The Corner

Confiscatory Tax Rate Dreams from my Father

This is a must read piece from Investors Business Daily. Barack Obama seems to have spent a lifetime pining for the father who abandoned him at age 2. His first autobiography (and what 47 year old doesn’t need two?) was dedicated to the man. Now he has issued the essential blueprint for the Obama Tax Code, and we find that it too is part of dad’s legacy. Naturally, candidate Obama Jr. wishes to raise taxes on the productive and the married, (especially two-income professional families — which will chase educated women from the work force, as the NY Sun discussed brilliantly, here)  And, naturally, he wishes to redistribute money to those who work less, or don’t work at all — in the form of tax “credits” – which will put money in your pocket whether you have paid any taxes or not.  That is a trick devised long ago, (Nixon era, sigh), and enshrined in the (GOP-supported) Earned Income Tax Credit — which has always been a welfare program for the working poor. (Peter Ferrara explains clearly how Obama taxes = welfare, here.)

Under Obama, everyone who isn’t “rich” — a number he won’t specify, (but let’s say — $250,000 per year) deserves support. And everyone who isn’t “poor” gets to pay for it. The upper middle class, whose income ususually come in the form of salaries, gets to support the rest of the country. As for the truly rich — well, a truly rich man I met recently told me about the process for obtaining a second passport and dual citizenship in a tax haven — which he had been investigating. Applications are up. In our very mobile times, the truly rich, and the financial industries which make them that way, generally can find a way around onerous taxes. 

But back to Bambi’s dad.  Barack Obama Sr., recall, was in the U.S. to study economics to help with the development of his dirt poor, resource rich country, Kenya. (A country the U.S. hoped to save from the clutches of the Soviets and the devastation of communism.) God only knows what he learned at Harvard, but, as the IBD piece mentions, he went home to Kenya where, among his other activities, he wrote an article for the East Africa Journal offering a vivid critique of such capitalist entrerprise as existed in Kenya at the time.

The article, called “Problems Facing Our Socialism,” makes the economic case that high taxes are morally and practically good, if the government then uses them to provide for the people. How high should the tax rates be?  ”Theoretically,” he wrote, “there is nothing that can stop the government from taxing 100% of income so long as the people get benefits from the government commensurate with their income which is taxed.”  Yes, you read it: a 100% tax rate is fine.  Obama Sr. continued, ” It is a fallacy to say there is a limit (to tax rates), and it is a fallacy to rely mainly on individual free enterprise to get the savings.” Free enterprise — bad. (He was discussing future government economic development.)

In the paper, Obama Sr. also advocated nationalizing all industry — and most commerce — for racial/nationalist reasons. He wished to confiscate the large scale industries which had been owned and developed by Europeans. And, even more radically, he wished for the government to take away the small businesses that constituted much of the nation’s local economy, because, as in much of East Africa, they were owned by Asians — Indians in particular. He felt it was wrong for Europeans and Asians to benefit from their investments and hard work, and that they would keep the Kenyans oppressed. Employed, but oppressed. 

Obama Jr., the Democratic nominee for President of the U.S., seems also to have a problem with investment and productivity. For him, it comes under the rubric of fairness — which is Obama’s central moral issue. (Roger Kimball elaborates on this, here.) Obama seems to feel that if you have figured out how to make your money productive, you owe some of it to those who haven’t.  And that suggests that, however the numbers get jiggered by his economic policy advisors, he will always regard the successful, the wealthy and the productive as a suspect class.  Even when the data makes clear that the rich in this country already pay 40% of the taxes, and raising rates will bring down revenues — a lesson that even Bill Clinton was too smart to ignore in the increasingly mist-shrouded 1990s.  Really, just what a country on the brink of a recession should want from a new administration, no?

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