Let's Eat the Rich

Obama's misguided economic agenda

Some wiseguys at the Economic Freedom Network just released a survey alleging that the United States has fallen from the sixth-freest economy in the world to the 10th-freest. The survey is based on four foundations of a healthy capitalist society: "personal choice, voluntary exchange coordinated by markets, freedom to enter and compete in markets, and protection of persons and their property from aggression by others."

Or what progressives might call greed, racism, unfairness, and immorality.

Certainly, this decline is no surprise. After imagined outbreaks of "unfettered" capitalism, these tenets have been on the outs around these parts. Technocrats want to coordinate markets and choices. And "having" is now the same as "taking." Hey, and the government has been monumentally irresponsible with that "budgeting" deal for a few decades, so it's time to hold someone responsible. Why not the rich?

When President Barack Obama unveiled his new un-passable "deficit reduction plan," many accused him of playing class envy. The plan ostensibly calls for $1 in budget cuts (cuts that would never happen) for every $1 in tax increases ($1.5 trillion). And if we're not willing to ask more from the rich, says the president, "then the logic—the math—says everybody else has to do a whole lot more; we've got to put the entire burden on the middle class and the poor."

This argument is offered by Obama in endless iterations, but it won't add up until we invent an Arabic numeral that signifies a lie. In no way, by no percentage, no matter how you quantify or qualify or twist it, does the middle class (or certainly the poor) pay more in taxes than the rich. As an Associated Press fact check put it, "on average, the wealthiest people in America pay a lot more taxes than the middle class or the poor, according to private and government data."

That doesn't mean a person can't argue the rich should pay more than the 80 or 90 percent of federal taxes they already do. Go for it. In that debate, Republicans can make many strong arguments about how tax-the-rich schemes (seemingly Obama's sole idea) are counterproductive. But there are three points that they can't make but should.

First, let's thank the rich for being so generous.

Because there is no shared sacrifice. If the wealthy were really paying their fair share of this out-of-control budget, the rest of us would be destitute tout de suite.

Taxes have not increased for the middle class in a very long time. The poor (by which we also mean people starting out and ending their careers) haven't been asked to "sacrifice" for that $3.7 trillion gift to humanity called a budget. If this immense government is so moral, patriotic, and embedded in our national fiber, why not ask everyone to participate, Mr. President?

Life's not fair.

You'll notice that for many progressives, taking from the rich is not simply a necessity of budgeting but a moral imperative and a tool to institute fairness that capitalism supposedly hasn't. After Rep. Paul Ryan deconstructed the president's phony political deficit plan, Daily Beast columnist Michael Tomasky asked whether the congressman is "stupid, a liar, or something even more malevolent, a morally diseased ogre who secretly believes ... that the rich deserve every handout government can offer them."

You'll notice that Tomasky is lashing out and moralizing as if someone had challenged his religious beliefs. ... Oh. Is earned money really a government handout? I guess that if you believe—as Tomasky and others clearly do—that the bigger the government the more moral the society, perhaps all of this makes sense somehow.

We don't need their money.

Even if Obama's increases on the rich would slightly help the bottom line on the deficit—and that is a best-case scenario without any entitlement reform—many barbarians like me would not care. It is no lasting solution. It's not a solution at all. We need a smaller, leaner Washington. It won't happen if we raise taxes without any coinciding reform and serious slashing of spending.

That, though, is anathema to the left. Though there is nothing more moral we could do.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Blaze. Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.

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  • Hate Potion Number Nine||

    Finally, The obvious Motorhead reference!

  • BakedPenguin||

    You never know, maybe Harsanyi is a Krokus fan. I'm sure they exist.

  • ||

    We could use this: √-1.

  • Rich||

    Despite the complexity, I like it.

  • ||

    You and your imaginary solutions.

  • ||

    I'm lobbying for Secretary of the Treasury.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    i. The entire reason I lost faith in math. Fuck calc.

  • ||

    i is what turned me on to mathematics. It is just amazing. You can have a number that you can't understand or really conceive of in any concrete terms. But that same number can be used in equations to produce actual concrete answers. The wonderful mystery that is mathematics.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I am proud of not knowing calculus, in a career where the academians think it is necessary. Fuck them.

  • ||

    The people who get back more in tax credits than they owe in taxes are already doing this, in a way. They are paying imaginary taxes on imaginary income; the product is necessarily negative.

  • Jose||

    i wonder if we can come up with a better symbol for that.

  • ||

    That's the problem with this president--too much i.

