three guesses where Obama lost me.

AJ Lynch said...

Kryvolite:

How about if the guy is from Delaware? :)

krylovite said...

There's no case at all to be made that Jesus directed his followers to enact laws forcibly extracting money from followers and nonbelivers alike to be given to whatever the government deems a charitable cause.

The government spends a relatively miniscule portion of the federal budget on charity. The idea that the government is "forcibly extracting money" to be spent on charitable causes has no connection to reality.

Pastor_Jeff said...

To be fair to Biden, could he possibly left off his church donations?

Churches (and I think all not-for-profits) are required to issue a year-end giving statement for anyone who's given more than $250 that year. So if Biden gave more than $250, he'd have a letter from his church stating so. No one is required to take tax deductions for charitable giving, but it would be pretty silly to have given significantly and not take the credit.

You can also give gifts in kind (think donations to Goodwill). You are then allowed to claim an estimated value for them as part of your charitable giving. So again, it's possible that Biden gave in-kind gifts and didn't claim them, but it seems unlikely.


Most churches have a "minimum recommended donation"

That's news to me.

Original Mike said...

The government spends a relatively miniscule portion of the federal budget on charity.

Does anybody know the amount of "refundable tax credits" given out by the government annually? Just curious.

Revenant said...

The government spends a relatively miniscule portion of the federal budget on charity.

Social Security, Medicare, welfare, farm aid...

Triangle Man said...

That sums up in a nutshell why I'm a conservative.

And I think that sums up in a nutshell why liberals think that, conservatives think only about their individual tax burden to the exclusion of any other concern, except when they are legislating their personal religious beliefs.

AJ Lynch said...

Pastor Jeff:

I am fairly certain many Catholic churches do. That is what I have heard especially if you have kids in their parochial schools.

former law student said...

John McCain lives with a multimillionaire who files separately. Cindy does not charge him room and board at the DC condo, the Phoenix condo, the Sedona spread, or the Coronado place. She lets him fly in the Cindyjet for free (he must reimburse her when he uses it for campaigning). Essentially, his income is his beer and cigarette money.

If Biden had married into a Bud distributorship, he might give more money, too. And he obviously is spending a lot on Amtrak that McCain does not have to.

Pastor_Jeff said...

The idea that the government is "forcibly extracting money" to be spent on charitable causes has no connection to reality.

I think when people make this argument, they're thinking broadly of social welfare programs. Those are certainly not a small part of the federal budget.

Jesus did command his followers to render unto Caesar's that which is Caesar's. But many Christians question whether the government has the moral right to compel charity through taxation.

The government even recognizes this, allowing full-time ministers to permanently opt out of SS based on religious scruples. But once you opt out, you can never opt back in.

I wish I'd had a religious scruple on the issue, because I would much prefer to invest my own money with a reasonable expectation that it will be there when I retire. Unfortunately, Jesus doesn't allow us to disobey the government simply because it's stupid.

former law student said...

Social Security, Medicare

have been off-budget since the Reagan administration.

Pastor_Jeff said...

John Kerry lives with a multimillionaire who files separately. Theresa does not charge him room and board at the [fill in the blanks]. She lets him fly in the Heinzjet (Ketchup One!) for free (he must reimburse her when he uses it for campaigning). Essentially, his income is his wine and caviar money.

Corrected.

krylovite said...

How about if the guy is from Delaware? :)

Okay, if you insist, Delaware.

Delaware is just New Jersey South, yanno. It's New Jersey without the 'New York's basement' reputation. The most significant person ever to come from Delaware? Valerie Bertinelli. Enough said.

Original Mike said...

$350 FLS. I bet you give more.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Social Security, Medicare ... have been off-budget since the Reagan administration.

Wow! You mean we don't have to pay for them anymore? Awesome! Where do I get my rebate check?

former law student said...

I don't think you're allowed to count contributions to Rezko or Saddam bag-man Auchi as "charitable gifts"

Fen got his right-wing talking points exactly backwards. Sinister Middle-Easterners funded Obama, not the other way around.

Get it right!

Original Mike said...

Social Security, Medicare have been off-budget since the Reagan administration.

That's a lawyer's answer.

krylovite said...

Social Security

Anyone who thinks Social Security is charity hasn't ever had a paycheck.

Methadras said...

former law student said...

John McCain lives with a multimillionaire who files separately. Cindy does not charge him room and board at the DC condo, the Phoenix condo, the Sedona spread, or the Coronado place. She lets him fly in the Cindyjet for free (he must reimburse her when he uses it for campaigning). Essentially, his income is his beer and cigarette money.

If Biden had married into a Bud distributorship, he might give more money, too. And he obviously is spending a lot on Amtrak that McCain does not have to.


Wow. Bitter much?

former law student said...

pastor jeff: it's easy to give away a quarter of your income when it's all discretionary. While perhaps fascinating, John Kerry is outside the scope of Ann's post.

Social Security is an old-age and disability pension scheme, funded by contributions from employers and employees.

former law student said...

Wow. Bitter much?

I was thinking more of the parable of the Widow's Mite.

Methadras said...

This is just another nail in the coffin that liberals/leftist are way less generous than conservatives. Leftists want to their charity to be called burdensome taxation, conservatives just want to keep calling it charity; a willing and willful need to be generous for the simple sake of it.

bearbee said...

Here is TaxProf on Obama Returns

Where is the $250 million charity donation?

