Democrats just won’t shut up about how the rich aren’t paying enough in taxes. It’s all about fairness, they tell us. There are people who need the money, and the rich don’t need it, so the government should be able to take it and give it to someone else. They talk about it like it’s their money and by not taxing it more they’re somehow giving money to millionaires. It’s maddening. What’s more maddening is that the wealthiest Americans pay the most in taxes, and when progressives whine that Bush cut taxes for the rich, they fail to mention that the richest American’s share of total taxes paid actually went up after the Bush tax cuts went into effect.
Via Nick Gillespie, the Tax Foundation published the following chart which shows the percent of total federal tax paid by each income group. Clear as day you can see that after Bush’s tax cuts were enacted, the share of federal taxes paid by the wealthy went up.
Not that Democrats let facts get in the way of their little class warfare game. Just this week President Obama went so far as to tell a bold faced lie – saying Republicans want to end the middle class tax cuts HE’s championed and they’ve opposed. He said that when the two year extension is up, he’ll fight to raise taxes on upper income earners. Not only did he lie about the Republicans’ stance on taxes for middle class Americans, he also lied by omission by not stating that high earners already pay more than any income group.
But enough about the facts, how about the moral arguments the Republicans should be using when fighting these class warfare battles. William McGurn was spot-on in this morning’s Wall Street Journal.
What might a more robustly moral argument look like? For one thing, it would address head-on the rhetoric of greed. One of the Seven Deadly Sins, greed is usually described as an insatiable desire for wealth. If that is true, when taxpayers who want to keep their hard-earned money are compared to politicians who want to take it from them to feed their uncontrolled spending, whose appetite better warrants the word insatiable?
In fact, the desire for higher taxes often seems to justify itself solely by the motive to level down. Mr. Obama suggested as much during a televised campaign debate in April 2008. ABC’s Charlie Gibson asked the candidate why he wanted to raise capital gains tax rates even though the experience of the past two presidents—Bill Clinton and George W. Bush—showed that “in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased; the government took in more money.”
Mr. Obama’s answer: “Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.”
Fairness?!?! What’s so fair about the above chart? What’s fair about taking more and more from those busting their humps working sixty to eighty hours a week to make a decent living? Their argument about taxes is no different than the argument that it’s somehow fair to give public employees represented by unions lavish benefits while private sector workers foot the bill.