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Soak The Rich!

Recently, multimillionaire media mogul Arianna Huffington was featured on some exceptionally obscure show on some network I've never heard of (Keith Olber-something, I think, who apparently is an ex sports guy who has his own show on PMSNBC or whatever) and demonstrated an extreme ignorance of the fundamentals of economics.

This really shouldn't come as any great surprise. Huffington is an extremely wealthy woman, but she didn't really earn it.

Huffington was the daughter of a successful Greek businessman who attended the best schools in Europe, then parlayed her connections from that into the Republican social circles of California. She found a wealthy family that wanted to marry off their embarrassingly gay scion and bearded for him, even having a couple of kids, until her political ambitions finally pushed him to buy first a seat in the House, and then run for the Senate.

All that time, Arianna burnished her conservative credentials, rubbing elbows with the movement's movers and shakers and establishing herself as a bit of a pundit on her own and raising scads of money from her new bestest buddies for their candidates.

Well, that all came crashing down when her hubby, after losing the 1994 Senate race where he spent $28 million. A couple of years later, Michael Huffington couldn't continue living the lie and came out of the closet, and the two divorced amicably -- with Arianna walking away with a very, very healthy settlement.

(Hmm... maybe she DID earn that money after all...)

With her finances secure, Arianna then could ditch the mask she'd worn for years -- the loyal, supportive, conservative wife of a rising GOP star -- and finally brought her own far-left self out of its own closet. Now, she's a star on the left -- thanks to the Republican money from her former in-laws that she... earned the old-fashioned way.

She reminds me of another major figure in Democratic circles -- Senator (and former presidential nominee) John Forbes Kerry.

Kerry was born into the Forbes family, but not the wealthy branch. He had the Boston Brahmin accent and the good schools and whatnot, but lacked the old money that most people think of when they hear the name "Forbes." So he set his eye on politics as his path. He served his stint in the Navy, trying to play as close to combat in Viet Nam without actually risking himself (a ploy that failed, when the Swift boats he volunteered for were reassigned to combat duty right after he joined up). After collecting his third Purple Heart (one of them for an extremely trivial "wound), he took the "3 strikes and you're out" option and cut short his tour of duty.

Then, when he came home, he parlayed his "war hero" status to become a leading figure among the anti-war movement, then flipped that into a political career. (He also manage to dump the Brahmin accent.) Along the way he corrected the flaw of his birth -- he married an heiress, worth a cool third of a billion dollars.

Sadly, the first Mrs. Kerry wasn't cut out for the life of a political wife. She apparently told him to choose her or his career, and nobody puts Liveshot's ambitions in the corner.

Even more sadly, she took most of her money with her. Kerry spent several years in serious financial straits, even staying at the homes of friends and staffers to save on rent in and around DC.

That's when fortune (literally) smiled on Kerry. He was a single Senator in need of a wealthy wife. Enter Theresa Heinz, the widow of a very, very wealthy Republican senator. More than that, she was willing to pull an Arianna and dump her conservative history and embrace (again, literally) liberalism as the price for re-entering the Congressional Wives' Club.

And that's how John Forbes Kerry (D-MA) is currently the wealthiest (by far) member of the Senate: from the money of his second wife's first husband's Republican family.

Then there's Charlie Rangel. The poor boy from Harlem went into the Army just in time for Korea, where he served quite heroically. Then he came back and got a law degree. He only spent one year in the private sector before going to "work" for the government in 1961 -- and he's been on the public payroll for every one of the 49 years since.

And in that time, he's amassed such a hefty fortune that he can't even keep track of it all well enough to pay the taxes he himself writes. He owns a very, very nice villa in the Dominican Republic that he rents out most of the year, but plumb forgot about it for years every tax season. He owns a classic Mercedes, but one day several years ago parked it in the House garage and forgot about that, too. And last year he had to amend his 2007 tax return -- he had overlooked over half a million dollars in income and assets from that year.

Quite an accomplishment for the son of a single mother who supported her family as a maid and seamstress, and who has spent only one year of his life not being paid by the government.

These are all too typical stories. As Professor Bainbridge noted, members of Congress have done astonishingly well with their investments and personal fortunes while in office -- well above average, and certainly well above what one would expect with the financial and economic acumen they routinely demonstrate.

