The Campaign Spot

Obama: ‘Let the market work… and then just tax the heck out of people at the end and just redistribute it.’

A couple of interesting points in a long piece on Obama’s economics in The New York Times magazine:

For these upper-income families, the Tax Policy Center’s comparisons with McCain are even starker. McCain, by continuing the basic thrust of Bush’s tax policies and adding a few new wrinkles, would cut taxes for the top 0.1 percent of earners — those making an average of $9.1 million — by another $190,000 a year, on top of the Bush reductions. Obama would raise taxes on this top 0.1 percent by an average of $800,000 a year.
It’s hard not to look at that figure and be a little stunned. It would represent a huge tax increase on the wealthy families. But it’s also worth putting the number in some context. The bulk of Obama’s tax increases on the wealthy — about $500,000 of that $800,000 — would simply take away Bush’s tax cuts. The remaining $300,000 wouldn’t nearly reverse their pretax income gains in recent years. Since the mid-1990s, their inflation-adjusted pretax income has roughly doubled.

I’m not going to jump up and scream that raising taxes on those making $9.1 million or more per year is ipso facto outrageous. But I’ll note that if I had the sense that the extra $800,000 was going to be well spent, I might even support the idea. But does anyone trust an Obama presidency and a Democratic-controlled Congress to spend those extra dollars wisely?
Does anyone else really doubt that we would end up with more of the federal government being relocated to West Virginia by Robert Byrd’s endless pork barrel projects, a health care plan that made HillaryCare look simple, grants to friends, mohair subsidies, Woodstock museums, carp barriers, “universal voluntary” national service programs for high schoolers, more foreign aid to countries misusing the aid we sent them last year, etc.? Why are we to think that starting in January 2009, the federal government will suddenly break its habits of waste, mismanagement, fraud, and abuse?
Then there was this quote:

“If you talk to Warren, he’ll tell you his preference is not to meddle in the economy at all — let the market work, however way it’s going to work, and then just tax the heck out of people at the end and just redistribute it,” Obama said. “That way you’re not impeding efficiency, and you’re achieving equity on the back end.” He continued by saying that he thought there was some merit in Buffett’s argument. But, he said: “I do think that what the argument may miss is the sense of control that we want individuals to have in determining their own career paths, making their own life choices and so forth. And I also think you want to instill that sense of self-reliance and that what you do will help determine outcomes.”

Isn’t it reassuring to have a presidential candidate saying he sees some merit in “taxing the heck” out of something? To quote Rush, that tingle going up Chris Matthews’ leg is a chill running down my spine.


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