US Catholic Faith in Real Life

"Class warfare" calculations

By Elizabeth Lefebvre | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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I wonder how many refrigerators Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) can afford to buy so that he won’t be mistaken for being poor.

In an interview with MSNBC about President Obama’s plan to cut the deficit that includes tax increases for the wealthy, Fleming estimates that after earning nearly $6 million dollars from his businesses, his net income is actually only around $600,000 (a “mere fraction” of the original amount), and that by the time he “feeds his family” he is left with a measly $400,000 to invest back into his businesses. (Fleming must have a huge refrigerator for all that food!)

So in other words, after providing for his family, Fleming is left with nearly eight times the average U.S. salary, and more than 18 times the yearly income that measures the current poverty line in our country—around $22,000 for a family of four. The amount Fleming subtracted to cover his family’s basic needs ($200,000) is almost ten times more than what is available to this family to do the same. This family most likely procures this income from working low-paying jobs rather than “riding on handouts” from the government. I used to live in Washington state, where unemployed people receiving government assistance are given a monthly check for $339, which calculates out to about $4,000 a year – or one percent of the money that Fleming has left over.

When asked in the interview if he understands that people are likely not to be sympathetic toward his $400,000 situation, Fleming responded with the battle cry of “class warfare.” Susan Brooks Thistlewaite today provided some nice commentary on the relationship of Christianity to so-called class warfare, noting how faith is entering the economic battleground of our country. Fleming also did not say that an increase in taxes would mean that he would have to eliminate jobs. In fact, it seems like Fleming could afford to create a few more jobs and still clock in well above the poverty line.

See also:

Will the new poverty numbers finally be a wake-up call?