This week, readers sent us comments about the special election for governor in West Virginia and a suggestion for a new FactCheck.org feature.
In the FactCheck Mailbag, we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters may be edited for length.
A Thank You From West Virginia
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this article ["West Virginia Race Goes to the Dogs," Sept. 26].
These ridiculous accusations and distortions are driving me crazy. I may turn off the TV for the next six weeks because of all this idiocy. Why aren’t these pols describing how they can improve the state instead of tearing down their opponent?
If the millions that have been spent on these defamatory ads were invested in economic development incentives or workforce preparation programs, this state would be taking another baby step in the right direction.
Stats Page Suggestion
First off let me state that I absolutely love FactCheck. I strongly recommend it to family and friends (along with Snopes and PolitiFact) since the answers are clear, comprehensive and non-partisan.
What I would really love to see from FactCheck would be a page of clear unambiguous statistics that provides missing context to much of the political debate.
The issue behind this is the debate about fairness in taxes between the wealthy — particularly the top 1 percent (or millionaires and billionaires depending on the speaking) — and the rest of the populace. I have seen conservative news sources and politicians loudly proclaiming that the wealthiest 1 percent already pay 40.1 percent (or 28.1 percent — depending on the source) of the income taxes. My question then is, “of what?” It may be true that they pay 40.1 percent of the income taxes — but if they are being paid 90.5 percent of ALL income, there’s a serious disconnect between the number and the context. Also, a lot of confusion is created by politicians decrying “millionaires” when they should be referring to people with incomes of $1 million.
Maybe you can even have a regular column/feature — you could even title it, “Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.” That column would look further in-depth into the numbers and statistics being tossed about by our beloved politicians — teasing out the shadings more clearly.
FactCheck.org responds: The Congressional Budget Office’s most recent data for 2007 showed that the top 1 percent of households — those with at least $352,900 in income — paid 39.5 percent of federal income taxes, and received 19.4 percent of before-tax income and 17.1 percent of after-tax income.