Original Mike said...

Anyone who thinks Social Security is charity hasn't ever had a paycheck.

Social Security is a Ponzi scheme which is ultimately unsustainable.

Simon said...

former law student said...
"John McCain lives with a multimillionaire who files separately. Cindy does not charge him room and board...."

Actually, she does - she just extracts a non-monetary levy. There's a reason the poor guy always looks tired.

former law student said...

Good Bloomberg link from the Taxprof blog. Obamas' giving is typical; people over 150K in income give only some 2.2% of their income.

The Obamas' giving pattern is consistent with that of most other Americans, said University of Georgia Professor Russell James, who has studied the issue.

His analysis of more than 56,000 survey respondents from 1995-2005 found that 90 percent of donors give 2 percent or less of their pre-tax income to charities, including their churches. Americans who earn more than $150,000 on average gave about 2.2 percent of their income.

``It's not shocking,'' James said of the Obamas' philanthropy. ``It's about par for the course for Americans.''

bearbee said...

ps....Maybe I'm reading this thing wrong but it appears Obama '07 income was closer to $4 million, primarily from royalities.

And, yes, Joe B appears to be a relative pauper.

Pastor_Jeff said...

While perhaps fascinating, John Kerry is outside the scope of Ann's post.

In other words, only Republicans who live off their wives' wealth are fair game.

Got it.

Methadras said...

former law student said...

Wow. Bitter much?

I was thinking more of the parable of the Widow's Mite.


Not seeing the connection, considering that no one forced McCain to donate over a quarter of his wealth while his opponents can't seem to scrape up a farthing to be generous with, but that's fine. However, the essential nature of the Widow's Mite is that she did it not out of obligation because she could have easily have just given one Mite and kept the other, but she did it out of her inherent generosity when she didn't have to.

You would deride the McCain's their ability to be generous as a function of Cindy's beer distributorship while a the same time lamenting Biden's inability to be as generous because he isn't as wealthy? Generosity isn't a function of wealth, it's a function as an outgrowth of compassion, which is something you seem to lack in recognizing and criticize others for practicing. Biden's and Obama's ungenerous natures are a symptom of their respective characters. McCain doesn't appear to have that flaw.

Yeah, you are definitely bitter.

Revenant said...

Anyone who thinks Social Security is charity hasn't ever had a paycheck.

Social Security payments are funded by current taxation -- i.e., by other people's money. That makes it charity, plain and simple.

The fact that the government pinky-swears it'll provide ME with charity someday (albeit at dramatically inferior rates to what I'd have had if I was allowed to invest the money myself) doesn't change the fact that it is charity. There's nothing preventing the government from breaking that promise, and considering that outstanding SS and Medicare "obligations" are around 25 times the size of the entire federal budget it is obvious that they *will* be breaking that promise to a lot of people.

Pastor_Jeff said...

it's easy to give away a quarter of your income when it's all discretionary.

So does John Kerry give away a quarter of his "discretionary" income, as you claim is so easy to do?

Original Mike said...

Conservatives believe private charity should bear more of the burdens of caring for the unfortunate and other good works. Liberals want to see government do more, and we're expected to pay taxes to pay for it. I see no hypocrisy here at all.

What I see is that liberals are unwilling to give unless they're sure others are giving too. Apparently, they don't want to be "cheated".

David said...

The point is not to compare McCain with Biden.

The point is to determine whether Biden shows any sense of community obligation or compassion.

Someone with $350,000 AGI who donates less than $1000 to charity is a massive cheapskate by any measure. And he's a serial cheapskate--ten years in a row.

Hypocrite? No. But he sure looks selfish and cheap.

rhhardin said...

Social Security is a general tax like any other, and has nothing to do with benefits.

The government cannot (cannot!) save the receipts; it must (must!) instantly return all money to circulation, either by spending it or buying back government debt, lest the money supply fall and strangle the economy.

(Similarly you can't privatize Social Security; everybody can't save at once, no matter how it's tried. The crisis is demographic, and the solution has to be people retire later. This will absolutely happen, raising the retirement age until there are enough workers to support fewer retirees.)

Future services must be supplied by future workers.

That said, the SS tax is the best of all taxes, a flat tax. Take away the upper cap and make it apply to all income, raise the rate a few percent, and you can eliminate the income tax, and the economy would take off.

rhhardin said...

I don't give a penny to charity.

rhhardin said...

con't

Emerson has a nice quote somewhere on that, the wicked dollar...

Ah, Self-reliance:

Then again, do not tell me, as a good man did today, of my obligation to put all poor men in good situations. Are they my poor? I tell thee, thou foolish philanthropists that I grudge the dollar, the dime, the cent I give to such men as do not belong to me and to whom I do not belong. There is a class of persons to whom by all spiritual affinity I am bought and sold; for them I will go to prisons if need be; but your miscellaneous popular charities; the education at college of fools; the building of meeting-houses to the vain end to which many now stand; alms to sots; and the thousandfold Relief Societies;--though I confess with shame I sometimes succumb and give the dollar, it is a wicked dollar, which by and by I shall have the manhood to withhold.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Byron York pointed out in 2004 that Kerry suddenly got interested in charitable giving when he decided to seek national office. In 2003, his charitable giving amounted to 11% of his income.

