Friday, October 24, 2008


There's a lot of talk lately about how Barack Obama's tax plans amount to socialism, or even communism. Let's take a look at a typical example, from radio talk show host Neal Boortz. Boortz recently wrote a letter "To The Undecided Voter," in which he says the undecideds should "try to base your final choice on some substantive facts." I'm all for that, but Boortz seems to be the one who needs to get his facts straight. Boortz says that "what Barack Obama is pushing here, at least insofar as his tax policies are concerned, is communism." He elaborates in this vivid passage:

"Let's talk heartbeats. Sounds weird, but I'm going somewhere here. A bit of Internet research led me to the fact that the average number of heartbeats in a life time for a human being is about one billion. To make this more understandable, the average human heart beats around 70 times a minute. In one eight-hour work day your heart beats around 33,600 times. This is your heart beating .. every beat subtracted from the one billion .. every beat a part of your life gone, never to be recovered. If you are a moderately successful human being Barack Obama is going to take about 13,000 (39%) of those heartbeats away from you every working day. Put your finger on your wrist and feel your pulse. Feel every heartbeat. Just count up to 100. How much of your life went by as you counted? You can't get those beats back. They're gone, for good. Remember, you only have a finite number of those beats of your heart left ... and Obama wants 13,000 of them every working day of your life. Those heartbeats – your life – being expended creating wealth. Your heartbeats, your wealth. Obama wants them. You don't need them. Someone else does. The police power of the state."

What Boortz might have said a little more accurately is:

"Barack Obama is going to take about 13,000 (39%) of those heartbeats away from you every working day if you make more than $250,000 a year. If, like 95% of all Americans, you make less than that -- say, you're one of those plumbers, waitresses, bricklayers or teachers whom John McCain loves so much -- then Barack Obama is going to take no more of your heartbeats than the federal government takes now. In fact, he's going to give most of you a tax cut, so that he'll take fewer heartbeats than the federal government takes now, and fewer than John McCain will take. For 95% of you.

"Yes, if you are in the top 5% of all American earners, Barack Obama is going to take 39% of your heartbeats. And guess what? John McCain is going to take 35% of them. That's what the federal government's been taking for the last 8 years, under President Bush's tax cuts for the richest.

"Somehow, it seems that I think that 35% of your heartbeats is the all-American, super-capitalist amount of heartbeats to take, but taking 39% constitutes communism.

"I guess the truth is that I, Neal Boortz, don't have the foggiest clue what communism even is, if I think Barack Obama is proposing communism at 39% but John McCain isn't at 35%."

Look, if people don't like Obama's tax plan, that's fine. But the essence of it is changing the top rate from 35% to 39%. The essence of it is going back to where we were in the 1990s for those making more than $250,000 a year. Maybe you think all progressive taxation is communism, in which case Barack Obama is a communist and so is John McCain and so is George Bush, Ronald Reagan, and every President we've had for nearly 100 years. But if you're willing to admit that we have capitalism now, and especially if you're willing to admit we had it in the 1990s, then calling Obama's tax plan communism is just plain stupid.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If Obama is giving "95% of working families" (whatever that means) a tax cut, then he will be giving refunds to people who don't pay any income taxes. He's effectively getting refunding payroll taxes for these people by raising taxes on the higher earners. He even admitted that he wanted to "spread the wealth around" in his response to Joe the Plumber. This country is trillions of dollars in debt and taxing the rich to give money to people who barely pay any taxes is not going to do anything to alleviate that debt.