Skip to comments.Daily Beast Column: GOPís 'Class Warfare' Sham (Obama's Plan moves toward fairness & fiscal sanity)
Posted on 09/20/2011 3:13:07 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
The GOP calls it 'class warfare,' but the presidents proposal to raise taxes on millionaires is actually a move toward fairness and fiscal sanity.
The biggest problem in our politics for the last 30 years has been . . . what? Fill in the blank. Too much spending? Debt to future generations? Cultural politics? None of those. Plain and simple: taxes. The anti-tax revolt that started in 1978 in California (Proposition 13) has destroyed this country. Our taxophobia has made the rich vastly richer and reduced the amount of money for the public benefits the rest of us depend on, and a hundred other horrible things besides. If Ive written one sentence over the years more than any other, its the sentence that goes something like, Democrats will never move the country in their direction again until they can change the debate around taxes. Wellthe moment has arrived.
Barack Obama has proposed a higher tax on households in which $1 million or more per year is earned. Thats considerably less than the top 1 percent of U.S. households, which starts at around $388,000 per annum. We dont yet know what the new rate will be, or how much it will raise. I suppose we can presume that, since it will be known as the Buffett Rule after the suggestions of Warren Buffett, the plan will include taxing capital gains and carried interest at the same rate (for millionaires only, that is, not for middle-income Wall Street dice-rollers) as regular income. Regular income at that high level is now taxed at 35 percent, while capital gains are currently taxed at 15 percent, but a comprehensive package would probably settle both rates somewhere in the middle. So in other words, when it all comes out of the wash, taxes will go up by not all that much on less than one half of 1 percent of the population.
Its a smart move politically (finally!). Another sentence Ive written a lot over the years is the one where I complain that the Democrats have fallen into a GOP trap by agreeing even to have the debate on taxes be about households at $250,000 a year or more. Thats just 2 percent of the population, or maybe 3, but its still a tougher argument. In nearly any major city in America, a high-school principal married to police sergeant, both with enough years seniority, easily make $250,000 together. So a lot of people who still think of themselves as middle class think: Me? Why penalize me? But a million? No principals are making that. Not many small business people are making thatyou know, the folks the Republicans say theyre watching out for, a line they could also kinda-sorta get away with when we were talking $250,000. But a million a year: Thats truly the rich.
And yet! Its still class warfare, said Paul Ryan Sunday. He went on: It may make for really good politics, but it makes for rotten economics. We don't need a system that seeks to divide people. We don't need a system that seeks to prey on people's fear, envy, and anxiety. We need a system that creates jobs and innovation, and removes these barriers for entrepreneurs to go out and rehire people. I'm afraid these kinds of tax increases don't work.
Is he stupid, a liar, or something even more malevolent, a morally diseased ogre who secretly believes with his delirious mentor Ms. Rosenbaum that the rich deserve every handout government can offer them? First of all, he is (sadly) wrong with his first sentence. What Obama is trying to do here has unfortunately not made for good politics for the last 30 years in this country. But it has happened once or twicewell, onceand when it did, it made for quite good economics. Under what recent president was the economy strongest? Bill Clinton. Under what recent president were tax rates the highest? Bill Clinton. I dont claim direct cause and effect. A hundred factors affect economic performance. But I certainly and emphatically claim that recent history disproves Ryans last sentence to such an extent that he cant possibly be taken seriously.
And yet, his talking point has, except for the one Clinton episode from 1993, stopped Democrats cold for three decades. Now, crunch time has arrived. Obama has to win this fight on taxes. Im told that in the White House, they finally understand that trying to compromise with these Republicans is a mugs game. Obama grandly threatened Monday to veto any deficit-reduction bill that didnt include tax hikes on the wealthy. It will probably never come to that. The Democratic Senate wouldnt pass a bill hed even have to veto.
What it hopefully will come to is this: No deficit-reduction bill passes because Republicans wont raise taxes on millionaires. Obama rides this to reelection. The Democrats keep the Senate and pick up House seats because of this issue, and they scare a few Republicans into voting with them. Obama wins this argument sometime in 2013. That will be the first time in 20 years that taxes on anyone have gone up.
This tax fight will be the great test of the Obama presidency. All elsestimulus, bailouts, financial reform, even health carewas prelude. The tax debate is the money shot. If he wins this one, all the failures, even the calamitous debt-ceiling agreement, can be forgiven. Mr. President: Show us the money.
“Our taxophobia has made the rich vastly richer and reduced the amount of money for the public benefits the rest of us depend on, and a hundred other horrible things besides.”
Do you think he actually believes this patent falsehood?
“We dont yet know what the new rate will be, or how much it will raise”
We know one thing, in that it couldn’t possibly be enough to matter whatsoever to our revenue/spending problem, whichever side you emphasize. It couldn’t possibly be enough for the president to partly base his election campaign on it, which apparently he’s planning. Nor for this shrill article to be written, by the way.
Can’t get blood from a turnip, is what I’m saying.
Sure worked well in Mew York 9 and Neveda a week ago.
This is major foolishness. Federal taxes have remained roughly constant in nonrecession years at around 18% of GDP. What has exploded from around 20% of GDP to 28% of GDP under Obama is Federal spending. So, why are taxes, rather than spending the problem? Answer—spending is the problem.
“Our taxophobia has made the rich vastly richer and reduced the amount of money for the public benefits the rest of us depend on...”
Rest of “us”? Whom might I ask are these “us”?
The top 50% already pay 96% of all taxes, and this is an increase from past years. What more does he want “the rich” to pay? Higher taxes can keep other people from having the opportunity increase their wealth, however, so that the current “rich” can have an exclusive club without fear of others interferring in their power.
Daily Beast, Daily Planet, Daily whatever, I have no use for any of them. Beast is abtly named for sure, with the likes of meghan mccain
Unless you're an heir to a fortune, like a Kennedy or Rockefeller, or a flat out crook like Bernie Madoff, the vast majority of "rich" people earned their moolah.
Demovik propagandists worthy of Pravda.
Since I am not “rich”, I assume the author includes me in his group called “the rest of us”.
What are the “public benefits” he thinks I, and most others who are “not rich” depend upon?
Something I still can’t understand. Why is it that if anyone works hard earns enough to start a business and works his tail off making it a sucess, they have to pay more precentage in taxes than the one that sits on their butt and draws welfare?
First let me say, I am not rich, retired military and social security.
The political class has been pushing class warfare against the rest of us for decades.
Michael Tomasky (born 1960) is a liberal American columnist
I’m always on the paying end of the public benefits gravy train. I’m tired of paying for the dependent class. There is an option. I can stop working so hard and lower my income into that 47% that pay nothing.
Indeed. This is why the Buffets of this world like the idea. It taxes the up and comers.
“Rest of ‘us’? Whom might I ask are these ‘us’?”
Certainly not the Forgotten Men.
“Why is it that if anyone works hard earns enough to start a business and works his tail off making it a sucess, they have to pay more precentage in taxes than the one that sits on their butt and draws welfare?”
Because that’s an easy way for the government to get money. Both because that’s where money is—in the pockets of people who earned it—and those people represent a minority of the electorate.