  • Rich||

    if we're not willing to ask more from the rich, says the president, "then the logic—the math—says everybody else has to do a whole lot more"

    However, as Ayn Rand said, "Check your assumptions". Perhaps government has to do a whole lot less. Logic, math, ....

  • A Serious Man||

    I say everyone pays a flat tax. If government can't fund itself at that point then we know it's too big.

  • Government||

    Done. Everyone, cough up 70%.

  • ||

    Better idea...

    Take the budget (old #...$1.5T) and divide by the number of people in the country 320m. = $4687.50/person/year

    That's what every American owes each year. Has the advantage of controlling the size of government in that no one will argue for an increase to the burden on the poor and it provides incentive for those unable to support their offspring to quit breeding.

    A true "fair" tax.

  • ||

    Somebody's gotta buy those $16 muffins for DOJ! Our civilization will be gutted if they don't get their muffins!

  • Rich||

    I heard a caterer explain it's not the muffins per se, but rather the delivery, set-up, service, and take-down that make the price seem unreasonable. So there.

  • ||

    Sure, because we certainly can't expect government workers to buy their own muffins or set them out on a table by themselves. They could end up on disability.

  • MacKlingon||

    a prostitute told me something like that once regarding the price of a 5 minute BJ

  • prolefeed||

    It's not a 5 minute BJ for her -- it's a lot of down time searching for a customer -- unless she is going with the "set low prices and get enormous volume so you always have a cock in your mouth, or are about to" business model.

  • Mainer||

    Or it could be like Pablo Picasso, who did a sketch of someone on their request in a few minutes, then quoted a high price. When the customer protested that it had only taken him a few minutes to produce, Picasso supposedly replied, No it took me a life time. Perhaps your prostitute was the Picasso of BJ's and you received the result of a lifetime of practice.

  • Drave Robber||

    There obviously are lots of "Picassos of CF's" in the government. In every government, even.

  • ||

    Ben Bernanke worked his ass off to inflate the price of muffins; what are you griping about, you ingrate?

    We're on the road to recovery!

  • ||

    LOL, I guess you could call inflating government workers' asses to be "infrastructure spending". Obama will probably count it.

  • ||

    I'm lobbying for Secretary of the Treasury.

    With a turban and a crystal ball, you'll be a shoo-in.

  • ||

    Don't be absurd. I'm a man of science and reason. Imaginary numbers and renormalization shall be my tools.

  • sevo||

    Indeed they are! In another job.

  • GW||

    These recent proposals by Obama are complete bullshit, but politically brilliant. And he knows it.

  • Restoras||

    From Market-Ticker:

    We must have an open and public conversation in this nation on exactly what services we all wish our government to provide. For each of those services we must fund them with current taxes - not borrowing. For any such service that the American people collectively refuse to fund with current taxes, the government must withdraw the desired service.

    Since both political parties assert that we must also honor our actual debts we must first dedicate the interest and a modest amount of principal paydown from the Federal Budget that "comes first." I suggest all interest plus $200 billion in principal per year. Given current tax receipts this leaves us with approximately $1.7 trillion to spend on all functions of Government, or about half of what the Federal government does now.

    This is a difficult set of choices, but it must be undertaken and it must happen now. Not in three years, not in five, not in ten. Right here, right now, today. You blew it with the "debt ceiling" debate and your proposals thus far, given these facts, are a joke, but this is no laughing matter.

    Quit ****ing around, gentlemen, lest we wind up like Greece.

    http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=194559

  • ||

    Denninger gets a little overheated at times, and has a peculiar opposition to global free trade, but on this one he is exactly right.

    I also like his tax reform plan.

  • ||

    Given current tax receipts this leaves us with approximately $1.7 trillion to spend on all functions of Government

    How dare he suggest that the Federal government can survive spending a mere $53,870 per second.

    How. Dare. He.

  • Joe M||

    Can we borrow money to pay off our debt?

    That was a joke at first, but I now wonder if we have older, higher interest rate bonds that we could replace with new, lower interest rate bonds. Might shave a few tens of billions off the interest payments. Not sure how old the oldest debt is though.

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    Important points to make, as witness Monday's MotherJones.com.

  • ||

    I've about decided that the fundamental dishonesty in this whole farce is in the 10 year time horizon.

    This allows politicians to propose, account for, and take credit for changes that may or many not ever actually happen. Exhibit A: the "Doc Fix". Exhibit B: the reduction in spending due to troop drawdowns.

    These things should be scored solely on the current fiscal year. And maybe the next. Everything after that is illusory, and thus, deceptive.

