Democrat and former Michael Dukakis campaign manager Susan Estrich is very upset that the presidential candidate whom she supported actually is intent on raising taxes on the rich — which, lo and behold, includes her. She complains: “I did not vote for Obama because I think I am paying too little in taxes. Like many people I know, I am ‘rich’ by Obama’s standards. I pay more taxes, percentage wise, than Mitt Romney and Warren Buffett, because I earn virtually every penny of my income. I work. And yes, all those deductions that allow the truly rich to not work, or at least to not work all the jobs I do, make me angry.”
She means she earns mostly ordinary income as opposed to capital gains, but you see her point — who the heck is Obama to tell a hardworking upper-middle class gal she’s not paying enough in taxes?!
The irony is great because she precedes this complaint with an ode to all the things she likes about Obama — Obamacare, environmental regulation, federal support for schools, etc. In other words, she is a typical American who wants very big government but doesn’t want to pay for it.
I don’t mean to pick on Estrich. She’s a very pleasant, reasonable Democrat (and a former, fellow congregant of ours). But she is indicative of the problem facing Obama and fellow liberals. If you live in New York or Los Angeles and have an income of $250,000, two kids and a house in a nice but not ostentatious neighborhood, you are not living a lavish lifestyle and you already pay gobs and gobs in taxes. You didn’t inherit wealth and you worked hard in college and in your profession, only to find yourself living paycheck to paycheck. And now, you’re going to get socked with a tax hike.
You see, Obama’s class warfare game becomes far less effective when the targets aren’t a sliver of plutocrats but hardworking white-collar parents with school bills, aging parents and no idea how they are ever going to retire. (They’re not, as to the latter. In 20 years, offices will be filled with professionals age 70 and up, which creates a whole other slew of problems, but that’s for another time.)
In short, Obama supporters are delighted with big government but are certain there are other people out there — the real rich people — to pay for it. Obama is content to run up the debt, erect a new entitlement plan and say he’ll stick it to the rich, but there aren’t enough really rich people to spare the Estrich family and many others like hers. Moreover, the weight of that debt and the prospect of higher taxes make the economic squeeze even greater for Estrich and her kids (who will go to college, run up huge debt and find it hard to get a job that comes close to matching her income).
At least Republicans are willing (at least in principle) to cut the government in order to spare Estrich and others more financial pain. But the Democrats want it both ways — spare all but the tippy-top of the income ladder (and so far the Democrats are clinging to the $250,000 figure) and keep growing government. It does not work. This is what the fiscal train-wreck is all about. We cannot avoid aligning the size of government with the amount of revenue the populace ( mostly people like Estrich) are willing to pay.
This is just the start of the great taxpayer awakening. For years Republicans have been warning that the Obama-size of government will require much more than taxing the “rich.” That means not only the $250,000 earners (say, a white-collar professional with a mortgage, college tuition bills and a mother in long-term care) but the $80,000 earners (say a teacher in Massachusetts with a cramped condo, an old car and kids) also are going to be told they have to pay even more of their income to the federal government. This, dear Democratic voters, is the reality of the Obama economy. Good luck convincing all those people they are ”rich.”