It took Nancy Pelosi less than a week as Speaker of the House to begin talking seriously about tax hikes. On “Face the Nation” on CBS this weekend she raised the possibility of increasing the tax burden (by “repealing tax cuts”) for “those making over a certain amount of money, $500,000 a year.” She simultaneously promised tax cuts “for middle class families.”
The political calculation in this pitch is diabolically clever, of course. Nearly all Americans consider themselves “middle class,” no matter how much or how little they make, so her support for reduced taxes for “middle class families” sounds wonderful. Meanwhile, less than 2% of tax returns show income in excess of $500,000 a year so the Speaker is, in effect, inviting 98% of the public to improve their status at the expense of a tiny minority that’s already widely resented because of its “excessive” success.
If you’re nowhere near that $500,000 level where the Democrats say they’ll start punishing you, why should you care if Pelosi & Pals jack up the tax rates on the fortunate few who can afford to fund the rest of us?
Actually, this question’s just as pertinent for me as it for most of the people reading this column since my family (alas) falls below that half-million a year threshold. Yes, I’m lavishly blessed with my job and I’m delighted to earn a great income that provides us with all sorts of privileges, but we’ve never approached the multi-million dollar income that many listeners (thanks to well-publicized deals for the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern) associate with successful radio hosts.
In any event, the fact that I might manage to escape unscathed from Pelosi’s proposed tax increases doesn’t make me any less indignant at the idea that she wants to squeeze more from the most productive wealth-creators in our society.
Herewith, three reasons that even those who’ll never earn a half-million a year should oppose these tax hikes, followed by three powerful lessons from the current political situation.
First, the reasons that Americans at every income level should fight against a tax increase on any income level:
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