April 14, 2012

in which I respond to Steven Taylor at OTB

Asks Taylor, referring to revelations that Obama paid a lower tax rate than his secretary:

Keith Koffler asks:  Did Obama Pay a Lower Rate Than His Secretary?

He (as do his commenters and Protein Wisdom’s Jeff G.) treats this as some sort of Gotcha! Moment (or an example of hypocrisy or irony).  However, wouldn’t such a revelation actually underscore Obama’s argument regarding the so-called “Buffet Rule” i.e., that the tax code is so screwed up that there are incidences of persons making substantially more than their underlings and yet the underling pays a higher tax rate?

How is this a gotcha?

First, let me say that of course Taylor isn’t alone in his curiosity.  In fact, the Obama Administration is using this story as evidence that the President (and wealthy people like him) pay too little in taxes — because his secretary pays a higher rate:

“The president’s secretary pays a slightly higher rate … than the president on her substantially lower income, which is exactly why we need to reform our tax code and ask the wealthiest to pay their fair share,” White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage told Fox News.

So are they correct?  Is this, in fact, the precise opposite of a gotcha moment — and not a concentrated bit of irony like I portrayed it?

Well, it depends.  Because it is Obama whose message for “fairness” involves increasing tax burdens on “the rich,” the burden is on him to make sure that he walks the walk — that is, resists taking every deduction that he qualifies for in order to “take” money away from the government; after all, if he wants us to give more, he could start by trying to at least lead by example. This again smacks of “do as I say, not as a I do” — a favorite refrain among jet-setting liberals. And of course, the problem here from a conservative point of view is not necessarily that he paid too little, but rather that his secretary is paying too much.

Too, there’s the difference in what’s being taxed, exactly, from salary to capital gains, making the superficial comparison largely silly on its face — and exposing Obama’s argument for the ruse it is.

So yes, by all means, let’s reform the tax code in pursuit of “fairness.”  Let’s make sure that the wealthiest “pay their fair share,” as Ms Brundage insists.  But first, let’s agree on what constitutes “fairness.” When the top 10% are already paying 70% of the tax burden, we most certainly do have a fairness problem.

To Obama, what’s “fair” is not just that the more you make the more you pay; “fair” is using the tax code to punish you for making more by increasing the rates under which you are taxed.  Whereas what would could as an actual instance of institutionalized fairness would be creating a stable rate for all those being taxed on income.

And we can accomplish this by enacting a simple flat tax — a single, “fair” rate paid by all citizens (to make sure they have “skin in the game”), one that, by virtue of how math actually works would require that those who make more money pay more in taxes than those who make less.

The problem is not that the wealthy don’t pay enough; the problem, such as it is, is that the tax code is so complicated that only those with resources will be able to best take advantage of it.

What Obama’s tax returns suggest is just this.

The irony of Obama’s returns is that they do argue for fairness in the tax code.  Only, not in the way Obama defines “fair.”  Obama is arguing for an increase in revenue for the government over and against the private sector.  This at a time when his spending is already at a world-historic high — and with it, the national debt at a world-historic high.

It’s a shell game.  And we see through it.  Whereas Obama’s class-warrior schtick just gets increasingly more surreal with every last bit of optics, from all the deductions he claims on his taxes to all the vacations he takes to all the golf he plays to all the sporting events he wanders into.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 10:35am
40 comments | Trackback

Comments (40)

  1. Another aspect of “fairness” in government and law is simple intelligibility. Laws which are purposely written to propound a complexity no man can understand are laws that stand as unjust, for who can be expected to follow a law no one can reasonably understand? The US tax code is just such a law, or concatenation of laws — and at this point, can for all practical purposes be seen as having become intentionally complex in order to prevent understanding, thereby granting an unfair advantage to those who, by dint of their political standing, are permitted to ignore it.

  2. AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!!!!

  3. Just for you, Kevin.

    I do it just for you.

  4. Heh, these folks do love their hypocrisy.

  5. I’m always amazed as to how something like the fair tax can’t seem to get any traction, or even serious debate/discussion.
    Especially when one of it’s features is the abolition of the IRS.

  6. The Demonrats need the IRS because they want to be able to punish their enemies.

  7. And quite a formidable weapon it can be in the wrong hands.

  8. I know JHo is a big fair tax proponent. I like the flat tax only because it doesn’t require a Constitutional amendment. Start there then move to a fair tax, if that’s what works best.

  9. I agree that such a change would have to be done in steps as opposed to one big leap. For lack of a better term, I just haven’t seen a consensus on what , and in what direction, those steps should be.