    If you can't say "We're cutting spending by $X right now", then you aren't cutting spending. You are merely announcing your fond hope that some future Congress will make the cuts, in spite of the fact that the current Congress refuses to.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    This allows politicians to propose, account for, and take credit for changes that may or many not ever actually happen. Exhibit A: the "Doc Fix". Exhibit B: the reduction in spending due to troop drawdowns.

    Right--the majority of the "cuts" are inevitably put on the back end, so that they end up being overwhelmed by cumulative spending increases and inflation, and are thus rendred negligible.

  • ||

    It also makes it easier for them to sell the notion that inflating the budget slightly less than "projected" is a "cut".

  • ||

    Michael Tomasky asked whether the congressman is "stupid, a liar, or something even more malevolent, a morally diseased ogre who secretly believes ... that the rich deserve every handout government can offer them."

    This cries out for a background soundtrack of screeching tires, followed by car-crash noises.

    When you leave the pavement, take your foot off the gas, Tomasky.

  • ||

    "That, though, is anathema to [both] the left [and right]…"

    There. Fixed it.

  • ||

    You are merely announcing your fond hope that some future Congress will make the cuts, in spite of the fact that the current Congress refuses to.

    Or expecting some heretofore-unknown, yet vastly wealthy, relative to bequeath you the entirety of his fortune.

  • ||

    Perhaps they have dreams of global conquest?

  • squarooticus||

    I was hoping for something in-depth. This column is entirely content-free. I mean, really: who exactly is this article intended to convince? It may be worthy of fist-pumping for people who are already libertarian, but will do nothing to change minds.

  • sevo||

    "It may be worthy of fist-pumping for people who are already libertarian, but will do nothing to change minds."

    Uh, any idea how to so that?

  • MJ||

    "After Rep. Paul Ryan deconstructed the president's phony political deficit plan, Daily Beast columnist Michael Tomasky asked whether the congressman is "stupid, a liar, or something even more malevolent, a morally diseased ogre who secretly believes ... that the rich deserve every handout government can offer them."

    Of course, Ryan is not talking about the rich keeping handouts from the government, but rather the government taking more away. What odds do I get for suspecting that Tomasky is all for "green energy" subsidies? At least in the abstract?

  • Brandon||

    I want to know how many US bonds Barack Obama holds.

  • Dylan||

    You lose either way:

    (1) He's stupid enough to hold US bonds

    or

    (2) He knows full well his plans won't work but proposes them anyway

  • prolefeed||

    First, let's thank the rich for being so generous.

    It's not generosity when someone steals a lot of money from you at gunpoint.

  • ||

    the logic—the math—says

    2 + 2 = 9

    Because FAIRNESS.

  • sarcasmic||

    We know the rich don't pay their fair share because they're rich.

    If they paid their fair share then they wouldn't be rich.

    Well, no rich except those who acquire their wealth through political means (force) instead of capitalist means (trade).

  • ||

    Precisely -- let's ship all those rich people to a concentration camp of some sort! Since they aren't gonna pay their fair share, fuck 'em!

  • sarcasmic||

    Then we can keep the loot for ourselves after we hand out enough to the masses to keep them from openly rebelling.

    Shit! Crap! There's nothing left to loot and nobody is producing anything!
    What do we do?!?

  • Old Mexican||

    Even if Obama's increases on the rich would slightly help the bottom line on the deficit—and that is a best-case scenario without any entitlement reform—many barbarians like me would not care. It is no lasting solution. It's not a solution at all.


    Even the Vikings realized that the looting expeditions were unsustainable.

    Raiding the rich will simply make people less rich. Why would the government pursue this zero-sum game can only be explained by political expediency, a lack of understanding or plain and simple stupidity.

  • sarcasmic||

    Raiding the rich will simply make people less rich. Why would the government pursue this zero-sum game can only be explained by...

    a desire to make people less rich?

  • ||

    But you forget about the multiplier effect of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

  • sarcasmic||

    That's true!
    I forgot that removing money from the economy through taxation and the selling of bonds (opportunity cost), giving some to government employees who produce nothing of value, then giving what's left to political cronies, the money magically grows.
    My bad.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Sarcasmic,

    a desire to make people less rich?


    Goes back to the question: Why?

    It could be:

    a) To score points with the sheeple (i.e. political expediency)
    b) Lack of understanding (i.e. wrong or incorrect knowledge)
    c) Stupidity (i.e. keeping at it like a mindless dolt.)

