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Ezra Klein and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good Tax Calculator


Ezra Klein and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good Tax Calculator

Jim Naureckas

The website Vox (3/25/16) has what editor-in-chief Ezra Klein describes as an “excellent tax calculator” that, in its headline’s promise, “Tells You How Each Presidential Candidate’s Tax Plan Affects You.”

Actually, it does no such thing; it’s a gimmick that is entirely useless except as a deceptive advertisement for Hillary Clinton.


Vox has been disgraceful in this cycle. Arguably as bad or worse than MSNBC and even Fox.
And the reason is Klein: he’s turned what was until recently a “credible, moderate” info site into his own personal campaign assistance device.
And among the many Clintonistas I know personally, Vox has carried as great a weight in their understanding of this campaign as any other source, so they’ve done a phenomenal amount of damage. Just last night I got screamed at (in type, of course!) by a gaggle of my old grad school colleagues for being “out to lunch” on politics. Why? Because Vox said so! And the NYT and WaPo, etc.

Regardless of what happens with this particular election, we have to make dealing with the vile media situation we have here top priority. Nothing else can get done without it. Every message we attempt to send to each other through them will be twisted and perverted to their own ends, not ours.
It used to be conventional wisdom that the center of american power was, first, its military, Then, people figured out it was likely it’s financial centers. But it really has always been the media. All of our opinions are shaped by them. And they have all but crushed our autonomy.


Agreed. Shared this article. Was going to quote from it as a preface, but then decided that the title was pretty eye-catching. Now hope people read it and spread the word.

I’m pretty private on FB, signed up to see friends and family, so I don’t reach a lot of people.

I’m sure those of you that have many “friends” are spreading the word. Thanks.


My FB account is purely personal, but, having been an academic, many of my friends are as well. And they are almost all Democrats. Hardcore variety. So even though I’d rather spend time exchanging brownie recipes, you can’t stop two dozen social scientists from talking about the most interesting election in our lifetimes. But they’re all middle class brats except for me and one other. They have no idea how bad millions have it. No idea at all.


There’s no end to the tricks and perception twists that PR specialists, statisticians, and media hacks (who support Clinton… or Trump) will use to handicap Sanders so that he can’t successfully finish–and win–the election marathon.


Why would anyone seek to ascribe just one agency to the inversion of Democracy in our land?

The Military, the big banks (and other huge corporate consortiums), AND the corporate media ALL play significant roles. This is not an “either-or” multiple choice question. Very few phenomena in life have a singular causative agent. I grow suspicious of those who seek to place the onus on ONE corrupt factor in order, it would seem, to purposely play down the others–which are at least as odious and dangerous!

Perhaps “drone” has the objective of protecting the reputation of the MIC?

P.S. Seeing how the U.S. MIC imported Nazis, and seeing how the Nazis focused on the use of propaganda in order to build their military state, it’s quite easy to notice where the MIC has coupled itself with the MSM in recent years. The products are seamless pro-war narratives with Hollywood sexing up things as repugnant as torture.

In fact, some refer to this mechanism as the Military-Media Complex. Apparently, you’re unable to connect these dots.


And this is pretty much why you need urgent psychiatric care. Of course, Rosie, you’ve done uncovered the plot! Foiled again!


This rebuttal shows just how economically illiterate Sanders and his ilk are. Of course it’s correct to factor in payroll taxes because payroll taxes are literally a ceiling on how much any business can pay their employees also. These costs get passed on indirectly to employees. If I have to factor in saving 10-22% of an employee’s salary to cover the tax I’d have to pay just for the govt “permission” to hire them, it’s going to come out of the salary range I can offer them. Businesses aren’t charities, we’re not going to pay that stuff out of the goodness of our kind hearts.