That significant level of giving stands in contrast to his record in the 1990s, in which the issue of the senator's charitable contributions was a source of controversy. In 1995, Kerry reportedly had a taxable income of $126,179, and made charitable contributions of $0. In 1994, he gave $2,039 to charity. In 1993, the figure was $175. In 1992, it was $820, and in 1991, it was $0.

FLS, you said it was "easy" for a guy who was living off his wife to give a quarter of his money to charity.

Not so easy after all, eh?

Pastor_Jeff said...

So again, FLS, you've demonstrated that you're a partisan hack.

How about applying the same standard to Kerry that you apply to McCain?

Michael said...

Gee, I wonder if McCain's contributions have ANYTHING whatsoever to do with being worth approximately $150 million and knowing massive write-offs against profits (wasn't there a huge brewery sale recently...and guess who owned mucho stock in the one being purchased at a huge premium) or increased real estate values (that's if you can keep track of what you actually own) might be good?

Nawwww, that couldn't possibly have anything to do with it.

John and Cindy are just wonderful, extremely wealthy people who like giving their money away, and God knows...they do not want any kind or I.R. S. considerations in return.

Pastor_Jeff said...

John and Cindy are just wonderful, extremely wealthy people who like giving their money away, and God knows...they do not want any kind or I.R.S. considerations in return.

Wow. So now giving to charity is evidence of greed and perfidy.

Those are some amazing mental gymnastics on display. But can he stick the landing?

MadisonMan said...

jim howard, I don't see that Obama and Biden can be compared to Pilate. Pilate was a governor, like Palin.

krylovite said...

Social Security payments are funded by current taxation -- i.e., by other people's money. That makes it charity, plain and simple.

You sure are out of touch. I hope the GOP runs with the "Social Security is a charity!" slogan though. Trust me, it's a winner!

I imagine that retired people would be offended by the statement that SS is charity. After contributing to the SS fund during the entirety of a working lifetime, with a promise of retirement benefits, retired workers probably consider Social Security an EARNED benefit rather than charity. You see, if people have earned something through hard work, it doesn't qualify as a charity - it's a benefit, not a gift.

In the real world, getting payments from other people doesn't define those payments as charity. Pensions aren't charity. Lottery winnings aren't charity. According to your definition, the salaries of government employees are charitable gifts. That makes military salaries charitable gifts, according to you, and it makes GI Bill benefits charity too.

Has anyone ever suggested that you ought to work for the McCain campaign?

Too many jims said...

When you factor in the fact that McCain files separately, the McCains, as a couple, are probably not as generous as the Obamas are if generosity is expressed as a percentage of annual income of the couple as reported on tax returns (at least for 2006).

In 2006, John McCain had AGI of $338,809 and Mrs. McCain had AGI of $6,066,431. If the couple had a total AGI it would be $6,405,240.

On his 2006 tax return, John McCain claimed that he made charitable contributions of $64,695 from an allocation of marital community property (in 2006, John McCain also claimed a carryover of $32,063 in charitable contributions from prior year). We cannot be certain of Mrs. McCain's charitable contributions because her Schedule A has not been made available. However, according to the McCain campaign Mrs. McCain contributed the same amount as John McCain. If that is the case the McCains, as a couple, reported charitable contributions of $129,390.

If my math is correct (and I readily admit I may be wrong) the Gifts/AGI calculation for the couple would be 2.02% (if you include the carryover the percent increases to 2.52%).

That doesn't detract from whether or not Biden is off the charts stingy when it comes to charity (again if we confine charity to what is reported on one's tax returns).

Pastor_Jeff said...

After contributing to the SS fund during the entirety of a working lifetime, with a promise of retirement benefits, retired workers probably consider Social Security an EARNED benefit rather than charity.

Good Lord, have you been reading government brochures, or something?

So the gov't took payments in, set them aside, invested them for people, and is now paying them back? They're not actually using today's workers to support today's retirees?

And the government guarantees that the money I put in will be there when I retire? You are aware that current obligations will bankrupt the system in a few decades, right? How is that even possible if people are only getting back what they put in?

And if we were only getting back what we put in, there'd be no need for the program, would there?

Just be honest and admit that SS is taking money from people who have it to give to people who don't.

In fact, it's a gigantic Ponzi scheme, and there aren't enough people coming in at the bottom to pay off the obligations at the top.

former law student said...

How about applying the same standard to Kerry that you apply to McCain?

Is Kerry running? If it's 2004, how about applying your standards to W.?

The players here are
McCain
Obama
Biden
Palin.

If you want to live in the past, that's fine, but I don't have to move there with you.

former law student said...

So the gov't took payments in, set them aside, invested them for people, and is now paying them back? They're not actually using today's workers to support today's retirees?

Social Security reform under Reagan (of blessed memory) put Social Security on a strong actuarial footing by hiking the tax rate to 13.4% of salary (half paid by employer and half by employee). The surplus over payouts to current retirees was supposed to be put into trust funds.

former law student said...

whoops: 12.4%

Pastor_Jeff said...

FLS, you're the one who started the monkey poo-flinging by claiming that anyone who was living off his wife's money could "easily" give a quarter of his money to charity.

I tested your theory by applying it to another national politician who's married to a rich heiress. It turns out that not all independently-wealthy politicians give away a quarter of their income.

So are you ready to admit now that your earlier snark about McCain was unjustified partisan tripe and that McCain is in fact generous with his money?

Pastor_Jeff said...

