« Thoughts Going Out | Main | Wall Street »

September 14, 2008

Comments

The public simply does not believe that Obama will follow through on the policies that he's proposed. Given his lack of record demonstrating a commitment to tax cuts, and his ever-changing proposals, I can't say I fault the skeptics.

Of course, most Americans believe they, personally, are in the top 1% in income....

The public simply does not believe that Obama will follow through on the policies that he's proposed.

No, they believe his proposals will raise taxes on them. It's not a matter of following through on his proposals; they believe his proposals will raise their taxes, period.

Greenspan doubts McCain's plan, as does McCain's chief economic advisor, who also admitted that Obama's plan would reduce taxes for most people.

The public simply does not believe that Obama will follow through on the policies that he's proposed.

Right, Adam. That's why virtually every mainstream brand -Republican who ever runs for anything mischaracterizes any Democrat's tax proposals; the Public knows what Obama's tax proposals are, despite the best efforts of the McCain campaign, but they don't like Obama because they don't believe he will actually try to enact them? The GOP misinformation is there ...what, just in case?

This is a ridiculous argument. Don't you even care about that?

It's not the taxes, it's who the taxes go to...

They go to Them. You know, Them.

GOP : Gall Obfuscation Perfidy

"They go to Them. You know, Them."

"And I for one aren't sure about the gubmint taking my hard-earned cash to subsidize a bunch of lazy giant mutant ants . . . what? Oh. Oh, you mean Them. In that case, definitely not."

hilzoy,

I'd like to make a minor nitpick, from a technical writing standpoint. IMHO this post suffers from what Edward Tufte termed "chart junk".

The visual weights used in both sets of charts unintentionally subvert the argument you are making, because the first (upper) chart uses the positive y-axis to show something good which voters should want (an increase in their income), while the 2nd (lower) chart uses the positive y-axis to show something bad (an increase in their taxes) which is opposite in sense to the directional character of the 1st chart for the same data.

Using charts and graphs as visual aids is helpful and important, but it is best to make sure that when presenting two sets of such which are intended to be compared and to contrast with each other, that you don't invert the directional sense of an important variable when going from one set to the other.

I recommend that this could be improved by using charts both of which show an increase in taxes along the positive y-axis (which would make the Obama bars in the 1st chart smaller than the corresponding McCain bars for most of the intervals and especially the ones on the left side of the chart).

Again, this is nitpicky. I understood your argument as stated from the written text - I just had to override my subconcious sense of what the visual weights in the graphics were telling me as I was reading it.

/end nitpick

ThatLeftTurnInABQ: there's a nice reworking of the graph at http://chartjunk.karmanaut.com/taxplans/

TTLABQ: True. If I knew how to make charts, I would fix it. As it is, I have to rely on the kindness of strangers -- strangers who know how to use Excel, which I do not.

TLTIA, I take your point and everyone should read Tufte, but I really don't think this is the kind of thing he'd call "chartjunk"; he tends to reserve his colorful disdain for more baroque offenses. In this case, the two graphs aren't that directly comparable and there's no way they could be -- the categories on the X axis are not the same at all, since the second graph isn't broken down by income groups and includes a whole other time point with different candidates. It's not ideal, but just applying your "up = good" principle would not automatically make the point clear.

And it's a bit much to ask Hilzoy to re-crunch the numbers and produce her own graphs, when she's just commenting on two graphs published separately elsewhere. Should she also rewrite other people's news articles for clarity, if she's pointing out that they're full of b.s.?

Thanks, Andrew, for the reference, which I will reiterate, to http://chartjunk.karmanaut.com/taxplans/ -- I had just been wishing for approximate incomes on that axis instead of quintiles. It's easier for people to visualize if they can plug in their $45,000 or whatever.


In this case, the two graphs aren't that directly comparable and there's no way they could be -- the categories on the X axis are not the same at all

"Chart junk" was too harsh. Otherwise I'm not sure I agree.

The top chart and the bottom left hand chart both contrast Obama vs. McCain. The breakdowns by income group in the top chart are a second order division within that basic grouping. I think there is a little bit of a problem having both of them in such close physical proximity and with the written text asking the reader to contrast the two sets of data.

I know the first time I saw this combination (in an earlier post on the same topic by hilzoy) my first reaction was to think "wut?" and then force myself to ignore the graphics in favor of the written text, because the graphical presentation was so distracting that it hindered rather than helped my comprehension, even after I'd read the fine print in the legend on the top level chart which identified it as showing after-tax income increases (rather than tax increases).

This is a purely subjective appraisal, your (and others) mileage not only may vary, but will almost certainly do so.

Also, I did say I was nitpicking.

Sadly most American cannot read graphs.

Bah. Who do I vote for if I believe that I and people in my income bracket ought to pay higher taxes? I want more and better government services and I want us - and me - to pay for them.

The narrative that Democrats increase taxes while Republicans decrease taxes is so strong, having been repeated mindlessly for - how long? - that most people have an extremely difficult time weaning themselves form this view even when presented with counter facts and experiences.

Who do I vote for if I believe that I and people in my income bracket ought to pay higher taxes?

If above $250K, Osama bin Laden.

If below $250K, John McCain.

I want more and better government services and I want us - and me - to pay for them.

My God, you're a bloody socialist. Vote Cynthia McKinney.

If above $250K, Osama bin Laden.

Excuse me, I am about to die of a massive blush. Pardon me while I go away and do so.

Before I go, can I ask the kitten to delete the above comment and this one? Not to spare my enormous, terrible embarrassment, but because I really, really would not care for the Washington Monthly trolls to come and pick on this...

Seriously. I cannot believe I managed to type that and hit post without noticing. I'm sorry.

the conclusion that Dems increase taxes and Reps decrease them is an emotional one, not a logical one.

i can't recommend this article enough.

The public simply does not believe that Obama will follow through on the policies that he's proposed. Given his lack of record demonstrating a commitment to tax cuts, and his ever-changing proposals, I can't say I fault the skeptics.

Of course, it couldn't *possibly* have anything to do with the lying ads McCain's running claiming that Obama is going to raise middle-class taxes. Nope, nosiree, not a chance.
No, the public has *seen through* those lies. And, having all of the information at hand, they've decided to trust the guy who's lying about the other guy's proposed tax policies.
Makes perfect sense.

I'm still voting for him, but I don't really believe that Obama can pull off what he wants to do without raising taxes on the middle class. McCain can't either, so it is no knock on him, but neither of their proposals is particularly realistic.

"TTLABQ: True. If I knew how to make charts, I would fix it."

I posted this a couple of weeks ago, with a link here, and I was thinking you were one of the people who could best put those lovely tools to wonderful work, Hilzoy. Start here and then here.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad