Bill O’Reilly threatens to strike

The moon-loving talk show host announced:

My corporations employ scores of people. They depend on me to do what I do so they can make a nice salary. If Barack Obama begins taxing me more than 50 percent, which is very possible, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to do this. I like my job, but there comes a point when taxation becomes oppressive. Is the country really entitled to half a person’s income?

O’Reilly is soooooo out of it on this one. Wasn’t he paying attention when economist Greg Mankiw pointed out that the marginal tax rate is not 38%, not 50%, but 90%? (Even had Republican John McCain been elected in 2008, Mankiw projected a marginal tax rate of 83%.)

If O’Reilly thinks he’s paying only 50%, he’s got a long painful conversation with his accountant in his future.

(To be serious for a minute, I think it’s silly to think that O’Reilly is working because of the marginal dollars he’s making. As with Mankiw, I think he might actually enjoy what he’s doing, or at the very least feel a civic duty to give his views the prominence they get from being on national TV.)

6 Responses to Bill O’Reilly threatens to strike

  1. David September 21, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    I hope the nasty blowhard *does* give the airwaves a break.

  2. Trevor September 22, 2011 at 1:30 am #

    In line with David, I think O’Reilly has a peculiar notion of how hostage situations are supposed to work.

  3. Robert de Neufville September 22, 2011 at 3:15 am #

    Your post led me to read Mankiw’s remarkable op-ed. I agree with you that neither he nor O’Reilly is likely that motivated by the money they make. In any case, Mankiw surely knows that raising the marginal tax rate may actually encourage some people to work more. But it’s really the speciousness of Mankiw’s argument that really bothers me.

    It’s not that Mankiw’s assumptions about how much his investments are likely to return over the next 30 years are fairly optimistic. It’s not even the strangeness of the idea that he’s primarily concerned with what his money will be worth in 30 years (although I do remember my professors at Harvard talking about something called a “discount rate”).

    What really bothers me is the idea is this trick of using compound interest to multiply the marginal tax rate. Mankiw surely knows that this can be done without limit. Look 1000 years in the future and the marginal tax rate will approach 100%! Indeed, by the same logic over a sufficiently long time frame the expense of buying a cup of coffee becomes practically infinite, so that it’s difficult to understand why Mankiw or anyone else would ever consume anything at all!

    If Mankiw’s or O’Reilly’s point is that even the comparatively modest tax rates—didn’t we once have an *actual* 90% top rate?—we have in the U.S. today can be a major drag on the economy in the long-term, that’s fine. We can have a serious discussion about the very real costs of taxation. I would hope they would also acknowledge that the return on providing public goods compounds as well. But this is supposed to be a picture of our real value of aftertax income, it is utterly ridiculous.

  4. David Littleboy September 22, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    Shouldn’t someone be auditing Mankiw for conflict of interest with his academic position if he’s accepting serious money for speaking?

  5. Andrew Gelman September 22, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    All I can say is . . . I’m disappointed nobody posted a comment to defend O’Reilly!

    • matt w September 23, 2011 at 9:58 am #

      O’Reilly… um… has, as far as I know, never killed anyone?

      That’s all I got.