Taxes & Spending

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, President Obama

When President Obama revealed his earnings and tax liability this week, and at the same time touted his “Tax the wealthy” mantra at a town hall forum, one wondered why he doesn’t just put his money where his mouth is. 

The President reported annual income of $1.7 million and a tax bill of $450,000, yet he didn’t offer to shoulder more of the burden.  “Nobody volunteers and says, ‘Boy, I’m just wild to pay more taxes,’ ” he conveyed.  “But it’s a matter of values and what we prioritize.  And I certainly don’t think my taxes should be even lower.” 

How about valuing the freedom to make one’s own living?  To spend what one earns on a family’s priorities?  To allow those who trust private-sector charities over government programs to choose those institutions to solve problems instead?

Already, the top 5% of earners pay 59% of the income taxes in this country.

Contrary to the common perception that the wealthy in this country are only getting wealthier, and therefore can afford to foot more of this country’s tax burden, Kevin Williamson reports on National Review Online that this is simply not true.  He says that from 1996 to 2005, “The median real income of super-rich households went down, not up.  The rich got poorer.  Among actual households, income grew proportionally more for those who started off in the low-income groups than those who began in high-income groups.”

In Massachusetts, taxpayers have the option of selecting to pay a higher tax rate, 5.85%, rather than 5.3%, on certain types of income.  You can imagine how many liberals took advantage of that “option” in Massachusetts.  (Lest you are wondering about Sen. John Kerry, he did not.)

If shouldering more of the country’s revenue burden should be the responsibility of the wealthy, as the President argues, a check payable to the United States Treasury—think of it as a charitable contribution—would certainly be an example to all of his colleagues.

Then again, maybe even that wouldn’t work.  In 2010, Obama’s counterpart, Vice President Biden, earned more than $375,000, a sum putting him in the highest tax bracket.  Yet he and his wife contributed a paltry $5,350 to charity, a mere 1% of his income.  It was not a rare year for the Bidens.  In fact, it was representative of their giving history over the years.  In 2009, they gave a similar 1% of their income.  In 2008, they gave just seven-tenths of a percent ($1,885 of their $269,256 gross income).

While those on the Left purport to be charitable, and they equate advocating increased taxes with being patriotic, their reluctance to shoulder more of the burden themselves illustrates how insincere their claims really are.

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