President Obama talks about "shared sacrifice" in unloading our nation's economic burden, but then completely capitulates to big business interests before heading off to Martha's Vineyard for 10 days. So the task of shaming the wealthy into paying more taxes now falls to a billionaire who can say whatever the hell he wants, because he's a billionaire. See? The system works!
In a Times op-ed entitled "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich," the "Oracle of Omaha" Warren Buffett dispels the myths that defenders of the wealthy regularly parrot: raising taxes in fact doesn't discourage hiring, and capital gains taxes aren't preventing anyone from investing. He points out the inherent insanity that he pays a lower percentage of taxes than the people who work for him, just because he "make[s] money with money." But just ask them nicely, and they'll pay more:
I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.
Forgive us for being skeptical, Buffy: are the insanely wealthy donating less to Obama because of an insignificant "fat cat" jab, or because he might find the courage to tax them more than Rick Perry? Where was the flood of billionaire op-eds when the debt-ceiling negotiations were happening? Or when there was a possibility that the Bush tax cuts might have expired "prematurely?" And count Mayor Bloomberg out of this populist nonsense. Buffett's piece is the most forceful so far in his series for the Times, but it also highlights why the mega-rich will obviously never be willing to pay more taxes:
The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 [Americans who reported the largest income] was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)
So the only "job" the ultra-rich have is to make sure that they can keep making obscene amounts of money, so they don't have to work a job. This sounds like a job to us! Take away their capital gains loopholes and they'll just become working stiffs. Maybe we should give them a real reason to pay their fair share?
In other "rich people ain't so bad news" comes this fawning profile of "lessons" we should learn from rich people courtesy of the WSJ, using the Walton family (of Wal-Mart fame) as the standard. Conspicuously not on the list: favorable tax cuts and pouring money into Republican PACs and lobbying firms.