The surplus over payouts to current retirees was supposed to be put into trust funds.

Again I ask: You are aware that current obligations will bankrupt the system in a few decades, right? How is that even possible if people are only getting back what they put in?

Original Mike said...

The surplus over payouts to current retirees was supposed to be put into trust funds.

Yeah. How'd that work out?

Smilin' Jack said...

For those who think Social Security is a great deal, here's an even better one:

Each month you send me a big chunk of your salary. Then, IF you live long enough, and IF you have all of your paperwork in order, and IF I have any of it left, and if I feel like it, I MIGHT give you SOME of your money back.

Send those checks right in!

Original Mike said...

Again I ask: You are aware that current obligations will bankrupt the system in a few decades, right?

Pastor_Jeff, you are being too generous. The point at which payroll taxes do not meet obligations is not a few decades in the future. It's in just a few years. The "few decades" assumes that those government issued I.O.U.s for the surplus payroll taxes represent real assets.

Wurly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AJ Lynch said...

I think it is fair to say any Senator or Congressman who has been in office for the last 20 years sat idly by while the fed govt robbed the social security surplus "contributions".

This is a good example of why we need reform in Washington.

krylovite said...

Good Lord, have you been reading government brochures, or something?

Good Lord, are you people completely ignorant of how Social Security works?

Don't you know that there are work-related eligibility requirements for Social Security benefits (unlike most charities)?

Don't you know that Social Security are not means-tested (unlike most charities)?

Don't you know that Social Security benefits are larger for those who contributed more (unlike most charities)?

You are aware that current obligations will bankrupt the system in a few decades, right?

The Social Security Trust Fund will be depleted by 2052, according to a projection by the CBO. That's more than a few decades and it assumes no increase in payroll tax rate or benefit reductions. Even after 2052, the Social Security system will continue to pay benefits although those benefits will be less than promised. It helps to get the facts right, don't you think?

Just be honest and admit that SS is taking money from people who have it to give to people who don't.

Just be honest and admit you don't know your head from your ass. Social Security benefits are given to qualified retired workers regardless of whether or not they need the benefits. They are workers who have contributed to the system through payroll taxes and are collecting their earned retirement benefits.

Harsh Pencil said...

I have never heard of a Catholic Church ever having minimum donation, except maybe $1 per year. Never, and I've been with a lot. If you have a kid at the school, you have to pay tuition, but never are forced to give to the general fund. The only reason I said $1 is that I did have a pastor once who required every registered parishioner to give something, but he made clear that it could be $1.

That a man whose combined family income is over $350,000 gave less than $1000 year after year to his local parish is astonishing. In general, in a parish, while the priest might thank a big contributor for a special project, no one knows how much anyone else is giving.

A lot of Catholics now will know that he's been freeloading off his fellow parishioners, almost all of whom are poorer. What was that about bringing him in to shore up the Catholic vote?

Original Mike said...

The Social Security Trust Fund...

There. Is. No. Trust. Fund.

And I have no doubt that you know it.

Original Mike said...

Hell, even FLS admits it:

"The surplus over payouts to current retirees was supposed to be put into trust funds."

Zaplito said...

I never understood why liberals don't just voluntarily pay extra taxes to the government they think is so effective at solving problems. Nothing keeps them from doing it. But no, they have to make us all pay taxes.

BTW my wife's and my combined charitable giving is 18% of our unadjusted gross income. And we make way less than Biden or Obama. I pay as little tax as possible.

The Drill SGT said...

Too many jims said...If my math is correct (and I readily admit I may be wrong) the Gifts/AGI calculation for the couple would be 2.02% (if you include the carryover the percent increases to 2.52%).

I have no direct knowledge, but Cindy does run a charity and also a business. It would be smart tax policy to make donations from the business directly at take a deduction there rather than take those assets as salary or dividends, pay taxes on that income and make personal deductions.

AJ Lynch said...

Harsh Pencil said:
"A lot of Catholics now will know that he's been freeloading off his fellow parishioners, almost all of whom are poorer. What was that about bringing him in to shore up the Catholic vote?"

Very good point.

BTW I was the one who made the point about Catholics and minimum recommended donations. Fallen Catholic myself but I was going by anecdotal stories I heard from my Catholic friends. I had no malice intended.

krylovite said...

There. Is. No. Trust. Fund.

www.ssa.gov/OACT/ProgData/assets.html

Original Mike said...

No there, there, krylovit.

I know the facts. And so do you. It ain't rocket science.

Harsh Pencil said...

al lynch:

None taken, before or after.

Pastor_Jeff said...

krylovite, I'm well aware of how the program is both actually run and how it was (and is) sold to the public.

Just because it's unlike other forms of charity doesn't mean it's not charity. The money I'm putting in is not being set aside for me, it's being used to pay the people who are currently retired. The system works by taking money from those who are working and giving to those who are not. The whole point of the system, according to FDR, was to create old age 'insurance' for those who didn't have any. This was accomplished by current workers paying for people who were already retired.

It's a gigantic mutual aid society in which the government decides who gets how much and tries to keep the money coming in greater than the money going out. Eligibility requirements and lack of means-testing don't make it less of a charity, just a different kind. And it certainly is enforced.

But if it's not enforced charity and my contributions are sitting there gathering interest and not being used to pay current retirees, then give me my money back and let me out of the system.