  • sarcasmic||

    d)Emotion(i.e. taxation can cure envy)

  • Realist||

    Your attribution of good intent is probably misplaced.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "And if we're not willing to ask more from the rich, says the president, "then the logic—the math—says everybody else has to do a whole lot more; we've got to put the entire burden on the middle class and the poor."

    And by that of course,the socialist in chief doesn't mean placing an ACTUAL burden on them - he means cutting some of the handouts of other people's money that they are currently getting.

    Being the socialist twit that he is, he considers getting a smaller handout to equate to creating a "burden".

    And being a socialist twit, he is flat out wrong about that.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Huge LOL at his assertion that the rich would be "asked" to pay more, instead of having it forcibly deducted at the point of a gun.

  • ||

    Did you guys hear about the occupy wall street thing?

  • ||

    Who's streets! Our Streets! "The problem is, 1% of the country owns 99% of the wealth!" Shame! shame! shame!

    *rofl*

    Uh oh, looks like it's time for evil corporations to back down and surrender the booty!

  • BakedPenguin||

    Nice essay, but I'm sure the progressive are too "real" for that.

  • ||

    I love how I keep hearing that the rich pay less than the middle class and the conclusion is ALWAYS that the rich should pay more, not that the middle class should pay less.

    Why is that?

  • ||

    because a liberal would sooner support a war than vote for a tax cut. For anyone. It's not your money anyway; the govt is simply benevolent enough to let you keep some of what earn for its purposes.

  • Nicholas Card||

    I'm so happy to more and more news outlets decrying this obvious class warfare. Not only is reason leading the way, but we have mainstream liberal publications like AP that are doing fact-checking on the President's speeches and uncovering his lie.

    I go into great detail about how the rich already pay enough, and, one-by-one, debunk all the reasons why the rich should pay more in taxes: The Fallacy of Taxing the Wealthy

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Sometimes I wish I was a better guitar player. When I compare my playing to Greg Ginn, I get jealous. I could practice and improve my playing, but that could be hard and take a long time. Instead, I want President Obama to cut off Greg Ginn's fingers and give them to me. That way, I can play guitar good, too.

  • Yet another Dave||

    There was a poll done on a college campus a few weeks back that was really interesting. They quizzed students about how they felt about giving up some of their GPA points to help other students who were struggling. Not surprisingly, every single student quizzed thought it was a bad idea - after all, they *earned* thier GPAs and had no desire to share the wealth with anyone else.

  • ||

    and dave,
    how many of those students support(ed) Obama anyway? How about their professors, who would likewise laugh if you asked them to "share the achievement" so every student could do reasonably well. Liberalism relies on the massively uninformed and/or intellectually lazy for its survival.

  • Lurker Jack||

    In academia they teach this lesson through 'group projects'. Most students, and faculty, miss the goddamn point.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Like I told my liberal friend, the gov't borrows .40 of every dollar it spends. When it gets to 1.00 of every dollar it spends, we'll see who is right.

  • Lowdog||

    My "progressive" friends just sent me this quote from Elizabeth Warren that has their hearts a fluttering.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Thanks for the warning, an idiot liberal friend has already posted this on Facebook.

  • Yet another Dave||

    Someone explain this to me, because I'm confused. There's a lot of socialist countries in the world already, and some of them are very nice. Canada and Switzerland both come to mind. If liberals like Elizabeth Warren hate capitalism so much, and clearly long for living under a socialist system ... the boarders are open, nobody is stopping you from moving to a country that's already got an ultra-nanny setup going on. I may not be rich, but I do like the idea that one day, I might actually be ... and I don't think it's right that there are those who will want to punish me for achieving the American dream if and when I do actually pull it off.

  • ||

    In the punk scene, most of the kids are liberal. I got used to it. As long as they keep their arguments civil, I don't care. It's the really really left hippie/crust punks that worry me. They will try to literally kick your ass (when it's 20 of them) when you disagree with them. Try eating a hamburger from McDonalds at the next FNB meeting.

  • ||

    Oh, and let's not forget about the Anarchist Punks who voted for Obama and want the government to pay their medical bills. You can try to rationally argue with these guys, but it's easier just to laugh at them, walk away, drink a beer, and eat a cheesesteak.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Wise words, my friend... Wise words.

  • ||

    Anarchist Punks, left hippie/crust punks, Chaos Punk, punk scene.

    Soooo...

    ....did the punks invent a time machine in the late 70s and invade 2011?

  • ||

    possibly, ask Stephen Hawking.

