Intern Kristi Noem says tax day is nothing to celebrate. Funny: people tell me taxes are a patriotic duty.

Anyway, in her tax day tear sheet, Intern Noem demonstrates her grasp of taxes, history, and selective statistics:

The non-partisan Tax Foundation estimates that this year, 100% of the income the average American earns from January 1st to April 12th (102 days) will go to pay federal, state, and local taxes for 2011. Therefore, April 12th is considered "Tax Freedom Day," the day on which the average American will start working for anything besides paying his or her taxes.

To put that in historical perspective, Tax Freedom Day in 1910 came on January 19th. Taxes that year were just 5% of a person's income. Today Tax Freedom Day comes several months later and taxes make up more than 27% of an average person's income [Congressional Intern Kristi Noem, "Tax Day Is Nothing to Celebrate," press release, 2011.04.18].

Ah, yes, 1910. The good old days, before we had a standing international military, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, birth control pills, or an Interstate Highway System. Intern Noem is clearly in favor of returning us to 1910 and eliminating at least some of those modern abominations.

But wait a minute: why does Noem take the historical long view here? What practical policy direction do we gain by comparing the largely horse-and-buggy government of 1910 to the modern Leviathan that spans the globe with might, money, and megabytes [I had to work for that one]? Is she trying to tell us life was better before Ronald Reagan was born? (No, no, no!)

The likely answer: Noem's minions looked at the data on "Tax Freedom Day" and found they had to go that far back to throw the rhetorical punch they wanted. According to the Tax Foundation, Tax Freedom Day is earlier under President Obama than it was any year under President George W. Bush.

Tax Freedom Day, 1900–2011
Year TFD Tax burden
1900 January 22 5.90%
1910 January 19 5.00%
1920 February 13 12.00%
1930 February 12 11.70%
1940 March 7 17.90%
1950 March 31 24.60%
1960 April 11 27.70%
1970 April 19 29.60%
1980 April 21 30.40%
1990 April 21 30.40%
2000 May 1 33.00%
2001 April 27 31.80%
2002 April 17 29.20%
2003 April 14 28.40%
2004 April 15 28.50%
2005 April 21 30.20%
2006 April 24 31.20%
2007 April 24 31.10%
2008 April 16 29.00%
2009 April 8 26.60%
2010 April 9 26.90%

If Noem compared current tax rates to any year since 1960, she'd have had to say, "Gee, Cory and Rachel are right: our taxes are the lowest they've been in my lifetime. Thanks, President Obama and Democrats!" (Thanks also, says the Tax Foundation, to the recession and changes in tax law.)

Kristi Noem's comparison of our current tax burden to the tax burden in 1910 is specious. She has declared her affection for certain government programs that did not exist in 1910. Noem doesn't really want to return government to 1910 levels. She just wants to pick numbers that make her half-baked arguments look good.

Vaguely related: Actually, 1910 was a pretty good year here in South Dakota. Hamlin County, Noem's home turf, had nearly 1600 more people than it does now. A couple counties south, my beloved Lake County, unlike now, was growing... without any RV tax dodgers.

Also related: Kristi was in Madison today for a "community listening event." Did I miss the invitation to the community to attend?