The Corner

Rich, Raise-Your-Taxes Populists

Team Obama: The HHS nominee and tax-plagued Sebelius ($8,000 short) was the sequel to the mega-tax-plagued Tom Daschle ($140,000 short), who followed disclosures about Treasury Sec. Timothy Geithner ($48,000 short), who was joined by Nancy Kelleher (who knows?), and Labor Sec. Hilda Solis ($6,400 short).

The real story is not just that our tax code is so complicated that even our supposedly best and brightest cannot fathom it, or that these problems allegedly derived from mere technicalities, or even that the corrections and repayment usually follow nomination, the subtext being that without the chance for the federal post, the fed does not collect their revenue.

No, the lesson is that all these nominees belong to precisely the class that we’ve heard over the last two years “made out like bandits,” and should “spread the wealth,” and need to “level the playing field,” and “were the beneficiaries of the Bush tax cuts” and should be “patriotic” in paying “their fair share.”

So there is a real ethical crisis among the liberal elite who, we are learning for the nth time, suffer the additional wage of hypocrisy, by calling for higher taxes on the upper-middle-class (often punctuated by self-serving qualifiers that they themselves are willing to pay more in taxes), only to scheme to find ways to cut down their tax liability contrary to the law.

The tragedy is that moralists like Daschle, Geithner, Solis, etc. have far more access to tax lawyers and are far less likely to pay the consequences when caught than the putative “rich” that the liberal left, for the last year, has so cavalierly trashed.

Something larger and really weird is going on here. Liberal tax raisers are not paying taxes. The majority of big Wall Street money (cf. AIG, Fannie, Freddie, Goldman-Sachs, etc) is going to the Democratic Party. The J.P.Morgan-like tycoons such as Buffet, Gates, Soros, etc. are apparently strong supporters of these avatars of the new economics. Congessional liberal leaders are mulitmillionaires like Feinstein, Kennedy, Kerry, Kohl, Pelosi, Rockefellar, etc. All of this is superimposed on this pseudo-populist agenda, decrying the Wall Street culture and corporate America that enriched them, while calling for more and more taxes that some of them apparently so often find ways of avoiding.

A good novelist could not make this all up.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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