What do I think about taxing the rich? Well, I’m glad you asked, because I am strongly in favor of raising taxes on people who make more than I do. It’s human nature.
Except that human nature sometimes gets turned upside down, as when Warren Buffett, who is worth some $39 billion, declares that he and his fellow billionaires should pay more, and when middle-class teapots and other conservatives go into fits of anger at the idea of raising taxes on their economic superiors.
That’s when it gets interesting.
Buffett: “We mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. … What I paid [in federal income taxes last year] was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.”
That’s not something you hear every day, a billionaire complaining that he pays too little.
How did it go over with the conservative admirers of the super-rich? Well, you can just imagine.
House Speaker John Boehner labeled it “class warfare,” as did every commentator on Fox Propaganda, referring both to Buffett’s lament and President Obama’s proposed “Buffett Rule” that followed.
Rush Limbaugh sneered that Buffett should give his secretary a raise, “instead of us sitting here having to hear how she pays a higher tax rate than you do.”
“This is pure Campaign Speech 101,” he said, “class envy, set Americans against each other, create resentment and even hatred between the various economic classes,” even though much of what Limbaugh and his fellow agitators at Fox do is belittle and ridicule the “mooching class,” as opposed to the “productive class.”
The director of Fox business news, Ray Hennessy, went the others one better, scoffing, “Tax the rich, make them pay their fair share, and make sure the secretaries of the world … never find themselves paying more in taxes than Warren Buffett … Trouble is, it’s all a lie. Perhaps that’s too strong a word, but, at its most charitable, it is an untruth … To be fair, supporters of the Buffett Tax have never said she [the secretary] pays more. Rather, they say she pays a higher rate, which is different. But many folks no doubt have been confused into thinking that she pays more, and she doesn’t.”
Did you get that? Buffett said he paid a “lower percentage” than his employees, and he spelled out what the percentages were.
But the Fox propagandist, masquerading as a journalist, said it’s a lie, or an “untruth,” because many folks probably misunderstood what he said.
So he got mad not at what Buffett said but at what he himself supposed, without evidence, that many folks misunderstood, and he righteously debunked the misunderstanding, laying it at Buffett’s doorstep.
Isn’t that beautiful?
How can you not love these blowhards?
As for me, I have long been of the opinion that it’s ridiculous to have the top tax bracket be for couples making a lousy $379,150 when there are people in this country making millions and tens of millions every year. If we’re going to have a progressive tax system, in which people who make more pay at a higher rate, why cap it at such a low level?
There used to be 24 tax brackets; now there are only six.
As for President Obama’s proposed new bracket for people making $1 million and up, I say fine, but don’t stop there. Let’s have another bracket for people making $5 million and up, and so on, right up to the head of Viacom, who last year made $84.5 million.
A New York Post columnist, in the pay of the same media mogul as Fox propagandists, complained that Obama is “looking to make it [the tax code] more complicated with a new tax bracket,” which I got a big kick out of, complaining about making the tax code more complicated. If any of these miserable hacks could be honest for just one day, it would be noteworthy.
Fox propagandists and their allies in Congress call the super-rich “job creators,” which is cute, suggesting that what they do with their fabulous wealth is open machine shops in places like Schenectady and put people to work.
What drives them crazy is a super-capitalist like Warren Buffett defecting, admitting that he and other billionaires pay a smaller percentage of their income in taxes than middle-class people do, partly because their capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than a working person’s paycheck.
One Fox propagandist insisted he must be a socialist. Yes, a socialist. Warren Buffett, the most flagrantly successful capitalist of our time. It shows you what passes for thought in a propaganda operation.
Why is this? Why are so-called conservatives, including teapots, such shameless suck-ups to the very rich?
Well, that’s a question for another time. I can’t adddress everything in one column.
In the Creative Misspelling Department, this newspaper the other day referred to a renegade financial operator as a “rouge trader,” which alas sounded like somebody in the cosmetics game. It put a colleague in mind of the old Daffy Duck cartoon “The Scarlet Pumpernickle.” Don’t ask me why.
Then we had a letter to the editor stating with dismay that taxes provide jobs to “the party fateful,” which is one for the Homonym Hopper if you concede “faithful” a New York pronunciation.
And we had a news story about a couple of employees of the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. stealing protective metal grates from the base of trees to sell as scrap and “taking them under cover of their uniforms,” which blends the sense of “under color of law” with the sense of “under cover of darkness” and makes it sound like the guys were stuffing the grates under their shirts, which would really be something to see. Those grates are bulky.
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