(sfx: crickets)

And four and a half is "a few decades" to most rational people.

krylovite said...

That a man whose combined family income is over $350,000 gave less than $1000 year after year to his local parish is astonishing.

It's astonishing that anyone claims to know what Biden gave to his church. There is no requirement that charitable donations be reported on income tax returns. For example:

"Biden's financial disclosure returns also show donations of speaking fees to charity that aren't reported on the tax returns."

Original Mike said...

Well, I don't consider SS to be charity. It's closer to theft. Take money from people and then give it back to them 40 years later with virtually no investment return.

krylovite said...

I know the facts.

Hee hee! The Althouse comedian speaks!

Pogo said...

The problem with compulsory public charity like welfare, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid is not merely that it removes oversight by the giver as to whom it is most appropriate to give, but it also:

*discourages work and saving
*increases mistrust of the government (by reneging when the Ponzi scheme collapses)
*contributes to the decline of the family (as Moynihan proved)
*advances government obtrusion into what used to be private choices (medical care, smoking, dietary choices, weight, child care)
*increases the culture of dependency, in which the populace becomes unable to take of itself (see: Katrina aftermath)

Original Mike said...

All right, hot shot. When it's time to cash in those bonds in the "trust fund", where does the money come from?

Simple question. Give me a straight answer.

Harsh Pencil said...

There is no tax consequence of donating your speaking fee back to those you are speaking to, so there is no reason to report it. That is, you can take the speaking fee as income, and then deduct giving it back as a charitable deduction, or simply not take the speaking fee and then you get no deduction but also no income. Tax is the same either way.

But not reporting money you gave your church has a tax consequence. You don't get the deduction, period.

I have my kids put a dollar each in the basket each week and then write one check for the whole year at Christmas. I don't deduct the cash since it doesn't add up to much. (At least to me. Biden would think it huge.) But there's no way Biden is giving cash and not reporting it. Every parish jumps through hoops to make it easy for you. Except for anonymous cash donations, they send you a printed report adding everything up, precisely to make it easy for you to report it.

This, maybe he gave but didn't report angle ain't flying.

former law student said...

The point of the story of the widow's mite is that the value of a contribution is not the dollar amount, but the amount of sacrifice it represents. Thus the small amount contributed by a Biden, who lives off his Senatorial income, his part-time teaching income, and his wife's teacher's income, may be worth more than John McCain's larger amount, because John McCain's wife provides for all of his material needs.

Mark 12:43-44

"Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had."

Pastor Jeff says "But look over there!!! Look at John Kerry!! Is not just like John McCain, only selfisher?!?" And I say to Pastor Jeff: Sufficient unto each Presidential election is the evil thereof.

former law student said...

Hell, even FLS admits it:

"The surplus over payouts to current retirees was supposed to be put into trust funds."


I didn't want to say, but my fear is that W. is funding the war in Iraq with the SS Trust Fund. He's the only President that I can think of who was able to wage war while cutting taxes.

krylovite said...

Just because it's unlike other forms of charity doesn't mean it's not charity.

Social Security is not a charity because it doesn't have the characteristics of a charity. See, this is the point where knowing what words means really, really helps.

And four and a half is "a few decades" to most rational people.

How would you know anything about how rational people think? The system isn't bankrupt in four and a half decades anyway. Based on CBO projections, it will continue to operate even without an increase in the payroll tax or a change in the retirement age or implementation of means-testing. After 40-50 years, depending on economic growth rates, the promised benefits will be paid to retirees at a reduced level, but the benefits will still be paid.

krylovite said...

But not reporting money you gave your church has a tax consequence. You don't get the deduction, period.

My parents never claimed charitable gifts as tax deductions. They didn't feel that they needed something in return for giving to charity. They saw their tax obligation as US citizens as something completely separate from their private charitable giving.

Tax deductions for charitable giving is meant to encourage charity. It's not a prerequisite for charitable giving.

Original Mike said...

Waiting for an answer.

Pogo said...

"it will continue to operate even without an increase in the payroll tax or a change in the retirement age or implementation of means-testing. After 40-50 years, depending on economic growth rates..."

And the trees on sugar mountain will grow candy canes while the unicorns shit marshmallows.

Joe said...

I consider the vast majority of charities to be scams, so I don't care.

vbspurs said...

Those are some amazing mental gymnastics on display. But can he stick the landing?

LOL!

Reminds me what I read about Palin recently -- that's since she's Pro-Life, she's actually Pro-Death!

Pastor_Jeff said...

Pastor Jeff says "But look over there!!! Look at John Kerry!! Is not just like John McCain, only selfisher?!?" And I say to Pastor Jeff: Sufficient unto each Presidential election is the evil thereof.

No, the point is that you sneered at McCain giving 25% of income to charity, dismissing it as "easy" for a man with a rich wife.

I pointed out that under similar circumstances Kerry gave bupkis to charity. So unless you're willing to condemn Kerry as a selfish jerk, your argument was simply a piece of partisan BS.

Which I knew all along, but just wanted you to have to be forced to admit.

Peter V. Bella said...

But you're missing a key point: restribution hurts charity because people grow to believe that The Government is helping those that used to rely on charity: "why do I need to do charity work when I'm already paying the government to do it for me?".

You are missing the real point. The tax money- redistribution if it makes some feel better- has never helped anyone. It is smoke and mirrors and voodoo accounting. The poor stay poor, the homeless stay homeless, and the hungry stay hungry. But the bureaucrats and social service agencies got jobs, grants, and paychecks. The money is just redistributed to provide government and social service agency jobs.

