"Pay up, you rich bastards!"

Our newest editor, Mr. Butler Adams, is still in recovery from serious cranial surgery, but has heroically brushed aside the fatigue and general torpor that must necessarily accompany recuperation to put pen to paper and contribute his thoughts to the current discussion on blasting the entitled with punitive taxes.  While we disagree with some of his assertions, we shall, in recognition of his condition, moderate our response.

Butler, you addled witling, call your surgeon and tell him that whatever he cut out, he should swiftly restore, as he has inadvertently excised tissue essential to your ability to reason.  From your post:

Fairness is a value so fundamental to most people it’s hard to argue against, and facing down fairness is part of the Republicans’ burden as they fight the idea of making the rich “pay their fair share.”

All of the nonsense about billionaires paying less than their secretaries is just that — nonsense.  Oh, yes, I know — 1% of the country controls 40% of the wealth, and so on.  Here are some other stats:

According to the Congressional Budget Office itself, the richest 1% of Americans pay an average of 31% of their annual earnings in federal income taxes.  That’s a fact.   The “average” earner pays less than 14%.

Moreover, the country’s wealthiest taxpayers — the top 10% — fork over almost 70% of all income taxes, reports the IRS.

What would you call a “fair share?”  99%?

Now Obama, with his usual flourish of rhetorical bombast, declares that the burden of righting America’s fiscal house will not be “on the backs of ordinary people.”  What an astonishing thing to say.  Does this mean that it will be done by “extraordinary people?”  Arnold Schwartenegger once famously said “Anyone who comes to America and doesn’t become a millionaire isn’t really trying.”  A bit of a stretch, we admit — but now we seem to have a guy who responds “Not if I can help it.”  The “rich” — anyone making more than $250,000 a year — are demonized.

But a couple making $250,000 a year with two kids in college and paying $25,000 a year in health insurance alone know that they aren’t “rich.”  So do their neighbors.

And now, Obama is suggesting something remarkable:  raising the capital gains tax.  Well, if investors needed a reason to run from stocks like a Pomeranian from a pit bull, this will do it.

Currently, the long-term capital gains tax (tax on profits on investments held for one year or longer) is 15%.  At the end of 2012, this rate will increase to 20% — a 33% increase — if the Congress does not extend the Bush tax cuts.  And frankly, that’s fine with us.  But there’s one problem.

Almost anyone with a brain will sell stocks prior to that deadline, and pay taxes at the lower rate.  This is not very good good news for the stock market.  But who cares?  That’s a problem for rich people, right?

Not really, given that most pension plans are heavily invested in the US stock market — and that any shortfalls in those plans are going to result either in higher taxes — to fund government plans — or reduced benefits — to preserve private plans.  A stock market crash isn’t good for anyone.

Finally, a point about raising taxes:  I don’t think most people in this country would object to higher taxes if they thought that would really solve anything.  But a government that flies Nancy Pelosi home in her own 747 and lends a few hundred million to fund-raising cronies of the President has a hard time gaining traction with people who work for their money.  After all, they’ve been paying the government a pretty hefty chunk of what they make for a long time — and it still wasn’t enough.  Now they are understandably skeptical of claims that somehow the government’s budget problems are all the fault of “the rich.”  That people just aren’t paying enough in taxes — that the difficulty is not in how much we spend, but in the size of our “revenues.”  (Give Obama some credit.  He has almost single-handedly taken a perfectly respectable word and turned it into a synonym for shit sandwich.  Oh well — one man’s taxes are another man’s revenues, in the Obama-world.)

The fact is, our governments — federal, state, municipal across the board– have overspent irresponsibly for years on the silly assumption that the good times would roll on forever, with a minor bump here and there along the road.  Then, the hard times came, as they inevitably do, and the government says “Okay, we were stupid.  But we need more money now, so you have to give it to us.”  Well, maybe not.  Schools aren’t closing because “the rich” aren’t paying their “fair share.”  They’re closing because the government’s revenue assumptions were built on fairy tales — like Gray Davis predicting that the Dow would be at 25,000 by 2008.  Politicians bought union votes wholesale with pension benefits of stupid dimensions, knowing that when the bill came, there would be hell to pay.  That’s not the fault of “the rich.”

Now, Obama, trying to find a way to reelection, does his own math and thinks “Hmmmm…rich people?  Not so many.  Un-rich people?  Lots of them.”  So he goes on TV, and says “Hey — it’s all the fault of the rich!  They’re not paying their fair share!”

When you can’t blame Bush for your bungling any longer, you need a new fall guy.  But there seems to be a portion of the country — a quite sizable one, actually — that isn’t buying this, and right now, they are putting Mr. Obama very close to membership in the one-term club.

Now, that sounds fair.