QUICK! TURN OFF THE POPULISM!
Michael Goodwin of the New York Daily News now:
From anger to madness: A class-warfare crazed government mob is running amok
... our representatives are gangsters in pinstripes and pearls. They are petty tyrants and the more power they grab, the more at risk we are....
It is twilight in America now. The House vote to use the tax code to retroactively punish bonus babies was an act of sheer madness. What started as phony outrage at AIG has crossed the line into insane policy. It is stunning that the vote was lopsided and bipartisan.
The Senate is itchy to go along, and President Obama says he's ready to tighten the thumbscrews on the banks. Is there no adult who will bring a straitjacket?
We should all be very afraid. Class warfare is mere predicate for a witch hunt that, once unleashed, will not stop with misbegotten wealth. It will punish success and stifle innovation. Dissent will invite dishonor....
The members of Congress, of course, are responding to anger from people who were Michael Goodwin's BFFs a year ago:
Snob-ama slight a big-time error
... Having grown up in one of those small Pennsylvania towns Sen. Barack Obama sneers at, I know what really makes people there "bitter." It's slick-talking politicians who look down on their beliefs and values.
... Snob-ama ... should get off his Ivy League horse and apologize to the millions of Americans he insulted. As it stands, he has confirmed he doesn't understand or respect them.
... In one sentence, Snob-ama de-legitimized every choice people in America are free to make. It's arrogance on steroids, fueled by a secular, elitist view of middle America as filled with ignorant red-necks....
Now that the ox being gored belongs to Goodwin's elitist pals on Wall Street, in response to Main Street anger, his message is: Leave the rich alooooooone!
Oops -- what did I call these people? Because I just found out from the other New York tabloid, the Post, that people who make half a million dollars a year or more aren't rich, they're "rich," in scare quotes:
(Right-wingers will howl at the notion of such a tax on the wealthy, arguing that it will drive them out of the state or compel them to "go Galt" and curtail their richification activities. But, as I told you last week, studies show that these predicted negative outcomes don't actually happen.)
And speaking of the rich and taxes, that Michael Goodwin "Snob-ama" column was published two days before Tax Day in 2008. By the way, what was tax policy like in the last year of the Bush administration?
Millionaires' audit chances fell 36% last year
IRS audits of taxpayers with income of $1 million or more declined by more than a third last year....
Audits of wealthy taxpayers dropped at least 36% in fiscal 2008 from 2007, according to a report released today by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. TRAC is a research group affiliated with Syracuse University.
The drop in audits affected returns filed by taxpayers who earned income at the height of the real estate boom, before the economy turned sour, the report said....
Several studies have shown that wealthy taxpayers are more likely to hide income from the IRS. Taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $500,000 to $1 million fail to report 21% of their income on average, vs. 7% for those earning $40,000 to $50,000, according to a 2008 analysis by Joel Slemrod, a University of Michigan economics professor, and IRS economist Andrew Johns....
Several times during the Bush years, the IRS claimed to be getting tough on the wealthy -- even as we saw stuff like this in 2006:
The federal government is moving to eliminate the jobs of nearly half of the lawyers at the Internal Revenue Service who audit tax returns of some of the wealthiest Americans, specifically those who are subject to gift and estate taxes when they transfer parts of their fortunes to their children and others....
Now, I suppose if we were being truly Randian, we wouldn't tax the rich at all -- in fact, we'd give the rich money from government revenues, as a reward (a retention bonus, if you will) for creating wealth. Only wage slaves should be taxed! We create no wealth whatsoever! The guy who cleans a gazillionaire CEO's toilet should pay more taxes than the gazillionaire CEO -- a toilet-cleaner creates no wealth! It's obvious! Non-wealth-creators are vermin!
(Except in election season, when rural non-wealth-creators are the salt of the earth, unlike those evil arugula-eating liberal elitists.)