Terence Jeffrey / March 18, 2009

Obama’s Class War Budget vs. Your Income

President Obama met this week with the chairmen of the congressional budget committees and called for a bipartisan effort to “pass a budget that puts this nation on the road to lasting prosperity.” But the fiscal 2010 budget he presented is a startling call to political class war.

It depicts America as populated by an aggrieved middle class exploited by an upper class luxuriating in ill-gotten gains.

“While middle-class families have been playing by the rules, living up to their responsibilities as neighbors and citizens, those at the commanding heights of our economy have not,” says Obama’s budget document. “There’s nothing wrong with making money, but there is something wrong when we allow the playing field to be tilted so far in the favor of so few.”

To fix this alleged problem, Obama’s budget points – like his famous sidewalk colloquy with “Joe the Plumber” – to using the tax code to spread the wealth around.

“For the better part of three decades, a disproportionate share of the nation’s wealth has been accumulated by the very wealthy,” says the budget. “Yet, instead of using the tax code to lessen these increasing wage disparities, changes in the tax code over the past eight years exacerbated them.”

As evidence of this, the Obama budget cites stagnation in real median household income.

“On top of that, this was the first economic recovery since World War II where real median household income did not rise above its previous peak,” says the budget.

But is this an intellectually honest representation of the recent history of income growth and distribution in the United States? Have we seen wealth progressively concentrating in the hands of a few “for the better part of three decades?”

By carefully presenting a part of the truth, Obama’s budget artfully obscures the whole truth.

The budget cites the Census Bureau as its source for “real median household income.” So I looked to the Census Bureau for a fuller picture of trends in household income.

In August 2008, the Census Bureau published a report titled, “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2007.” I called the bureau and was assured this was its latest report on real median household income and that Table A-1 in the report contains the definitive historical numbers of median household income as well as the percentage of the population that fell into each of nine annual-income brackets ranging from “Under $5,000” to “$100,000 and over.”

All the figures in this Census Bureau table are in inflation-adjusted 2007 dollars.

The table shows that real median household income in the United States was $38,771 in 1967 and $50,233 in 2007. That means it jumped $11,462 in 40 years, or 29.56 percent.

But has income accumulated in the hands of the few at the expense of a growing underclass? Table A-1 shows the opposite: The percentage of American households in each of the upper two income brackets has increased, while the percentage of households in each of the lower seven income brackets has decreased

There simply are more “rich” households in America today and fewer “poor” households.

In 1967, only 5.4 percent of households were in the “$100,000 and over” income bracket (in inflation-adjusted 2007 dollars). In 2007, 20.2 percent were in that bracket – making it now the most populated of all brackets.

One out of every five American households is “rich.”

In 1967, only 7.7 percent of American households were in the second-highest bracket, earning between $75,000 and $99,999 per year. By 2007, 11.9 percent were in that bracket.

So in 1967, 13.1 percent of American households earned more than $75,000, and 86.9 percent earned less. In 2007, 32.1 percent of American households earned more than $75,000, and 67.9 percent earned less.

As a share of the population, wealthier people today are almost two-and-a-half times as numerous as they were when the hippie generation was celebrating its Summer of Love.

But what about Obama’s claim that in the last growth cycle median household income never rose above its peak from the previous cycle? There is truth in this.

“Between 2006 and 2007, real median household income rose from $49,568 to $50,233 (Figure 1-Table 1) – a level not statistically different from the 1999 pre-recession income peak,” says the Census Bureau’s report.

The Figure 1 referred to is a graph that shows the relationship between recessions and real median household income. Its lesson is simple: When the economy declines, household incomes decline. When the economy grows, household incomes grow. Mostly, our free economy has grown, so incomes have grown.

Obama’s class-war budget is based on his belief that he can use the federal tax code to keep incomes down – and still have the economy go up.


Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2022 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.