In other words, Steve Jobs didn’t make Apple happen. It was the work of a teachers’-union member — er, great teacher — and the government agencies that paved I-280 and El Camino Real that made Apple happen.
High earners don’t deserve the money they make, Obama apparently thinks. It’s the gift of government, and they shouldn’t begrudge handing more of it back to government.
And that’s true, as he told Charlie Gibson of ABC News in 2008, even if those higher tax rates produce less revenue for the government, as has been the case with rate increases on capital gains. The government should take away the money as a matter of “fairness.”
The cynical might dismiss Obama’s preoccupation with higher tax rates as an instance of a candidate dwelling on one of his few proposals that tests well in the polls. Certainly he doesn’t want to talk much about Obamacare or the stimulus package.
Cynics might note that he spurned super-committee Republicans’ willingness last year to reduce tax deductions so as to actually increase revenue from high earners, without discouraging investment or encouraging tax avoidance as higher tax rates do.
But maybe Obama’s Captain Ahab–like pursuit of higher tax rates just comes from a sense that no one earns success and that there’s no connection between effort and reward.