Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has his secretary—and Barack Obama has…me. Like countless other U.S. taxpayers, I was interested but not at all surprised to learn, when I paid my annual visit to Mr. Block, that my effective tax rate for 2012 was higher than Mr. Obama’s enviable effective rate of 18 percent. I wonder if Mr. Buffett’s secretary—who, as the president never tires of reminding us, pays at a higher rate than her mogul boss—can recommend a good support group?
Honestly, I didn’t expect President Fair Share to kick in more than his legal requirement. You’d probably have to be even more enamored of big government than President Obama to randomly send insatiable Uncle Sam more than the federal government is “asking” from you.
But the irony is delicious—the guy who travels the land demanding higher taxes for others is paying a lower rate than I, a salaried employee at a nonprofit and sometime freelance writer, am paying. When Mitt Romney’s 2011 tax returns—he paid an effective rate of 14 percent—were released in 2012, the Obama campaign went into overdrive with moral indignation. So those four percentage points separating the high-minded president and his money grubbing challenger gave Mr. Obama moral preening rights?
If so, then a lot of us are entitled to moral preening rights. We have every right to ridicule Mr. Obama, who has no concept of what onerous taxes mean for average folks, and who, adding insult to injury, gobbles up our earnings to spend in ways we believe are harmful to the country. Note to other Average Folks: Don’t believe him when he says he’s only going to raise taxes on “the rich.”
If you tell me what you think about taxes, I can probably tell you all sorts of things about your values. Do you think a poor kid is more likely to benefit from the Head Start program or Sunday school? How you feel about taxes is the dividing line today in the United States.
Most journalists are fans of big government and taxes, so it was not surprising that the Washington Post’s Wonkblog on April 15 featured a little piece on how Americans really don’t mind our current level of taxation. “Your taxes are going towards insurance and defense, not ‘waste and fraud,’” Wonkblog informed us.
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