Well, what do you know? George Bush was right. Candidate George Bush, that is. In 1980 he labeled Reaganomics "voodoo" economics. Now President Bush finally agrees with his 10-year-younger self. It really is "voodoo" (more like sleight of hand) to try to increase military spending while giving enormous tax breaks to the rich and even come close to a reasonably balanced budget, without new taxes.
Now that the president concedes that more revenue is needed (partly because of the S&L mess, another example of Reagan(Bush)omics' welfare for the rich), the only question is where the revenue will come from. Taxes on goods (sales, value-added, etc.) are essentially regressive, striking the lower- and middle-income groups hardest because they spend a greater percentage of their income/wealth on actually buying things. Taxes on income are superficially progressive because personal exemptions ease the burden slightly on the poor while graduations cause those with large taxable (unshieldable) incomes to pay a larger percentage of said income in taxes. However, even the most graduated of income taxes (which we don't have now anyway) do not prevent the lower- and middle-income groups from paying a far larger percentage of their total wealth in taxes every year than their wealthier neighbors.
Considering that the rich benefited most from the Reagan-Bush decade, it would only be fair if they were called upon to pay for it, now that the bills are coming due. A tax on wealth would allow the Donald Trumps and Bunker Hunts to sacrifice for the common good as everyone else.
Might a wealth tax be considered to allow us to pay off our mounting fiscal and social debts without bankrupting the middle class? Probably not, because of the one eternal (at least until campaign-financing laws are passed) truth of politics: the one commodity that the rich can buy wholesale, the moderately well-off can at best buy retail, and the poor cannot afford at all, is political influence. THOMAS P. EHRENZELLER Alexandria