Redistribution is a scam, a con, and a fraud.

Original Mike said...

Your silence answers my question, krylovite.

Original Mike said...

Hey, Victoria! Did you buy that watch?

Pastor_Jeff said...

Redistribution is a scam, a con, and a fraud.

But it's not a 'charity' according to krylovite, and that's the really important thing.

former law student said...

I pointed out that under similar circumstances Kerry gave bupkis to charity. So unless you're willing to condemn Kerry as a selfish jerk, your argument was simply a piece of partisan BS.

I don't know Kerry's financial position and I don't care. But, because you are a Christian, I will make you an offer in the spirit of Matthew 5:41. If you research the income and percent of charitable giving of both George Bushes, I will research the income and percent of charitable giving of John Kerry.

krylovite said...

All right, hot shot. When it's time to cash in those bonds in the "trust fund", where does the money come from?

I didn't want to say, but my fear is that W. is funding the war in Iraq with the SS Trust Fund.

Hey, wait until the Iraq oil money comes rolling in! As soon as they pay us back for all our good work in redesigning their country, removing some excess women and children from the Baghdad population, and contributing combat weapons to the Iraqi population, we should have plenty of money for frivolous expenditures like benefits for veterans and the elderly.

Seriously, it's good to know that the GOP doesn't even believe their own bullshit about taxation and economic stimulus.

krylovite said...

But it's not a 'charity' according to krylovite, and that's the really important thing.

Post the definition of "charity" from a reasonable source and show that Social Security satisfies the definition. If you're going to hang out here, you might as well learn something.

Pogo said...

but fls, what's the point, since the left considers taxes a sufficient transfer of wealth for socia engineering purposes.

What do they care what any person does or does not give?

For the left charity is a non-issue. They gave at the ofice.

krylovite said...

Your silence answers my question, krylovite.

Damn, your posts don't answer anything. Tough luck.

There's no point in having a debate about the meaningfulness of government IOUs to itself unless you're also willing to debate government tax and accounting policy. A blog comments section isn't a good forum for that.

Still it's good to know that you don't believe the GOP taxation/economic stimulus bullshit. That gets you a bonus point.

Original Mike said...

Knew it. You're not stupid, you're dishonest. I'm through with you.

Pogo said...

Post the definition of "charity" from a reasonable source

Legal?
Moral?
Modern?
Ancient?
Religious?
Secular?

Pastor_Jeff said...

Charitable organization:

"In the United States a charitable organization is an organization that is organized and operated for purposes that are beneficial to the public interest." (IRS document P557)

"The types of charitable organization that are considered by the IRS to be organized for the public benefit include those that are organized for:
1. Relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged,
2. Advancement of religion,
3. Advancement of education or science,
4. Erection or maintenance of public buildings, monuments, or works,
5. Lessening the burdens of government,
6. Lessening of neighborhood tensions,
7. Elimination of prejudice and discrimination,
8. Defense of human and civil rights secured by law, and
9. Combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency."

FDR made it clear that SS was relief for those who had no old age insurance. SS lessens the burden of government to provide for the aged. SS is charity. If a non-governmental body created a SS-like program, it would be a charity.

Yeah, words mean something.

Pastor_Jeff said...

If you're going to hang out here, you might as well learn something.

I couldn't have put it better myself.

I've been hanging out here for 3 years. You?

Pogo said...

B-b-but ...but ...but Pastor Jeff, in the left, 'charity' means whatever we say it means.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Off to dinner and kids' soccer.

krylovite said...

I'm through with you.

Oh noes! What am I gonna do without original mike impatiently asking me stupid questions?

krylovite said...

I've been hanging out here for 3 years.

Jesus, Pastor Jeff! You've been here 3 years and you still haven't learned anything?

Stan Smith said...

Yo, krylovite:

My dear departed Grandpa, who died at the tender age of 99 1/2, received Social Security benefits for 33 years (he was 66 when the program was instituted, having been born in 1876). The interesting thing is, he NEVER PAID A DIME into the system. No "earned benefits", right? You do recall that the woman who received the first Social Security check got something like $42,000 over the years (yeah, benefits were much lower then), but also NEVER PAID A DIME into the system.

Social Security is a TRANSFER TAX, taxing workers now to pay for worker who have retired previously, and who have NEVER paid in as much as most of them receive. It is the largest Ponzi scheme in history, bankrupt AT ITS OUTSET.

Most of you could do with reading "Who Really Cares" by Arthur C. Brooks. It answers this stupid argument about charity giving pretty well.

AJ Lynch said...

Let's agree for the sake of argument the social security burden now is 12% of your earnings. That includes the employrs' share.

If you had an option to opt out & get not future benefits but would still have to pay 4% of your earnings. Plus you then keep the other 8% for your own investment accounts. Would anyone take that offer?

I would if the 4% were used a kind of "charity" or subsistence benefit for those who become disabled and can't work. I would not if Congress just used that 4% as a slush fund like they do today.

krylovite said...

"The types of charitable organization that are considered by the IRS to be organized for the public benefit include those that are organized for:
1. Relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged,
2. Advancement of religion,
3. Advancement of education or science,
4. Erection or maintenance of public buildings, monuments, or works,
5. Lessening the burdens of government,
6. Lessening of neighborhood tensions,
7. Elimination of prejudice and discrimination,
8. Defense of human and civil rights secured by law, and
9. Combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency."


