Okay, complete disclosure: I didn’t vote for you. But my wife did, so the split in our household was 50-50, which almost exactly mirrors the statewide result of your victory over Sen. George Allen (49.59-49.2 percent). Oh, and I predicted you’d lose this election, a guess I was wrong about (by fewer than 9,400 votes, but in politics a win by an inch is as good as a win by a mile).
So congratulations on proving me wrong.
Even without my vote, though, you’re going to be my senator for the next six years, and I’d like to see you succeed. However, so far you’re sounding more like a redistributionist Ted Kennedy clone than a conservative who voted for George W. Bush in 2000. Let’s look at some of your odd assertions in the Nov. 15 Wall Street Journal.
“America’s top tier has grown infinitely richer and more removed over the past 25 years. It is not unfair to say that they are literally living in a different country.” Oh, how so? “The top 1 percent now takes in an astounding 16 percent of national income, up from 8 percent in 1980,” you write. Further, you insist that “the tax codes protect them, just as they protect corporate America, through a vast system of loopholes.”
Indeed, the rich do earn a lot. But let’s consider how much that top 1 percent gives back to the country in taxes. According to the IRS, in 2004 the top 1 percent of tax filers paid 36.89 percent of federal income taxes. In other words, their tax burden is twice as high as their share of national income. If anything, wealthy people are overtaxed.
Interestingly, the IRS also says that the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers shelled out a total of 3.3 percent of all taxes. It’s difficult to see how we could cut taxes for them, since they already pay next to nothing.
Mr. Webb, you also claim that these wealthy people “own most of our stocks, making the stock market an unreliable indicator of the economic health of working people.” Well, those workers would probably disagree.
The Securities Industry Association reported last year that, “The number of households owning equities has increased more than three-fold since the early 1980s. Today, nearly 57 million U.S. households, half of all U.S. households, own stocks directly or through mutual funds.” Clearly, more people than ever are enjoying the benefits of being in the market.
Your piece concludes, “Our government leaders have no greater duty than to confront the growing unfairness in this age of globalization.” But you offer no solutions. So, let me make some suggestions that would begin to rectify the unfair situations mentioned above.
First, let’s dump our convoluted tax system.