It pains me to say it, but Massachusetts has a good idea here. (Naturally, it was pushed through by Republicans, who sneaked it past the tremendous supermajority the Democrats hold in the bluest of blue states.) Several years ago, the Democrats tried to jack up the state's income tax. The Republicans and libertarians stuck a condition on it: the higher rate would be optional. If someone felt that the state needed more money or that they were being undertaxed, they could choose to pay 5.85% instead of the default 5.3% rate.

Naturally, every year some Massachusetts residents make that choice. It usually runs about one-third of one percent (0.3%), or three in one thousand, who do so. And to the best of my knowledge, not a single major elected official has ever chosen to do so -- not the late Ted Kennedy, not John Kerry, not Barney Frank, not any of the rest of the congressional delegation.

So when the Democrats in Congress decide they want to raise taxes, let's start off by making it optional -- let them put to the test Joe Biden's declaration that paying taxes is "patriotic" and demonstrate their own patriotism. Let them show some true leadership and patriotism by -- for once -- putting their own money where their mouths are. Let them give back to the government the money they've been taking for years and years.


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Comments (36)

I wonder how often, Teddy, ... (Below threshold)

I wonder how often, Teddy, Johnny or Bonnie have been asked if they chose to pay the higher rate? Surely the media would be interested! BWAHAHAHAHAHA

Unhhh, sure Jay. Why not? N... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

Unhhh, sure Jay. Why not? No doubt it will forestall the need for any real tax increases for years to come. Go for it.

Well look, you're being glib, so I went for sarcastic. Maybe Dane will come by and do obtuse.

Step 1. Pass FairTax at 25%... (Below threshold)

Step 1. Pass FairTax at 25% instead of 23%.
Step 2. Wait for the business climate to improve.
Step 3. Pay down the debt.
Step 4. Reduce FairTax to 20%
Step 5. Trim back the Fed. Gov. some more.
Step 6. Reduce FairTax to 18%
Step 7. Profit!

You left Obama off your lis... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

You left Obama off your list Jay. Just a week or two ago he was talking about how he knows how hard it is because just a few years ago they were struggling just like the rest of us.

I don't think Obama realized that he was pointing out that after he went into politics he became a multi-millionare mostly through corrupt activities.

He's like Rangel on curruption-steriods.

I thought about it, Bunyan,... (Below threshold)

I thought about it, Bunyan, but I was already past 1,000 words.

You know, someone could turn this theme into a whole book...


While we are on the subject... (Below threshold)

While we are on the subject of soaking the rich...can someone PLEASE explain to me one thing? WHY is it that so many of the really wealthy are Democrats or at least FOR RAISING taxes? Warren Buffet thinks Nebraska's property taxes are too low (I don't..who wants to live where the winters are worse then they are in Montana at times?) A lot of the hollywood folks who make a gazillion dollars in movies/tv (Julia Roberts, Christie Brinkley, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and the list goes on)....all are for the higher taxes. I know we don't care about their opinions (I don't), but I'm curious as to why the really rich are for more taxation and regulation when it MUST affect them to some extent. George Soros is another. WHY????

"Let them show some true le... (Below threshold)

"Let them show some true leadership and patriotism by -- for once -- putting their own money where their mouths are."

Not gonna happen. Democrats pass tax laws, they don't PAY taxes. Seems to be a requirement to work for the current administration. Just ask Timmy.

Re# 5: True that.... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

Re# 5: True that.

Jay, you astound me with yo... (Below threshold)

Jay, you astound me with your great ideas. Keep them coming.

"...but I'm curious as ... (Below threshold)

"...but I'm curious as to why the really rich are for more taxation and regulation when it MUST affect them to some extent. George Soros is another. WHY????"

It's very simple.

To be aristocrats, there must be a lower class. You must have special perqs and priveleges that THEY can't - because it's not special if everyone can have it.

Flying used to be for the elite - the well-heeled or well-connected. Now, air travel's about as much fun as taking a Greyhound cross country - just faster. Even in first class there's a just a thin curtain between the nobility and the proles - far better if there were no proles to disturb the experience.

But those lousy proles just keep on trying to earn money so they can have the good life. And businesses keep paying them. So - you need to stifle the businesses. Run them down, raise the taxes, screw up the economy,

THEY will be able to afford the perqs - but the others peasants and proles will be too busy working for survival to encroach on the perqs and priveleges of the rich.

