By Scott Tibbs, April 24, 2012
Barack Obama is making tax "fairness" a centerpiece of his campaign and he is trying to exploit Mitt Romney's personal wealth to drive up resentment for the rich. But Obama's whining about the "Buffett Rule" ignores some very important facts. Let's take a trip to Literalville, courtesy of this helpful chart from the National Taxpayers Union:
- The top 1% paid 36.73% of federal income taxes in 2009
- The top 5% paid 58.66% of federal income taxes in 2009
- The top 10% paid 70.47% of federal income taxes in 2009
- The top 25% paid 87.30% of federal income taxes in 2009
This is a phony issue, folks. If you listen to Obama, you would think that we do not have a graduated income tax, and that we instead have a regressive income tax. This is pure class envy based on a few limited cases. Obama even admitted this will do virtually nothing to close his extravagant budget deficits. Obama says it is about "fairness."
This is not to say that there are not reforms to be made to the tax system. One of the big problems with the tax code is that it is so big and complicated that it is a cesspool of special-interest favoritism, and it provides a never-ending temptation for Congress to fiddle with it to various political ends. A flat tax would eliminate all of that.
But while I would prefer a completely flat tax, that is not realistic right now. Supporters of the flat tax need to be laying the philosophical groundwork now in hopes of reaching the goal in the future. It should be possible, though, to get bipartisan agreement for making the tax rates a little flatter (and lower) in exchange for eliminating deductions and simplifying the tax code to remove some of the special-interest favoritism.
Romney should engage Obama on this issue, especially on the meaningless "Buffett Rule" gimmick.