Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Who doesn’t want to be a millionaire?  Who wouldn’t love to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous?  Who wouldn’t love to live in a spacious mansion with servants, crystal chandeliers, and an indoor swimming pool?  Who wouldn’t love to drive around in a $400,000 Maserati, have a vacation home in the Caribbean, a villa in Aspen, and a townhouse in London or Paris?  What woman wouldn’t love to buy a $500 pair of shoes and a dress costing $2,000?

There is a superclass of people who can do these things and we gnash our teeth in envy at their lifestyles, in defiance of our scriptures that tell us envy is just as much of a sin as greed.  We then run into the nearby supermarket and spend our money on lottery tickets in the hopes that fortune will smile upon us and we, too, can be the envy of our neighbors.

The U.S. government levied progressive income taxes on its citizens as early as the War of 1812.  These were temporary taxes, usually to support a war.  In 1913, Congress passed the 16th Amendment, just before William Howard Taft left office, stating:   The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Progressives have spent decades convincing us that the wealthy are evil schemers who are getting rich off the backs of the working people.  Yet, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the 10 percent of households with the highest incomes pay more than half of all federal taxes.  They pay more than 70 percent of federal income taxes.  While there may be individual millionaires who pay taxes at lower rates, they’re not even the One-Percenters about whom we’ve been told.  In 2009, 1,470 households filed tax returns with incomes above $1 million, yet paid no federal income tax, according to the Internal Revenue Service.  That’s less than one percent of the nearly 237,000 returns with incomes above $1 million.

According to the Tax Policy Center, for the Fiscal Year 2011, households making more than $1 million paid an average 29.1 percent of their income in federal taxes, including income taxes, payroll taxes, and other taxes.  Households with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 paid an average of 15 percent in federal income taxes; households making between $40,000 and $50,000 paid an average of 12.5 percent and those making between $20,000 and $30,000 paid 5.7 percent.

You might think that’s fair; that the wealthy should pay more since they have more.  What’s not fair is to accuse them of not paying their fair share when they’re paying our share and more.  What’s more, they use fewer public services.  They pay more for our police officers, firefighters, teachers, and sanitation but they’re less likely to commit violent crime, are generally more careful with their property, and send their children to private schools, while still paying more than their fair share for educating our children.  And they create jobs.  Your jobs.

Finally, ask yourself what you’ve done to make yourself wealthier.  How well did you do in school?  Do you clip coupons?  Do you put away money for your retirement?  Do you pay your credit card bill on time?  Do you have a fixed rate mortgage?  Do you save and invest your money, or do you gamble it away in Atlantic City, trying to get rich quick?

Harry “Red Herring” Reid is hot on the trail of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to pressure him to reveal his income tax records for the last ten years.  He’s accusing Romney of being a tax-evading criminal, one of those less-than-one-percenters who paid no income tax.  Harry must be thinking of former Soviet Union-style justice, where the accusation was enough to send you to the gulag; it’s up to Harry to prove that Romney is a criminal.  Wayne Allyn Root has the right idea – let Romney challenge Obama – Romney’s taxes for Obama’s college records, which will indicate whether or not Obama was admitted to school as a foreign exchange student.

Mona Charen’s column in today’s National Review Online notes:

“…there is no reason to believe that voters will hold Romney’s wealth against him. Americans don’t envy the rich; they aspire to become rich themselves. Class envy has limited appeal. Among recent prominent American politicians, it’s challenging to find a single one who is not a millionaire. Harry Reid has a net worth estimated at between $2.6 million and $5 million. Nancy Pelosi recently lost $8 million, bringing her net worth down to $26.4 million. John Boehner is said to have $1.7 million.

 Hillary Clinton, one of the most popular political figures in the country, is worth about $85 million. No one objected to her wealth when she ran in 2008, and no one suggests it would be a handicap in the future.

Ross Perot made history in 1992 and 1996, getting more votes than any third-party candidate in history. Voters didn’t resent his status as a billionaire; they admired it.

Al Gore could have picked up the tab when dining with the Clintons. His net worth clocks in at about $100 million. But he could have asked John Kerry to do likewise, as Kerry’s fortune is about $240 million.”

Obama’s camp is engaging in a witch hunt in which he may (figuratively and politically-speaking) wind up being burned at the stake on Nov. 6th.

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