Is Your Family “Hardworking”?

Tuesday, Brad DeLong explored the mystery of “Hardworking Individuals and Married Couples.” Who are these people? Mark Schmitt recently spotted them in a Treasury Department Press Release:

Treasury didn’t use the standard categories that would go into a distributional analysis, such as income quintiles or households with income in certain ranges. Instead, they used a category of their own devising: “Hardworking Individuals and Married Couples.”

I like to call these people HIMC’s for short (pronounced “HIM-SEEs”, which flows more smoothly off the toungue than trying to rhyme it with “chimps”.)

But who are the HIMCs? It sounds like the married couple working three jobs to put their kids through college. Maybe longshoremen; or maybe firemen and other first-responders — they’re a pretty hard working lot? Teachers? Sure, that’s hard work, too. I bet it includes just about everyone with a job except professors and bloggers.

Brad explains:

To me, the most interesting thing is the phrase “hardworking individuals and married couples.” It is clear from the rest of the document that the draft that emerged from Treasury OTA [Office of Tax Assessment] and was sent to Treasury Public Affairs had a different phrase in those five places: “individuals and married couples with taxable incomes exceeding $200,000.” (And note that if your taxable income exceeds $200,000, your AGI [Adjusted Gross Income] is in all likelihood on the order of $250,000 and your FEI [Family Economic Income] somewhere near $280,000.) Treasury Public Affairs took a look at the document and decided that the phrase “individuals and married couples with taxable incomes exceeding $200,000” could not stand–so few journalists covering the Treasury have taxable incomes over $200,000 that the piece would backfire. So they decided to change it to “hardworking individuals and married couples.”

Oh. Those HIMCs. I see.(*)


(*) My point is not that there’s anything wrong with making $200,000+, or that it’s not hard work. But I suspect a number of people voters in less highly remunerative occupations work pretty hard too.