  10. Timothy Geithner phones to ask what all the fuss is about.

    Too, there’s the difference in what’s being taxed, exactly, from salary to capital gains, making the superficial comparison largely silly on its face — and exposing Obama’s argument for the ruse it is.

    This is what makes this entire tax discussion so dull and uninteresting. Anyone and I mean anyone who has ever filled out anything longer than the simplified 1040-EZ knows the assertion that “the rich pay a lower rate” is utter garbage from the word “the.” Everyone knows the higher your ordinary income the higher rates you pay on every succeeding dollar, as you scale the brackets. So, what about other forms of taxable income? What about non-taxable income? How can this be squared with the fact noted above that the top 10% are already paying 70% of…

    Oops, I’ve broken the rule. No political discussion longer than a one sentence sound bite. A rule our Republican allies often say we must follow, there is no pragmatic, realistic way to otherwise sell conservative Republican ideas.

    Seriously, even the Republicans can go fuck themselves if they won’t smack this down every time it comes up. We don’t have a tax problem, we have a spending problem. Luckily, if a Republican wins, we can look forward to more efficient spending. Like the glory that is DHS and No Child Left Behind.

  11. Tennessee has no State income tax. We do have an ‘unfair’ (says the Libs) max 9.75% State plus Local sales tax, which works equally well to derive monies from all who spend monies. Fine with me, given everyone must pay a ‘fair share’.

  12. Why is there political blogging at a site for Off Track Betting?

  13. Again, President Obama, no one is keeping you from writing a check if you don’t think you pay enough.

  14. Again, President Obama, no one is keeping you from writing a check if you don’t think you pay enough.

    Actually volunteering to pay would be a gimmick. On the other hand, stealing more money from some people at the point of a tax collector’s gun would… generate enough revenue to feed the federal monster for less than 12 hours.

    Estimated revenue for Buffett Monster Rule over ten years: 47 billion divided by ten years equals 4.7 billion
    Estimated budget FY 2012: 3.73 trillion = 3730 billion

    3730/365=10.22 billion per day flushed through Your Federal Gubmint

    If anyone thinks this nonsense is about fiscal responsibility, wrap your lips around that flask of Wild Turkey and don’t let go. This is about what B. Hussein Obama was always about:

    MR. GIBSON: And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased. The government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down. So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?

    SENATOR OBAMA: Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.

  15. Obama decided giving $48K in tax free gifts to his kids was a priority …

    Really, I have no beef with people distributing their property to their kids. All power to the idea!

    At the same time though, while the Obama girls are secure in their future at their parents’ effort, their dad insists that all the other children of America be enslaved to his debt and not have the same opportunities to provide for their own.

  16. A flat tax would work if everyone drew a straight paycheck. For folks with multiple incomes, self employed, consultants and so on, people with legitimate expenses, you are still going to need to have deductions and not a lot will get solved.

  17. No one ever need worry about the Obamas’ offspring. By the time they kick the bucket their estate will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, all neatly sheltered in trusts.

    I wonder if their kids will market a fragrance as a vanity business. Or perhaps Barry will himself after leaving office.

    “New from the House of Obama–

    Fairness: Level The Playing Field.

    Cologne and eau de toilette exclusively from Michelle and Barack.”

  18. B Moe

    Which is a great argument to abolish income tax in the first place.

    Like Obama’s disdain for revenue in favor of “fairness”, the income tax is really a control tool rather than the price we pay for gov. services.

  19. No representation without taxation.

    Alternatively representation proportional to your share of the tax burden.

  20. what does fairness smell like?

    I’m guessing a combo redolent of saddle soap and musk, fitting for a new People’s Republic of lawn jockeys & serfs.

  21. When it comes to fragrance and Obama, Obama is arrogant enough to think his shit doesn’t stink and Obama’s sycophants would probably agree.

  22. Fairness: Hints of ambergris and sandalwood, but mostly menthol Kools and desperation.

  23. what does fairness smell like?

    I’m guessing a combo redolent of saddle soap and musk, fitting for a new People’s Republic of lawn jockeys & serfs.

    I see Jeff’s influence there.

  24. He (as do his commenters and Protein Wisdom’s Jeff G.) treats this as some sort of Gotcha! Moment

    Ha! the first comment on the thread in question. Do I know these people or what?

    Obama will just assume a bland face and say it only bolsters his argument

    Now, for a couple of OT’s…

    Language for manipulation:

    NEW WARNING LANGUAGE: The weather service is now testing words such as “mass devastation,” ”unsurvivable” and “catastrophic” aimed at getting more people to take heed.

