Politics & Policy

Obama Proudly Declares Class War

But the rich already are getting soaked.

It’s official: America is at class war, and Pres. Barack Obama proudly leads the charge against this country’s wealthy.

“If asking a millionaire to pay the same tax rate as a plumber makes me a class warrior — a warrior for the working class — I will accept that,” Obama shouted Tuesday at Denver’s Abraham Lincoln High School. “I will wear that charge as a badge of honor.”

“Middle-class families shouldn’t pay higher tax rates than millionaires and billionaires,” Obama said. “A teacher or a nurse or a construction worker making $50,000 a year shouldn’t pay higher tax rates than somebody making $50 million.”

These may be the harshest such comments that Obama has made, but they certainly are not the first.

• “The debt ceiling should not be something that is used as a gun against the heads of the American people to extract tax breaks for corporate-jet owners,” Obama said on July 6.

• “We can’t just tell the wealthiest among us, ‘You don’t have to do a thing. You just sit there and relax, and everybody else, we’re gonna solve this [deficit] problem,’” Obama remarked on April 14.

• Most revealingly, Obama confessed on April 28, 2010: “I do think at a certain point, you’ve made enough money.”

Obama’s assault on the affluent rests upon a sky-high stack of lies. Obama is too well-staffed and too well-informed not to know otherwise. So, maddeningly, he straight-out lies to the American people.

For days before Obama opened his mouth in Denver, multiple news accounts and opinion pieces annihilated the casus belli of his War on the Wealthy. Nonetheless, Obama keeps spouting falsehoods, perhaps hoping that his smooth voice will hypnotize Americans into believing his words.

“Fact check: The wealthy already pay more taxes,” read the headline above a September 20 Associated Press dispatch. “President Obama says he wants to make sure millionaires are taxed at higher rates than their secretaries,” Stephen Ohlemacher wrote. “The data say they already are.”

Nationwide, Ohlemacher and others dismantled Obama’s soak-the-rich thesis. The rich are soaked today!

In 2008, its latest data indicate, the Internal Revenue Service harvested $1.0315 trillion in income tax — of which the bottom 50 percent of earners collectively paid just $27.9 billion. The top 1 percent paid $392.15 billion; the top 5 percent paid $605.7 billion; and the top 10 percent paid $721.4 billion. Thus, the top 1 percent of taxpayers furnished 14 times the income taxes that the bottom 50 percent supplied.

In 2009, the IRS reports, those who earned between $20,000 and $30,000 paid an average of 2.5 percent of adjusted gross income in federal income taxes. Those who earned between $50,000 and $60,000 paid 6.3 percent; between $100,000 and $125,000, 9.9 percent; between $200,000 and $300,000, 17.5 percent. Those who made at least $1 million saw income taxes devour 24.4 percent of AGI.

Income, schmincome, leftists chirp. What about the payroll taxes that lower-income Americans pay? Counting other taxes still shows that higher earners pay more — Obama’s dark fantasies notwithstanding.

The Tax Policy Center — a joint venture of two liberal bastions, the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution — reported on August 24 that Americans who earn between $20,000 and $30,000 will pay an average of 5.7 percent of their 2011 earnings in federal income, payroll, corporate, and death taxes. Those clearing between $40,000 and $50,000 will pay 12.5 percent, while those from $50,000 to $75,000 will average 15 percent. For earners of $1 million or more, those federal taxes will extract 29.1 percent.

Dry? Yes. But these figures demonstrate that Americans who earn more money pay more federal tax. Those who earn less pay less. If Obama finds this unfair, he should define fairness.

True, the IRS notes, 1,470 households earned at least $1 million but paid no federal income tax in 2009. Still, this is just 0.62 percent of the 236,883 returns that millionaires filed. This reinforces the bipartisan idea of closing loopholes and lowering tax rates — but not Obama’s crusade against “millionaires and billionaires” and his American Jobs Act’s tax hikes on people earning as little as $200,000.

All of this has started to irritate even some Democrats.

“You don’t get people to like you by attacking them or demeaning their success,” billionaire Democrat Robert Johnson said October 2 on Fox News Sunday. “You know, I grew up in a family of ten kids, first one to go to college, and I’ve earned my success. I’ve earned my right to fly private if I choose to do so. . . . I sort of take the old Ethel Merman approach to life. I’ve tried poor, and I tried rich, and I like rich better. It doesn’t mean that I am a bad guy.”

The founder of Black Entertainment Television added: “I didn’t go into business to create a public-policy success for either party, Republican or Democrat. I went into business to create jobs and opportunity, create opportunity, create value for myself and my investors. And that’s what the president should be praising, not demagoguing us simply because Warren Buffet says he pays more [taxes] than his secretary. He should pay the secretary more, and she will pay more.”

“With my investments and board seats and companies that I own, I am at a leadership position in concerns that employ more than 200,000 people,” Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards basketball team, wrote on September 25. “We do our best to be good corporate citizens. I know in the companies that I own personally, or am the largest shareholder, we support more than 500 charities.”

“I voted for our President,” continued Leonsis, who also owns the Washington Capitals hockey team. “I have maxed out on personal donations to his re-election campaign. I forgot his campaign wants to raise $1 billion. THAT is a lot of money–money–money–money! Money still talks. It blows my mind when I am asked for money as a donation at the same time I am getting blasted as being a bad guy!”

“Someone needs to talk our President down off of this rhetoric about good vs. evil; about two classes and math,” Leonsis concluded. “Many of us want to be a part of the solution. We aren’t the problem.”

When Obama accepted the 2008 Democratic nomination in Denver, he espoused national unity. The U.S.A. would “come together as one American family,” he declared. If Barack Obama secured the presidency, he suggested, the nearby Continental Divide would become this republic’s only rift.

How disappointing that the eloquent man who millions hoped would heal this land now actively pits Americans against each other — not by race or creed, but by income. As London’s arson-scorched victims of mob rule learned last August, there is nothing cute about class war.

— New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Manhattan financier Brett A. Shisler contributed to this piece.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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