Alberta Darling: Those making over $250,000 per year “aren’t wealthy people”

Apparently Republican State Senator Alberta Darling (R-Mansion), the subject of a tough recall fight in Wisconsin’s 8th State Senate district, doesn’t think people making over $250,000 per year are wealthy. During a recent appearance on Mark Belling’s radio show, Sen. Darling made it abundantly clear she’s completely out of touch when it comes to what it means to be wealthy (emphasis added):

I just went to a woman today and she said, “Why are you giving tax breaks to the wealthy?” I said, “What do you consider wealthy?” She said, “$250,000 and above.”

And I said “that is small business.” Those are small business people. Those aren’t wealthy people. We are not interested in raising taxes on the quote “rich.”

While Alberta Darling may not think people making $250,000 or more per year are wealthy, as Jay Bullock notes, people earning $250,000 per year or more are in the top 1% of households in this country and are in the top one half of 1% in Wisconsin.

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised at how out of touch Alberta Darling is when it comes to what it means to be rich, considering she also believes teachers should be thanking Republicans for saving them money by taking more money out of their pockets.


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28 thoughts on “Alberta Darling: Those making over $250,000 per year “aren’t wealthy people”

  1. Let’s do the math just for math sake. Let’s assume that’s a couple making 250K a year. So one of them is making 125K a year by themselves. Let’s break that down.

    That’s roughly $10,416 a month. That’s roughly $2,600 a week. That’s roughly $371 a day.

    When you break it down like that it doesn’t look that rich. However, 98% of us make a little over $400 a week. They make nearly $400 a day. That’s basically a 7 to 1 ratio. They can’t give up a 1/4 day to make it a 6.75 to 1 ratio?

    1. But did you consider the cost to get to that income?

      Everyone I know in that range is a working professional which means a lot of extra schooling and school loans. For example, I have friends that collectively have over 500k in school loans. Between car, mortgage, and school loans and taxes Theres not much left. They would have more available
      income if they made 30k and didn’t go to professional school.

      But everyone assumes they are wealthy because they both have high incomes.

      1. How many of those friends that you have own cars that are 5+ years old and live in houses worth less than $200,000?

        On the flip side, how many of those friends own cars that cost more than $20,000 and houses worth more than $200,000?

        See, you seem to think they’d be better off making 30k per year because they’d have more available income, but I’ve been there, and there isn’t much “available income” when you’re supporting a family of four on an income of 30-40k.

      2. Something doesn’t add up, SI. 500K would be the cost of an ivy league law or medical degree. People who go to Ivy League schools for 10 years are either heritage admits whose parents can pay their way, or the brightest of the bright who get a large chunk paid for in scholarships (see POTUS). Maybe your friends are the rare, rare case who didn’t have rich parents, but weren’t very smart, and put themselves through 10 years of Yale on pure loans.

        If that’s the (doubtful) case, they could’ve gotten a nearly-as-high-quality education from a state u, for a tenth of the cost and worked 2 jobs like most of us did in college to at least put a dent in the loans.

        Either way, your post reminds me of the series of articles the NYT did a couple years ago on the sad cases of the rich-but-not-quite-rich-enough, and how it should give us all a sad that they can barely afford their E-class Benz anymore, much less upgrade to the Maserati a just world knows they deserve.

        1. I’ll run the numbers for you. 4 years dental school. Tuition is $48k plus living expenses books etc… so say $60k to be conservative. So $240k then add undergrad, with room and board at Marquette is listed at a little more than $40k per year (X 4 years or $160k) totaling $400k.

          The lawyer spouse would have 3 years of law school, with room board and books about $57,k a year, for 3 years 171 plus under grad totaling 160k. So for the couple they would have $731,000.00 in tuition.

          That’s not even IVY league. Just tuition at Harvard Under grad is $52k, then add living expenses in Boston and you’d quickly get to an astronomical amount.

          Zach, I have a lot of friends in both categories. But probably most are mixed ie. an older car but a house over $200k.

          I’ve also been in the sub $30k right when I graduated from undergrad. I wasn’t supporting a family of 4 and I recognize that would be difficult. But at that point in my life, $30k with no liabilities and few responsibilities I felt more wealthy than I do now.

          So to come full circle and bring it back to the question asked to Sen. Darling, I would answer that “wealthy” is when you can live off the money that your money makes for you. But we don’t tax wealth in this country we tax work.