Right on, Pastor Jeff! It looks like conditions 1-9 don't apply to Social Security, so I don't see why you cite that section of the tax code.

Wait a sec! WTF? You think number 5 applies?

SS lessens the burden of government to provide for the aged.

Social Security lessens the burden of government? Hee hee!

Let me get this straight: You think Social Security lessens the burden of government and that by getting rid of this massive government "charity" program we will increase the burden on the government? Holy crap, that's original! Just think of some of the slogans you could use for bumperstickers:

"Lighten the Gubmint load, double down on Social Security!"

"Social Security: Helping to Lighten the Gubmint's Burden"

"Help the Gubmint, Retire Early!"

Seriously Pastor Jeff, you're shooting yourself in the foot. Again and again.

Charity is a gift generally given to those in need. Social Security is an EARNED benefit given to all qualified retirees regardless of need. Workers pay into the SS system with the promise of future benefits. It's the government equivalent of a retirement plan, and retirement plans aren't charities.

You should be working for McCain/Palin. They could use your help.

former law student said...

SS is charity.

Nope. FDR knew if it were charity, it would soon be ended. Everybody who works, pays, and everybody who pays will receive a payout.

It is the one annuity that increases with the cost of living. On the risk-reward curve it is very low risk, with a reasonable reward. No other alternative investment can match it.

krylovite said...

Yo Stan,

Let's focus on this century for the sake of Social Security discussions. Okie dokie?

Retirees who are receiving benefits today paid into the system in their working years. The government promised them benefits when it collected payroll taxes. It's not charity, it's an earned benefit.

The old grandpa story is swell though. You can probably dig up some great stories about widows getting benefits without having ever paid payroll tax too. Collect those stories, send them to McCain headquarters and see if he uses the "Social Security is charity" slogan. I'm tellin' ya, McCain needs more foot soldiers like you and Pastor Jeff!

Stan Smith said...

Yo, krylo:

Well, I just wanna be around to see how your SS benefits work out when you retire, buddy. Good luck.

And read the book (or even the book jacket) I suggested, it'll shut you up pretty fast.

Stan Smith said...

In addition, this doesn't even take into consideration the unfairness of SS to minorities, specifically black men, who typically do not live to see their "benefits", since many die before the age of 65. Actuarially, SS is a disaster, especially if life expectancies continue to increase, and retirement ages continue to go down.

krylovite said...

And read the book (or even the book jacket) I suggested, it'll shut you up pretty fast.

As a matter of policy I don't read crap. There are too many good books to read and not enough hours in the day.... I have to be selective so I start by flushing the crap.

krylovite said...

this doesn't even take into consideration the unfairness of SS to minorities, specifically black men

Oh yeah, the Right has been worried about unfairness to black men for decades. That's why blacks turn out in big numbers to vote for republican candidates.

Revenant said...

Similarly you can't privatize Social Security; everybody can't save at once, no matter how it's tried.

Everybody can invest at once. If everybody *saves* at once -- i.e., stuffs the money into a mattress or something -- then the money supply falls.

Pastafarian said...

I would say that there would be no hypocrisy, if the Democrats chose to overpay their federal income tax, paying, say, 50%, which they'd like it to be on people in their bracket, instead of 35%.

Then they'd be contributing almost as much to "charity" as the Republicans.

But they don't -- so the hypocrisy is nauseating.

Stan Smith said...

"As a matter of policy I don't read"

I'd say that was pretty self-evident.

Peter V. Bella said...

Charity under according to the IRS is any non-profit organization. So if people give tax deductible money to a politcal party or candidate, how is that charity. It helps no one. Check to see how much you leiberal icons gave to charity- political contributions. They helped no one except the poltroons running for office.

Todd said...

I'd rather have a VP that backs wars that are acts of God. Let's revert to puritanical times.

Pastor_Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pastor_Jeff said...

You think Social Security lessens the burden of government

No, FDR thought so. SS was launched as a plan to provide old age insurance for those who had none. Read FDR. Hence, it was designed to redistribute wealth, lessen the government's obligation to provide social welfare ("Freedom from want" -- remember that? Again, read FDR), and provide for the needy (those who needed retirement money and had none). As I pointed out, anyone who set out to create a non-governmental version of SS would be creating a charity, according to the IRS -- yet another fact which you skated past.

You really seem to have an entirely unjustified confidence in your own intelligence and a commitment to being obtuse, condescending, unpleasant, and dishonest in argumentation. That may give you a sense of self-importance at Kos or HuffPo, but here it just makes you look stupid and immature.

I'm not really interested in feeding trolls, so I'll not waste any more time in the vain attempt to engage you in adult discussion.

Have fun flinging your poo.

Karen said...

Ann, I get your point about each side living their beliefs. But what's maddening is the charge, by liberals, that conservatives are mean and don't care about the poor, etc., when you could argue they care MORE since they give more to charity.

Although what's even MORE maddening than that is that W's "compassionate conservatism" bit just wholesale accepted the liberal's charge!

Eli Blake said...

Reading a bit more of the link though,

They are basing the percentage that McCain gives based on his adjusted gross income, but his adjusted gross income is practically nothing compared to the $100 million fortune he and his wife have. In other words, McCain could in theory afford to give more than 100% of his Senate salary and would still be very, very well off.

