Did Warren Buffet, the Tax-Me billionaire entrepreneur, and President Obama talk on the phone before Buffett publicly begged to pay more taxes? Or was it serendipity that the president hit upon the idea of doing just that shortly after Mr. Buffett's plaintive cry that he be allowed to send more money to Washington to be spent by economic wizard Barack Obama (can you imagine Berkshire Hathaway as a failed green energy company–just asking?)?
A New York Times story yesterday revealed that the billionaire's pleas did not fall on deaf ears: the president is eager to institute what is coming to be called "the Buffet tax." John Steele Gordon of Commentary takes it apart:
"Obama Tax Plan Would Ask More of Millionaires," reads the headline of the lead story in today's New York Times. Nice touch that "ask" part, as if paying taxes were voluntary….
According to today's news story, Obama wants to require that everyone with an income of over $1 million pay the same effective tax rate (the percentage of taxable income paid in taxes) as "middle-income taxpayers." He calls it a matter of "fairness."
Well, let's take the fairness lipstick off this pig. It has nothing to do with fairness, it has everything to do with class warfare, for this would be nothing more nor less than a whacking great tax increase on capital gains and dividends on those who earn more than $1 million a year. In other words, they would be penalized for their success at creating wealth.
People with seven- and eight-figure incomes from wages already pay 35 percent on most of that income, the highest marginal rate. It is dividends and capital gains (taxed at 15 percent) that bring down their effective tax rate. But dividends are paid out of corporate profits that have already been taxed at 35 percent (ignoring various tax fiddles that bring down corporate income tax rates to an average of 25.4 percent). So dividend income is actually taxed at 50 percent already. A large portion of capital gains, likewise, derives from retained corporate income that has already been taxed.
Do you want to know how clueless Barack Obama is about economic policy? Look around you: record unemployment, an economy that refuses to budge off zero, and morale that makes Jimmy Carter's malaise period look like the office Christmas party.
John Steele Gordon explains why this is unfair and unfeasible. It's an excellent piece.
But I have another observation: Why should any segment of the population be "asked" to cover the cost of throwing money down a rat hole? Why should any group be "asked" to cover the cost of billion dollar "loans" to a pathetic solar panel company that has as its only saleable point the president's imprimatur?
Nobody, not even billionaires, should be made to pay more for such follies. I take that back: Let's send the bill to Mr. Buffett.