In their ongoing effort to persuade the public to quit whinging about higher taxes the Dead Tree NY Times delivers a misleading headline for the record books:
Complaints Aside, Most Face Lower Tax Burden Than In The Reagan 80's
The text goes on to compare the total Federal, state and local tax burden in 1980 with that of 2010, which prompts a question - when did Reagan take office and launch his first round of tax cuts? 1981, yes? Surely the Times editors remember the timing of the Descent of Darkness.
So maybe a better headline would be "Taxes Lower than in the Carter Era", which would deliver a less surprising message and make a less compelling case that we are currently under-taxed.
I infer that the Times editors have realized their problem. Online, the current headline is:
Complaints Aside, Most Face Lower Tax Burden Than in 1980
No kidding - most face a lower burden than in 1980, when everyone felt over-taxed. We can spot the evolution (or is it intelligent design?) of their headline by way of the website URL (my emphasis):
Welcome back, Carter.
ERRATA: The CBO calculates the total Federal tax burden, including imputed corporate taxes. For the three lower quintiles of earners the Reagan years were not so great, tax-wise - the cut in the Federal income tax was roughly offset by the increase in the Social Security tax.
Finding the total Federal, state and local burden back to 1980 has me stumped just now, although this Tax Foundation report reaches back to 1991.