The Tax Foundation Piece that Told the Truth About the Wall Street Journal, and That Tax Foundation President Scott Hodge Took Down
Courtesy of Brendan Nyhan, who writes:
The disappearing Tax Foundation blog post - Brendan Nyhan: Last week, Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler praised a Tax Foundation post about a misleading Wall Street Journal editorial graphic: "Excellent Tax Foundation take down of misleading WSJ editorial chart. Bravo fact checking!" Given my many previous critiques of bogus WSJ graphics, I was shocked to discover that a conservative group best known for its misleading "Tax Freedom Day" events had aggressively debunked the Journal's pro-tax cut agitprop:
The Wall Street Journal wrote an editorial last month making the point that there's no way to close our budget deficit by taxing only the rich. It's a point the Tax Foundation agrees strongly with.... However, the editorial also includes a chart... a textbook example of how to lie with statistics. It's unfortunate that the Wall Street Journal chose to undermine the rest of its editorial by including such a breathtakingly misleading image.
It purports to show visually that the majority of taxable income in this country is made by those in the middle class—after all, the highest bar is for people making $100-$200K, which is in the middle of the graph! However, the heights of the bars depend as much on the width of your "bins" as on the actual statistic the bars measure. Look more closely: the bar immediately previous to this one is for the income range of $75K to $100K—an income range only one-quarter the size. Of course you're going to get a higher bar when you quadruple the income range it measures. The point here is that you can finagle the ranges for the bars any way you want, and get vastly different charts....
I can produce a chart similar to the Wall Street Journal's, but one that uses the income levels corresponding to the percentiles.... Looks a little bit different, doesn't it?... [W]e shouldn't resort to misleading charts that pretend to show that those with high incomes don't make the majority of the money in this country— they do.