One of America's most well-known "business" journalists believes that households who earn more than $200,000 a year are "not rich." In reality, they make up the top 3.5% of all American households.
CNBC's Maria Bartiromo made her mis-observation to the New York Post, who ran it under the headline "Barack's Bite:"
The income tax is also in for a bump. Bartiromo says, "Right now [it] is 35 percent, Obama wants to take that to 39 percent . . . We're talking about people who make over $200,000. That's not rich. So it's actually going to impact more people than you may think."
Batriromo is not alone among extremely wealthy media stars who claim that those making $200K annually are jes' plain folks. ABC's Charlie Gibson was openly mocked during the January presidential debate at St. Anselm's College in New Hampshire:
SEN. CLINTON: Yeah, but Charlie, the tax cuts on the wealthiest of Americans, not the middle class tax cuts. One of the problems with George Bush's tax policy has been the way he has tilted it toward the wealthy and the well-connected.
GIBSON: If you take a family of two professors here at St. Anselm, they're going to be in the $200,000 category that you're talking about lifting the taxes on. And --
SEN. EDWARDS: Oh, I don't think they agree with you.
But it's particularly striking when Batriromo, whose sole beat is the economy, has a completely skewed notion of what's middle-class in America.
To put a fine point on it, guess how many American cities have median household incomes above $200,000.
Sure, $200,000 a year is not Warren Buffet, Bill Gates super-rich territory. These families aren't trust-fund babies, but working households. And yes, these are high cost-of-living areas where $200,000 doesn't go quite as far as other parts of America.
But let's get serious. Top 3% is top 3%. A income tax increase from 35% to 39% -- back to where tax levels were in the 1990s -- will not have a negative "impact" on the quality of life of those hard-working yet financially comfortable households.
To opine otherwise raises serious questions of a reporter's ability to understand the economic subjects that they presume to objectively cover.