David Leonhardt of the New York Times does not have a Nobel Prize. He does not have half a Nobel Prize. So he was joking when he tweeted:
It's a math joke, and it's a popular one these days among liberal journalists. The idea is that you take someone with impressive numbers, average them with a person or people with unimpressive numbers, and come out with a mean number that is fairly high.
For instance, President Trump and I average three bankruptcies between us. (Trump's six, plus my zero average out to three.)
Leonhardt was riffing off of Nobel Prize-winning economist Richard Thaler making that same average joke:
Here's the original comment Thaler and Leonhardt were responding to.
The implication is clear, and very familiar: Very wealthy families get massive tax cuts from the bill, regular families get nothing, and it averages out to $2,000 per family.
But that's not true. House Speaker Paul Ryan's statement was not a cutesy mean as Leonhardt and Thaler suggest. It was an accurate description of what the median family of four would get, by most estimates. In fact, Ryan may be low-balling what the median family saves.
You see, the median household with four people has an income of $91,000 according to Census data. That means if you took every household of four in America, ranked them by income, and picked the middle one, it would have an income of $91,000.
The Tax Policy Center, a left-leaning group, estimates that a family of four earning $75,000 would save more than $2,100 from this bill, maybe as much as $2,600 if their children are older. You would imagine the higher income — the median family of four — would save an even higher dollar amount.
I understand a family of four and a household of four are not identical, but it seems that Ryan is in the right ballpark here: The median family of four saves about (probably more than) $2,100 thanks to this bill.