    Why they are known as the “elite“. Whatta ya gotta do to get a elephant killing permit?

    Spain’s King Juan Carlos has successfully undergone hip replacement surgery after tripping on stairs and fracturing bones around the joint while on an elephant hunting trip in Botswana, officials said Saturday. It was the monarch’s fourth surgery in almost two years.

    Botswana government spokesman Jeff Ramsay told The Associated Press that the 74-year-old was on a private visit up north in the Okavango area when he had the accident. “He was hunting for elephant. He has a permit,” the spokesman said.

    .

  25. I’m always amazed as to how something like the fair tax can’t seem to get any traction, or even serious debate/discussion.

    I’m always surprised the whole Buffet tax thing doesn’t involve lowering the secretaries tax rate, it’s about raising the employers.

    Surprised like when a thief tells the judge he’s innocent kinda surprised that is…

  26. Jesus, I’m disappointed in you people… I was really expecting to see

    BECAUSE OF THE HYPOCRISY!!!!

    Obama wants to confiscate my money to hand out to the po’ little chilluns (who are union members and have degrees ending with the word “studies”), but fights tooth and nail to hold onto his own.

  27. Don’t forget also that anyone else not in a government job would be taxed on “imputed income” if they received housing and other perks in addition to actual salary/payments. So the Obama’s actually avoided paying a much higher tax because of the exemptions that complicate the tax code and make it much less “fair.”

  28. OT This video is kryptonite to a race baiter:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LONUecnsMb8

  29. He (as do his commenters and Protein Wisdom’s Jeff G.) treats this as some sort of Gotcha!

    My favoritest gotchas are the ones where you rate comments.

  30. I’m always amazed as to how something like the fair tax can’t seem to get any traction, or even serious debate/discussion.
    Especially when one of it’s features is the abolition of the IRS.

    Both of which are fair in and by principle. Which is why they’re opposed to the death.

    Imagine: a nation with a functioning sense of liberty and tolerance and where envy and theft are no longer government industries.

  31. Whatta ya gotta do to get a elephant killing permit?

    In Botswana, you pay the appropriate fee. If you’ve got the money, (and we’re not talking chump change, either) and a professional hunter has an unfilled tag on his hunting concession, you can shoot an elephant.

    But you can’t bring it back to the United States. Because hunting elephants is bad, m’kay?

    Which, of course, is why Botswana’s elephant herds are in better shape than Kenya’s, where hunting is banned.

  32. Could TX Hunting Actually Help Save These Endangered Species?

    Texas Ranches Hold Endangered Animal Hunts With Money Going to Boost Populations But Animal Activists Are Against

    The scimitar horned oryx is extinct in the wild.

    According to a recent 60 Minutes report, Texas has more exotic wildlife than any place on Earth. More than 125 exotic species can be found, many of which are endangered in their native habitats. But on these animal resorts, populations seem to be thriving.

    Why? They’re being hunted. While this may seem counter intuitive, hunting these animals costs a pretty penny, and much of the proceeds go to ensuring a strong population of these endangered animals for the future. Lara Logan with “60 Minutes” reports that it would cost $4,500 to kill a scimitar horned oryx — an animal considered extinct in its native habitat — $10,000 for a dama gazelle and $50,000 for a cape buffalo. In addition to bringing in revenue, Logan reports that the business employs about 14,000 people in Texas.

    But, as you might expect, animal rights activists aren’t happy about this method of maintaining the population. In fact, Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals, implies on the show that }}she would rather see the animals go extinct than live on such resorts.{{

    link

  33. Animal rights people are, for the most part, unhinged loonies. Every one of those critters would eventually be killed an eaten in the wild by a predator of some kind, and they often aren’t dead before the eating begins. On the other hand, you can bet that the hunts on the Texas preserves are very carefully managed and the target is selected by the guide, the kill is swift, and is likely an older animal anyway.

    The animals are being maintained in what is likely pretty darn good circumstances. The fact that it can be done at a profit is awesome, and the American way.

  34. “She would rather see the animals go extinct than live on such resorts.”
    It boggles the mind.
    I would rather see imbeciles such as Ms. Feral become extinct rather than having them drive, vote, or breed.

  35. she would rather see the animals go extinct than live on such resorts.

    proggslam: allan knows best.

  36. Friends of Animals, eh? Doesn’t she know that given half a chance most carnivorious animals would eat her right up?

  37. i like the “flat tax” because it should give w2 earners the same write downs as investment peeps. w2 earners are really 1099ers without the deductions.

  38. “It should give”…

  39. Stop me, before I pay less than I think I ought to on my taxes…again.

  40. Off Track Betting?

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