WSJ on Oregon Tax Vote: "Math is Hard"

When it came to evaluating arguments on Oregon's initiatives to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations, the WSJ told readers that: "big numbers are being wielded on both sides." This is of course true, however WSJ reporters in principle have the time and expertise to determine which numbers are correct, most readers do not.

Specifically, it could have pointed out to readers that the 11 percent state income tax that would be paid by the richest residents of Oregon, if the measures pass, is a marginal tax. This is the tax rate that Oregon residents would pay on income in excess of $500,000 a year. It also would have been worth noting that Oregon has no state sales tax. This means that the Oregonians pay considerably less for most goods that they buy than do people in other states.

It also would have been worth noting that if the tax increases do not take place then Oregon will be required to cut spending and lay off workers in the middle of a steep recession. This will worsen the downturn and lead to higher unemployment.

--Dean Baker

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