          1. Yeah, but, they have an earning power that can clear that debt in less that 10 years. Then they’re in the gravy years of their lives. So…. I’m pretty sure they can afford a 10% bump in taxes (from 30% to 33%, no 10 basis points). from those who much is given, much is expected.

    1. As someone with 8 years combined of undergrad and post-grad under my belt, I’m not debating whether debt is or is not a consideration for those seeking the degrees.

      I’m calling b.s. on your $500K number.

      Now let’s enter the harsh end of the real world, and use the 125k debt number you tried to slyly slip in there after being called on it, which is much more realistic. So…anyone smart enough to be a lawyer is good enough at life to not get suckered into any student loans with interest rates higher than 4% (none of mine were higher than 3.25%, but I’m feeling generous), usually with 15 year repayment schedules (and very, very forgiving terms). Simple P(1+i)^n arithmetic says that works out to about a $950 monthly debt payment, or $1900 for 2. Which is not nothing, but considering they bring home 250000*0.65/12=$13,500 at least a month, it also illustrates why those of us who’ve experienced the never-ending choices between eating an egg sammich, scraping together the $5 for Johnny’s school field trip, or paying the electric bill have zero sympathy for such folks.

      So yes, no matter how you slice it, a $250k household is well off. If you don’t understand that, you’re out of touch with how most of America lives.

  2. When I attended Beloit College, it was $12K a year. I did not leave with 48K in debt.

    There is also a big range when you just say a house over $200k. That could be $210,000 or it could mean $550,000. Big difference in payments.

    I believe the average median income in the US is somewhere around $50k a year. So someone making $250k, while they are not “rich” they are doing quite well. That being said many many small business owners are NOT making $250k year. Most of the so called mom and pop small businesses in this country and state are not making that kind of money.
    However, that also being said, if they are making $250k a year PROFIT, AFTER all deductions etc(because small business owners are allowed many deductions) they should start to pay a healthy amount of taxes on that PROFIT.

    1. “There is also a big range when you just say a house over $200k. That could be $210,000 or it could mean $550,000. Big difference in payments.”

      I agree but 200,000 was the price Zach referenced in his question to me.

      Here’s a question for you: who do you consider to be wealthier: a person with a high income with debt or a person with a lower income with savings?

      I would answer the person with the savings as they would have a positive net worth but I’m curious to your thoughts.

      1. Your question is essentially meaningless. Low income households by and large don’t have the luxury to save and thus low income earners with savings by and large don’t exist.

      2. SI, too many variables here. Does the lower income people have $100 saved or 10,000? Because without significant savings one tragedy(even a minor one) could wipe them out.

        How much debt does the higher income people have? especially in comparison to their income? Contrary to what the “tea partiers” say, having some debt is a good thing. Who wants to wait until they can pay cash for a house before they own one? So I guess the answer is it depends.

  3. Look…If my other half and I had an income of 250K a year, we would do the following:

    Get our cars (One 1993 Oldsmobile, One 1998 Toyota) fixed and overhauled.
    Pay off all our debts.
    Help family members who are struggling.
    Save money towards buying a small house.
    Put money away for my grandchild’s college fund and Donald’s nephew’s college fund.
    Go back to school and earn degrees.
    Live modestly and frugally.

    What we wouldn’t do is go out and buy brand new vehicles, a high-priced home with a high mortgage, and go shopping at high-end stores for our apparel and furniture.

    We would also gladly pay more in taxes.

    The mindset in this country about money is: If you have a lot of it, live lavishly. As JCG mentions above, the poor—like me and Donald—don’t have the luxury of lavishness. We have to decide each week whether or not we can afford to pay this or that bill. Donald grosses 400.00 per week. I take home between 200.00 and 230.00 a week. Our combined income per month is roughly 2000.00 after taxes. Out of that we pay 450.00 for rent; between 80.00 and 100.00 for utilities; 300.00 for car insurance; 125.00 for gasoline; 10.00 a month for DSL internet service (We can’t afford cable); an estimated 360.00 for debts, including medical expenses because neither of our jobs gives us health insurance; 120.00 a month for our medicines, which we pay for out-of-pocket.

