Class war­fare, Obama-style

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Lib­er­als have driven the debt­ceil­ing de­bate into the class­war­fare swamp, promis­ing most Amer­i­cans they will con­tinue to get some­thing for noth­ing. This is a pain­less propo­si­tion for dem­a­gogues; the vast ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans are not “rich” so it’s easy to pro­pose that those earn­ing more money should fix the prob­lems cre­ated by bigspend­ing politi­cians. This un­der­mines Amer­ica’s en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit.

Pres­i­dent Obama is push­ing for what he calls a “rea­son­able propo­si­tion” of tax in­creases mainly on those fam­i­lies with in­comes of $250,000 or more. “We weren’t bal­anc­ing the bud­get off of mid­dle-class fam­i­lies and work­ing-class fam­i­lies,” he said. “And we weren’t let­ting hedge-fund man­agers or au­thors of best-sell­ing books off the hook.” Left un­said was that the top 10 per­cent of earn­ers are al­ready on the hook for around 70 per­cent of to­tal in­come taxes, and the bot­tom 50 per­cent pay next to noth­ing. If “fair­ness” was as im­por­tant to lib­er­als as they say it is, they would be seek­ing bal­ance by rais­ing taxes on the low end of the in­come scale.

Many of the fam­i­lies in Mr. Obama’s tax crosshairs wouldn’t con­sider them­selves wealthy.

The quar­ter-mil­lion-dol­lar di­vid­ing line be­tween the so-called rich and the rest of Amer­ica is a holdover from Pres­i­dent Clin­ton, who fa­mously de­fined mil­lion­aires as those earn­ing a mil­lion dol­lars over four years.

In­fla­tion in the 18 years since has put even more Amer­i­cans into this bracket; the equiv­a­lent earn­ing power in to­day’s dol­lars would be al­most $400,000. While those fam­i­lies who earn $250,000 are cer­tainly well off, they tend to clus­ter in the ar­eas of the coun­try that have the high­est costs of liv­ing. They are not likely to be hedge-fund man­agers; more apt stereo­types would be high-rank­ing school ad­min­is­tra­tors, union lead­ers and mar­ried fed­eral work­ers near the top of the bu­reau­cratic pay scale.

The “pri­vate jet own­ers” Mr. Obama uses to sell his vi­sion of higher taxes are the same peo­ple who, un­der other cir­cum­stances, would be cre­at­ing jobs the White House would take credit for. Gov­ern­ment econ­o­mists have been mys­ti­fied by the re­cent lack of job growth, but the rea­son is trans­par­ent: Busi­ness lead­ers don’t trust Mr. Obama. “This ad­min­is­tra­tion is the great­est wet blan­ket to busi­ness, and progress and job cre­ation in my life­time,” said Steve Wynn, CEO of Wynn Re­sorts, on July 18. “[A]ll of us in this mar­ket­place that are fright­ened to death about all the new reg­u­la­tions, our health care costs es­ca­late, reg­u­la­tions com­ing from left and right. . . . [T]hose of us who have busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties and the cap­i­tal to do it are go­ing to sit in fear of the pres­i­dent. . . . Ev­ery­body’s afraid of the gov­ern­ment and there’s no need soft-ped­dling it — it’s the truth. It is the truth.” Mr. Wynn re­it­er­ated, “The busi­ness com­mu­nity in this [coun­try] is fright­ened to death of the weird po­lit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy of the pres­i­dent of the United States. And un­til he’s gone, ev­ery­body’s go­ing to be sitting on their thumbs.”

More am­bi­tious class war­riors want to dis­pense with tax schemes al­to­gether and round up the golden geese for slaugh­ter. The money held by the rich is a “na­tional re­source” ripe for the pluck­ing, ac­cord­ing to left-wing ac­tivist film­maker Michael Moore. Of course, if gov­ern­ment con­fis­cated the wealth of Amer­ica’s bil­lion­aires overnight, it would bring in around $1.3 tril­lion. This one-time mass theft wouldn’t be enough to cover the cur­rent fis­cal year’s bud­get deficit and the mere act of con­fis­ca­tion would de­stroy the U.S. econ­omy. Un­less Mr. Obama can con­trol his ap­petite for spend­ing bor­rowed money, Amer­ica will hit the wall.

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