Obama’s childlike belief in the money tree
posted at 11:03 am on September 23, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
There is something at once fascinating and frightening in the Obama campaign meme that the rich should be forced to “pay a little bit more.” It is featured in a current ad that contrasts this ostensibly harmless poll-tested demand with Mitt Romney’s heartless desire to give his rich buddies (and himself) a bigger tax break.
The attitude on the part of the president is nothing new. In April, long before the election season was in full swing but long after it was clear that shovel-ready didn’t necessarily mean shovel-ready, he laid out his revised deficit and debt reduction plan. He told an audience at George Washington University that “the rich can afford to give back a little bit more.” Notice that the wording is give back not give, as though tax revenues are monies that belong to the government in the first place.
Further along in the speech he elaborated on what he meant:
It’s a basic reflection of our belief that those who benefited most from our way of life can afford to give back a little bit more. Moreover, this belief hasn’t hindered the success of those at the top of the income scale. They continue to do better and better with each passing year.
Again, it is interesting that he believes that if the numbers as a whole show a widening disparity between the top earners and those at the bottom, then everyone in the highest tax brackets should receive a visit from the tax man, regardless of whether their personal wealth has increased. One could argue on his behalf that this policy of taxing rich equally, independently of outcome, shows that he really does believe in equality.
But the most intriguing aspect of his bleed-the-rich philosophy is the notion of a little more. He never quantifies this amount, which is of a piece with the equally undefined fair share. Right now, the top 10% of earners pay 71% of all taxes. How much fairer a share should they be forced to contribute?
Obama, who by most definitions is himself rich, should have a firmer grasp on the reality that wealth is finite. Yet, like a child undaunted by his parents’ argument that there are limits on what they can afford to buy, he clamors for another new toy.
It is almost as though he believes money grows on trees. He has intimated as much in his words. Here he is in July of 2011:
And I do not want, and I will not accept, a deal in which I am asked to do nothing, in fact, I’m able to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional income that I don’t need, while a parent out there who is struggling to figure out how to send their [sic] kid to college suddenly finds that they’ve got a couple thousand dollars less in grants or student loans. [Emphasis added]
Obama may well be in a unique position of having “additional income that he doesn’t need” but he’s not in a position to make that decision for others, regardless of how unfair he thinks the world is.
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