Fred Thompson tackles the ‘soak-the-rich’ mentality

Former New York District Attorney — sorry, U.S. Sen. — Fred Thompson offers National Review Online readers some thoughts about the concept of solving the nation’s budget and debt problems by “taxing the rich.”

Let’s get off the defensive with regard to this “fairness” argument and meet it head on. We’ve got the better argument from both an economic and a fairness standpoint.

First, I’d start with the question, “Just how much of any person’s money should the government take?” Polls indicate that the public puts that number lower than most politicians think.

Then I’d make these points:

Fewer people are already carrying more of the tax load in this country. More than half pay no income tax at all. Upper-income Americans are paying a growing share of our tax burden. Five percent of taxpayers pay well over 50 percent of the entire tax burden — a higher percentage than anywhere else in the Western world. (Yes, that would include France and Germany.) Moreover, the top 10 percent — makers of an average of $114,000 — pay almost 70 percent of all income taxes.

The soaking-the-rich argument is just a way for the voracious taxing machine known as the federal government to get its foot in the door so that it can get its hands on the middle class, where the real money is. If the government took all of the income of those making over $200,000, it would hardly solve our fiscal problem. It would barely cover Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and it wouldn’t cover those programs after five years. Obama’s soak-the-rich proposals would raise about $750 billion. If interest rates normalize, by the end of ten years that wouldn’t cover the additional interest costs to the government for a single year.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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