Donna:While it seems... (Below threshold)

While it seems odd that so many rich Democrats support raising taxes, it's a good idea to remember that when they manage to do so, for some reason their own industries or fortunes fall under one or another loophole, or get support from the government in ways that more than offset their theoretical losses.

Note, for example, how Kerry moved his yacht to a nearby state to avoid paying taxes in his home state - whenever you see a big tax increase, look for rich Democrats on the move away from it.

All three of Kerry's "wound... (Below threshold)

All three of Kerry's "wounds" were trivial ...

the first was a piece of shrapnal the size of a grain of rice from his own grenade ...

the second was from enemy fire, again a tiny piece of shrpnel ...

the third was a bruise, thats right a bruise, when his boat got josstled by a mine going off under a nearby boat ... Kerry's boat sped away from the scene causing a special forces guy to fall off ...
Kerry finally came back and picked the guy up ... earning a Bronze Star for that heroic action ...

I was pretty much will to a... (Below threshold)

I was pretty much will to accept Arianna Huffington and all her warts up until the Recall of Grey Davis, she was one of the candidates running as a replacement. When it became clear that she wouldn't win, she turned on the whole process, and sided with Davis against the recall.
Frankly, this "if I can't have it nobody can' attitude was just too much for me, and she went on my "sh*t list"

There was some calculation ... (Below threshold)

There was some calculation that if they taxed all income about $1 million at a 100% rate, it would raise about $860 billion in federal revenue.
Of course, this did account for the "Law of Unintended Consequences" which of course would make that revenue number slightly larger that 0.

I think we should raise tax... (Below threshold)

I think we should raise taxes, but only on rich liberals who vote democrat with net worth of over a million bucks. Those are the folks asking for it, so they should put THEIR money where their mouths are.

It'll never happen though, since it's their mantra to pay for their feel good ideas with other peoples money.

If the Tax burdening dems w... (Below threshold)

If the Tax burdening dems want to raise taxes on the wealthy they should be made to publicly pay the IRS their share on camera for everyone to see before a bill goes to vote. And then go straight to the gallows.

A multimillionaire liberal ... (Below threshold)
Tsar Nicholas II:

A multimillionaire liberal voluntarily will pay a higher tax rate right about the same time that multimillionaire liberals will cease being stupid hypocrites; that is to say never.

"...but I'm curious as t... (Below threshold)

"...but I'm curious as to why the really rich are for more taxation and regulation when it MUST affect them to some extent. George Soros is another. WHY????"

Aside from JLawson's excellent response, it really goes even deeper than that. Notice how liberals are always talking about "shared sacrifice". They really mean it. They will not "sacrifce" unless others are forced to share in it. (Now that's not all of them, so dont' read more into this than what's intended).

I've told any number of people who are pro-higher taxes that they should go ahead and not take any deductions and pay as much as they want. The IRS won't stop them and no one else is going to either. The answer is always the same, "Why should I when no one else will?"

My brother is a liberal douch-nozzle who says taxes should be higher. When I asked him how he felt about the high taxes on his wife's inheritance (which was in the low 5 figures, but certainly was taxable because her deceased mother wasn't very tax savvy), he said they simply cheated to avoid the taxes.

Another liberal who thinks taxes are for someone else to pay.

And last year he h... (Below threshold)
Senor Cardgage:
And last year he had to amend his 2007 tax return -- he had overlooked over half a million dollars in income and assets from that year.

I think you are conflating tax returns and financial disclosure statements. Rangel's tax return amendments covered the years 1988 through 2006 and totaled about $75K in previously unreported rental income on the DR villa, amounting to an underpayment of taxes of roughly $10K.

Rangel does seem to have had more serious memory lapses on his Congressional disclosure forms, and these appear to be the true source of the outlandish figure you quote above.

My brother is a li... (Below threshold)
Senor Cardgage:
My brother is a liberal douch-nozzle who says taxes should be higher. When I asked him how he felt about the high taxes on his wife's inheritance (which was in the low 5 figures, but certainly was taxable because her deceased mother wasn't very tax savvy), he said they simply cheated to avoid the taxes.

Taxable to whom, his late MIL's estate or to him and his wife? There is no federal inheritance tax, and only a handful of states have one.

You watch Keith Olbermann! ... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

You watch Keith Olbermann! I don't even listen to him, he's a joke.

