The Corner

Math Fun with President Obama

With math skills like this, no wonder the federal deficit is $1.3 trillion:

The Washington Examiner reports that at a fundraiser in Las Vegas, the president said the following about his jobs bill:

But last week, we had a separate vote on a part of the jobs bill that would put 400,000 teachers, firefighters and police officers back on the job, paid for by asking people who make more than $1 million to pay one-half of 1 percent in additional taxes. For somebody making $1.1 million a year, that’s an extra $500. Five hundred bucks. And with that, we could have saved 400,000 jobs.

Most people making more than $1 million, if you talk to them, they’ll say, I’m willing to pay $500 extra to help the county. They’re patriots. They believe we’re all in this thing together. But all the Republicans in the Senate said no. (Emphasis added).

As every Corner reader who graduated from 4th grade determined immediately upon reading the above quote, one half of 1 percent of $1.1 million is $5,500, not $500. But, hey, even though he said it three times, cut the president some slack — he’s off only by about factor of ten.

But even if the president meant to say $5,500, his math continues to pose some challenges. According to the IRS, a total of 235,413 taxpayers earned more than $1 million last year. If each “was willing to pay $[5,]500 extra to help the country,” that would generate only $1.3 billion in revenue — approximately what the federal government spends every three hours. Wouldn’t it be just as patriotic for President Obama to turn off the federal spigot for three hours and dedicate the savings to funding those 400,000 jobs?

The president at least deserves credit for finally bringing down the cost of all those jobs his administration “saves or creates.” Saving 400,000 jobs at a cost of $1.3 billion comes to just $3,250 per job — far less than the $250,000 per each job allegedly created by the 2009 stimulus bill.

But wait, that means that each of the 400,000 jobs will only pay $ 1.60 an hour — far below the lawful minimum wage. And that’s without benefits. Aren’t those the kind of  jobs Americans won’t do?

Even if the president were to politely “ask” all of those willing millionaire patriots to pay an extra one half of 1 percent of their total aggregate income for 2010, the added revenue would be only about $3.6 billion. But that still comes to only around $4.50 an hour, again without benefits. Not sure how many cops, firefighters, and teachers would be willing to work at that rate — even if the Department of Labor permitted it.

Maybe the president should just ask the 47 percent of American filers who pay no federal income taxes if they’re willing to pony up anything for those shovel-ready jobs. Surely the president doesn’t think millionaires are the only patriots in this country.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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