  • ||

    A brilliant exercise in both question begging and strawman construction. Very impressive actually

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Christ, what gibberish in that quote. It's like these crusty late-Boomers still think it's the 1970s and they can save America's heavy industry for the low-educated proles they're supposedly championing.

    I guess Warren hasn't noticed that Steve Jobs doesn't need America's roads or public schools to make his iPods.

  • ||

    The stupid, it burns!!!

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Wow, Lowdog. The stupidity makes my eyes burn.

  • Lowdog||

    Yes, they think it is the best quote ever.

  • Lowdog||

    I love how there would apparently be roving bands of mauraders if not for the police. And factories would simply burn down if not for the fire department.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    And the income tax is the ONLY source of revenue for the gov't. Nothing existed before 1914.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    I wonder what the police and fire departments - both of which are state and local functions and all already paid for by the "rich" people through taxes at that level have to with justifying an increase in federal income taxes?

    Ditto for highways that are paid for by gas tax user fees and the state and federal level and are also already paid for by the "rich".

    And I wonder if MS Warren can prove exactly what "extra special" things it was that the roads, police and fire departments did for those "rich" people that wasn't available to anyone else to account for the difference in economic outcomes.

    Actually I don't wonder that at all becuase it is blindingly obvious that she is completely full of shit and cannot prove so much as a single word of anything she said in that quote.

  • Realist||

    "Obama's misguided economic agenda"
    This presupposes you know the intent.

  • Old Mexican||

    Oh. Is earned money really a government handout? I guess that if you believe—as Tomasky and others clearly do—that the bigger the government the more moral the society, perhaps all of this makes sense somehow.


    The backward-thinking of the left: Money from productive efforts is not really earned, it's instead an allowance by Our Father, the State.

  • Old Mexican||

    Another example of the backwardness of the dumb left is journalists naming the act of charitable giving - by celebrities or very rich people - "giving back" to the community, as if those people that are "giving back" had "taken it" outside voluntary trade. Obviously, the clueless celebrities do not understand the implication of the words, merely because they are romantics and because they're stupid beyond remedy.

  • ||

    Also never forget that whenever they talk of getting the rich, they really mean getting the middle class.

    All the real money comes from the middle class and that's the only place to get more, effectively All talk of soaking the rich is a trick to get the middle class to agree to get soaked themselves.

  • ||

    I'm kind of confused why Elizabeth Warren is receiving so much praise for the punish the rich sentiments guised in her "pay it foward" speech. Weren't these same kind of old tactics attempted already? Sign the Socialist-Free Pledge. Isn't this what started the whole thing off?

    It borders on sociological cliché. How many times is the "we pay for cops and firefighters" nonsense need to get beaten down before it stays down? Reminds me of Canadian Sketch Comedy... same joke over and over.

    The real reality of the situation, no matter how sugar coated you try to make your rhetoric, we know that it is just unchecked hatred of wealthy people

  • BUT BUT BUT....||

    But what about PAYROLL TAXES? Even though those programs (SS and medicare) are self-funding and don't contribute to the deficit and aren't really in "crisis" (it's what thinkprogress says!), the fact that lower income people pay a higher percentage on them is 100% relevant to discussions about deficits and burden sharing!

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Well they have to change the subject, because they don't have a leg to stand on regarding the federal income tax.

    The argurment is, of course, complete bullshit.

    The people who aren't paying income taxes are using government services financed by those income taxes and they should start paying up like everybody else. It's as simple as that.

    Their "but they pay FICA taxes" arguement is like saying some people should be excused from paying their electric bill because they paid their water bill.

    One thing has nothing to do with the other.

  • ||

    Why is Obama proposing this anyway?

    Didn't he just sign a bill to form a super committee to look at this very issue?

  • sevo||

    "Why is Obama proposing this anyway?"

    I'm going out on a limb and suggesting his last couple of rants didn't do anything for the polls and now he's taking random shots hoping something will stick on the wall.

  • Aimeng||

    Their "but they pay FICA taxes" arguement is like saying some people should be excused from paying their electric bill because they paid their water bill.
    http://www.aimengcrystal.com

  • Tracy||

    Don't contribute to the deficit and aren't really in "crisis" (it's what thinkprogress says!), the fact that lower income people pay a higher percentage on them is 100% relevant to discussions about deficits and burden sharing!
    http://www.aimengcrystal.com

  • James M. Martin||

    Eat the rich? No, I have a more modest proposal. Since so many children are starving and since all of us old folks need to share the sacrifice, why don't we start up plants making Soylent Green which we could then feed to our babies. Just a thought.

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