    So, that leaves us about 545.00 a month to pay for food, clothing, household expenses, and other incidentals. We cannot afford to eat out, except at the cheapest places—and then only once in a while. We don’t go to the movies, unless there is a matinee—and that happens even more rarely than dining out. Our primary entertainments are reading, the internet, television, and our two pet rats. That’s it.

    So, please…Don’t tell me that 250K isn’t wealthy. By any standard, it is.

    1. Jan, I think that’s a great list. I would suggest adding saving for your own retirement as well. I think you would find that most people with the 250,000 incomes would share those priorities.

      But would you still gladly pay more in taxes if the increase prevented you from doing those things?

      Setting our philosophic differences aside, I do hope things get better for you. I know what it’s like to be poor. I was unemployed for a year shortly after college and waited tables to make ends meet. It was not a fun period.

  4. $250K in taxable income is after plenty of deductions have been made (home mortgage, state and local taxes, standard deduction, deductions for dependents).

    In a small business setting, this is the pay after all the costs of business have been deducted. Very few small business owners take home anything close to $250K in a year. They can easily invest in their business and reduce their taxable income as well.

  5. Making $250K a year is making $250K a year.

    We’re not talking about gross income here, we’re talking about net personal income from a small business. If you’re taking $250K out of the business as personal income, you’re doing amazingly well. You’re not taking that money out and then re-investing it in a job in your small business. You’re taking it out. Period.

    That being said though: if 250k is not wealthy, then what is everyone below that?

    Personally, when I do reach the 250k, I’m probably not going to be sure how to use it when I get my business up and running. That’s more money than I can properly comprehend since my family raised me on 18k. In that sense, I was the Goodwill Poster girl. 😀

    1. If it isn’t clear, now that I am actually making over a $100 an hour it … really is weird that I don’t know what to spend it on. I just keep putting majority of it into Credit Unions, charities, and my retirement fund. (Which I don’t have an idea to do with either.)

    1. Some thoughts on these “wealthy” businessman:

      That small business person who nets $250,000 this year may have netted $30,000 last year. But he will pay a progressive tax rate on the year he does better. No averaging allowed.

      Since he will likely not have a C-Corp, he can not hold earnings for any future expansion. He pays income tax on the entire profit for the year. Large corporations are C-Corps and have that ability.

      His life savings could be invested in his business and there are high odds that it will fail in the next decade.

      If you are an attorney or doctor, the chance of having a quick drop in income is remote. That is if you don’t engage in some improper behavior.

      Aside from the above, I just wonder what this country would be like today if talented young people had not had the opportunity to become “wealthy” through hard work and sometimes luck. There would be no Google, no Netflix, and certainly no Obama. Think about it. Would you rather keep carping about “wealthy” people or be glad that it worked out well for them. And enjoy what their efforts have brought to us.

      Many succeed, many fail. But we all have the opportunity in this country. Many countries do not offer such a chance. I, for one, am happy for the innovators. I wish I had thought of the things that carried them to the top.

        1. Aesop directed his fables to children. Obama would make a better Aesop than I would. He directs his fables at children also. “Hope and Change” is his biggest hit so far.

  6. Let’s drop the Fake News talking point about tax increases adversely affecting small business. Republicans don’t give a rat’s ass about small business—they only care about huge corporations getting an even bigger slice of the pie.

    250k in income is, by any global standard, wealthy. Unless, of course, you are a member of the Saudi royal family or George W. Bush and his ilk.

    The issue at hand is someone’s personal income of 250k or more—whether it be gross or net. There isn’t anyone on this blog, or anywhere else for that matter, that can claim they can’t live on an income of 250k per year, and live well. It’s further ridiculous for right-wingers to believe that ANYONE can derive that kind of income if they work hard and exercise good judgement. That’s the meme they spout constantly. If one is poor, than obviously one is lazy and unambitious. Never mind that an enormous chunk of the population in this country hasn’t access to basic health care.

    I assert that any doctor, lawyer, or other professional who experiences a sudden drop in their income and finds it a struggle is lazy and unambitious. They should have saved for a rainy day. Or sell their 500k and up home. Drive around Madison and look at the homes of doctors, lawyers, and other professionals—then come back to me with a tale of woe.

  7. So what does Alberta Darling make per year and her benefits? I have been trying to find out but it is not an easy task. BTW: Why does she have 6 aides and the others have 1 – 2 aides?

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