As fiscal cliff negotiations move forward in earnest, Democrats are campaigning hard for the “rich” (defined as individuals making $200,000 and couples making $250,000 per year and up) to pay their “fair share.”
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has been particularly emphatic that tax rates on these individuals should go up while rejecting Republican suggestions that a budget deal should include increases in revenue garnered by capping tax deductions and closing loopholes rather than by raising rates.
Republicans argue that the Democrats’ formula for ending the impasse will harm the economy because it will hurt small business. Barack Obama seems to have agreed with this position at one point having extended the Bush tax rates for the top 2% income earners in the past. Although the economy is no better than when he supported these extensions, in fact it is worse, his “tax increases on the rich” pitch constituted the featured attraction of his 2012 presidential campaign and a promise is a promise.
The whole “tax the rich” campaign has been interesting to watch because some of America’s richest people have been the idea’s biggest proponents. Warren Buffett is particularly outspoken in his belief that the rich should pay more. In fact, he almost rubs Americans faces in the fact that he’s gotten away for so long with paying so little in taxes relative to his wealth.
In his campaign, President Obama enjoyed using Buffett’s personal taxes as a perfect example of why the rich should pay more. The flaw in the entire argument which was never addressed in the campaign is the question of what constitutes “rich” in 2012 America. More to the point, is it really fair or accurate to equate someone making $250,000 per year with Warren Buffett?
Today, there are some very rich Americans. We actually have billionaires, something never even contemplated not long ago. Someone with a net worth of a billion dollars is quite a bit different than someone worth $30 million dollars. That person is much better off than the person with a net worth of $1 million. They are all doing far better than the lawyer or doctor making $200,000 per year (particularly in Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco). Yet, in the Democrats’ world, they are all the same—the evil rich.
If Nancy Pelosi is going to stick to her guns on this one, then as citizens, we should insist that she lead by example. Nancy Pelosi is a very rich woman by almost any measure, worth at last count about $26 million dollars.
What a wonderful example it would be if she’d write a check today to the U.S. Treasury for $10 million dollars. Even a paltry $5 million dollars would at least look like she’s more than just a limousine liberal eager to wrest money out of the hands of small businessmen like its Monopoly money, knowing all along that none of it will affect her lifestyle in the least. It would show that she’s committed to a good cause—reducing the incredible federal debt that she personally had a hand in creating.
Democrats are encouraging their constituents to call Members of Congress in support of tax rate increases on the “rich.” As Republicans, perhaps we should all call Mrs. Pelosi’s office and encourage her to write that check. Then maybe we’ll know she’s serious.