As for the benefits, Vox did nothing wrong since everyone knows Bernie claims $5k of health benefits for tax increases. Even the most financially illiterate Berniebot can subtract $5k from the final Sanders tax amount. We’re all also assuming that the final total for all the benefits would acutaly be $5k and not 3k or even as low as 1k as I’ve seen other analysts predict. Ultimately it does come down to whether someone would spend what would otherwise be tax savings towards healthcare anyway. If someone saves that money they could also put it into a business or investment that could potentially pay that healthcare cost many times over without the increased taxes over the following years or more. Sanders’ socialism basically removes that choice by telling you that you have to pay for his healthcare plan whether you need it or not, or if it is the biggest priority in your life at that time.

Saving the employer money on buying group coverage is also a potentially fair point but again the calculator is built for the average salaried wage earner. Not employers but again… it doest factor in if a business mainly uses 1099 contractors, even permatemps or full timers. Vox’s calculator is the ONLY one that does it right, it treats the payroll tax rightfully as both a cost to employer and employee which is exactly what it is. The payroll tax is the most counter-intuitive thing towards creating middle class jobs. Someone has to be able to afford the payroll tax even before they can afford the employee, this acts as the biggest disincentive towards hiring in a still shaky economy and makes no sense.


The intended deceit of the “tax calculator” is that it only shows the “tax” consequence which is only half of the story. It is totally designed to incite outrage among taxpayers who believe they are already overtaxed.

As the author duly noted in the article, the tax increase applicable to the workers is due to single-payer health care. An honest calculator[1] would show the net out-of-pocket savings[2] from his Medicare For All Plan.

The “tax calculator” represents one of the most misleading representations I’ve seen in a long time as it intentionally presents only half of the story. In fact, I believe it is materially negligent.

The gross bring-home pay is not the important number … it is the amount of money the worker has left in his/her pocket after paying for the necessities of life … including health care!

Additionally, Senator Sanders’ Medicare For All Plan provides coverage for vision, dental and hearing! These are health care benefits that most people do not currently have with their existing health care plan.

[1] A calculator or illustration the Senator Sanders’ campaign needs to be showing frequently to fend off false and misleading representation of his Medicare For All Plan by his opponents.

[2] People need to be shown how Senator Sanders’ Medicare For All Plan actually puts money in their pocket compared to heir present health care plan because there are no outrageous deductibles and co-payments.


People, come on all this free stuff has to be paid for. There are only 403 billionaires in the US and because they are worth a billion doesn’t mean they make billions, that is their worth. Taxing incomes isn’t going to pay for trillions of $'s in new spending. The tax calculator explains how it’s figured so just take out what you spend a year for healthcare and you have what you’ll pay in extra taxes. The argument about including business taxes is irrelevant because it will need to be paid somewhere. It’s stated in this story, it will come from raising prices, reducing jobs…somewhere. So even if your income stays the same but businesses raise prices you’re still paying for it…right? It has to be figured in somewhere. Same with the $15.00 min wage, businesses will raise prices to pay for it. Businesses don’t pay taxes, period, the consumer pays taxes and cost associated to doing business. They are in business to make money and they work off a profit margin that is dictated by competition. And it’s a roll down affect. Example, if you own a lawn maintenance company and your costs increase by 40% due to increased wages and taxes you pass that onto your customer lets say a broom manufacturer, their higher vendor/services cost gets rolled into their overhead plus their higher costs are passed on to Walmart who is ultimately passing on the higher cost from the lawn maintenance co, the broom manufacturer and their own higher cost of doing business. You’re naïve if you think only the rich are going to pay for all this free stuff. Everyone will pay and we will pay a lot. Your 4 years of free education will be paid over and over your entire 40 years of working. You could pay for your own doctorate for what you will pay over the 40 years of your work career. And the degree will mean nothing because everyone will have it so you’ll need a masters to stand out. I think it’s interesting that your OK with paying for millionaires kids college but so anti-rich people and anti-business.


Can someone please provide a link to that Bernie Benefits calculator? I mean, besides the fact that I’m already there, some software programmer out there with some spare time, please put that together and offer it to the Bernie Sanders campaign. If I find out that someone’s done this for US, I’ll paypal them my next Bernie installment, and that’s a promise you can take to the bank! It’ll help Bernie out in the long run!