Biden in contrast is the poorest member of the Senate, one who actually lives on his Senate income (and who hasn't grown wealthy through the years like a lot of Senators and members of Congress have mysteriously-- I'll let others speculate on how that happens.) So one could also point out that for him to give over 20% of his income to charity would be pretty much ruinous while for McCain none of what he actually makes in income even matters. Obama is somewhere in the middle (though since he earned $4 million last year, mostly from book royalties, he isn't 'rich' according to McCain's definition.)

Why does this matter? Simple. Since I have to worry about stretching my budget to be able to pay my electric bill and still have enough money to buy school lunches for my kids, I'd suggest that a poor man like Biden is a lot more likely to relate to what I deal with as an ordinary person (and write policies that affect me from the vantage point of reality) than a rich man like McCain (who apparently thinks that 'middle class' means ordinary millionaires.)

MTbomber said...

Jeez. It sure helps one to give away a quarter of his or her $200,000 or so salary when your spouse has at lease $100 Million+. What next? What stupidity will you point us to tomorrow in order to guide us to the profound revelation that John Mccain -- the lying sack of shit who once had integrity, but will now say anything to get elected -- is actually more deserving of our admiration than Joe Biden, who is one of the few senators NOT to capitalize on his position in the denate to become a rich man?

Who is more moral, the wife dumper who strongarmed the DEA to get them to back off his multimillionaire trophy wife when she was facing 20 years on drug charges, or the self made made who made every dime of his wealth by himself -- writing books in his own hand, insted of authoring then with others doing the writing?

Are theese more signs of McCain's superior morality? You really crack me up.

Thales said...

It's stunning to me to see Biden defenders on this point. Biden might be "poor" relative to McCain, but that is all irrelevant. Compared to me, Biden is stingy. Biden apparently gave only a couple of hundred dollars to charity, even though he had an income of more than $210,000. Pathetic. I make much, much less than Biden and donate much, much more than he.

rightwingprof said...

Taxes that well heeled liberals don't pay. It's not "government doing more"; it's spending other people's money.

Too many jims said...

Peter V. Bella said...

Charity under according to the IRS is any non-profit organization.


You need a new tax advisor or you need to hope you do not get audited.

Fletch said...

krylovite-(1:34)

Anyone who thinks Social Security is charity hasn't ever had a paycheck.

I'm 44 yrs old and I have never earned more than $40k/yr on my paycheck in any of my 29 yrs of working life.

Socialist InSecurity is simply Welfare for old people.

Fletch said...

original mike(2:04)-

What I see is that liberals are unwilling to give unless they're sure others are giving too. Apparently, they don't want to be "cheated".

That's my biggest complaint!

Warren Buffett always whines that his secretary pays a higher % of her income to taxes than he does...

Of course, Mr Buffett can easily pay any amount he thinks is appropriate to the Gov't. He knowingly and continuously chose NOT to match his secretary's equivalent sacrifice for 40+ years.

Also, he's even dodging his Estate tax obligation by donating big bucks to the Gates Foundation.

Warren Buffett simply wants somebody else to pay the taxes he didn't pay himself.

Jason said...

former law student:


It is the one annuity that increases with the cost of living.

No it's not. Almost any insurance company in the world provides a cost-of-living or inflation rider on annuity products.

Get a clue.

On the risk-reward curve it is very low risk,

No it's not. The legislative risk is huge.

with a reasonable reward.

Only for those at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, since Social Security is redistributive. Those who earn higher amounts are typically far less satisfied with returns.

No other alternative investment can match it.

Actually, quite a number can. A lot of people make a great living helping business owners save money on FICA buy doing anything else.

If people were happy with FICA returns, that wouldn't be the case.

But for the sake of argument, let's say that Social Security provided a GREAT return, compared to other instruments. So who's getting robbed from to provide that return?

jphilip said...

Ann I'm not sure you see the full picture of Biden's hypocrisy. This is a guy who claims to be a devout catholic yet he can't put $5 per week into the collection on Sundays. You don't feel that his taxes should fund his local parish, do you?

The years in review span 9/11, a tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. Biden gave virtually nothing to those or any other worthy causes.

This is a guy who has made his career via class warfare and portraying people who make over $200k as not paying their fair share. Surely he'd compensate by giving something reasonable to his church and urgent disaster relief.

By these very reasonable criteria, the guy is a monumental hypocrite.

former law student said...

No it's not. Almost any insurance company in the world provides a cost-of-living or inflation rider on annuity products.

Point me to a prospectus, please. I've heard of variable annuities, but the payout varies based on the underlying investments, not the cost of living.

with a reasonable reward.

Only for those at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, since Social Security is redistributive.


My stocks were in the hole for years after the dotcom bust. Good thing I wasn't living off my investments.

Daddio said...

Jesus did command his followers to render unto Caesar's that which is Caesar's. But many Christians question whether the government has the moral right to compel charity through taxation.

As a citizen of a representative democracy, to a large extent, I am Caesar.

Schorsch said...

The better case against him is how little _tax_ he pays. Without engaging any loopholes or deductions, he should be paying around $84000 in 2007. He paid $66000. He doesn't have dependent-aged children, so he must have an accountant working hard to save him that cash.

How can he ask others to shoulder more tax burden, when he dodges his?