Senor, it was several years... (Below threshold)

Senor, it was several years ago and I don't remember the particulars, but they lived in New Jersey at the time and they were being taxed on money her mother left. The point was that they cheated to avoid paying the tax.

And the other unspoken point is that everyone has a different idea of how much money you have to have before you should be taxed at a higher rate - and it's always a higher amount than whatever the person who advocates the higher taxes makes.

"The point was that they... (Below threshold)

"The point was that they cheated to avoid paying the tax."

In the 'Ones' lingo that's called 'getting an appointment!'

The point was that... (Below threshold)
Senor Cardgage:
The point was that they cheated to avoid paying the tax.

Maybe he just told you that to make himself seem more interesting, or because liberal douche-nozzle brothers enjoy annoying their conservative puckered-anus sisters.

From the State of New Jersey Department of the Treasury page on Inheritance and Estate Tax:

If a decedent's death occurs on or after July 1, 1988, property passing to a decedent's surviving parents, grandparents, children, stepchildren or grandchildren is entirely exempt from the tax.
Senor Cardgage, it also pos... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

Senor Cardgage, it also possible that the liberal brother just assumed inheritance money was taxable (it is NJ after all) and intentionally avoided reporting the money. Even though the money was not taxable, and probably need never have even been reported his intention would/was never the less to conceal and cheat.

So the situation was that, in fact, he did not cheat (on this). But still he has demonstrated that his inclination/desire is to cheat on matters of taxes rather than pay "his fair share." Details are different, some unwittingly, but the point of Oyster's story remains.

So what's really your point?

Neo -"There was... (Below threshold)

Neo -

"There was some calculation that if they taxed all income about $1 million at a 100% rate, it would raise about $860 billion in federal revenue.
Of course, this did account for the "Law of Unintended Consequences" which of course would make that revenue number slightly larger that 0."

And as I've pointed out - you can shear a sheep many times, but you can only skin him once. So you CAN get more 'value' out of a sheep ONE time only. (Wool, skin, meat, haggis materials... they're all valuable. Except maybe the haggis.)

Government's been shearing the sheep a bit too close for quite a while. And they keep wondering why wool production's not what it was...

And though you might hate sheep, think they should all be skinned and rendered down - if your prosperity depends on the sheep being healthy long term, no matter HOW you feel about them you'd better treat them in a manner that KEEPS them healthy.

(I fully expect the metaphor to escape the corporation-hating, rich-hating, prosperity-hating leftists, btw.)

Of course the definition of... (Below threshold)

Of course the definition of 'rich' changes depending on who you talk to. My cousin considers me 'rich' because I happen to have a decent house and little debt. I don't live beyond my means. My cousin however, bought a house larger than he could afford and doesn't budget his money. Yet I am in his eyes 'rich' because I'm not living paycheck to paycheck.

Eventually the threshold of what income level makes you 'rich' will be lowered more and more.

Thank you for your answers.... (Below threshold)

Thank you for your answers. I do know that the Hollywood set get tax write offs that you and I don't get. For example, their health club membership or the face lift surgeries are consdered tax deductible cause it is a business expense for them to look good in their industry..so I kind of expected them to be able to duck from some typical taxes..but a man like George Soros, Warren Buffet (and I'm betting Bill Gates too)..and the ones mentioned in the article above (Huffington and Kerry), and even Snotty Pelosi, wow, I'm amazed at their attitudes. Don't we get to see Pelosi's tax returns? I'm sure her hubby files separately though.

I read that some research was done and Republicans are far more charitable than Democrats with THEIR OWN money. Democrats want to use the REST of our money for entitlements, err...charitable purposes.

Also, I just want you all to know, I follow this blog almost daily...thanks to Facebook. You're all great...well, most of you anyway (staying away from the old Lee Wards of this blog, lol).

Upset Old Guy,Mind... (Below threshold)
Senor Cardgage:

Upset Old Guy,

Mind you don't cut yourself on Mr. Occam's Razor.

Hell is getting colder. I a... (Below threshold)

Hell is getting colder. I agree with Tina S. ;)

The true wealthy never worry about taxation. The wealth is tied up in trusts, investment, etc. The tax on 250K and higher effects a lot of regular people. The true middle class and small businesses.

Why do liberals think people that make money from putting in the education time, hard work and setting goals need to pay more then their share? They are truly an envious group of people. I have an idea. Have liberals get an education and focus on a job. (for you liberals, that is a place you go to on a regular basis to utilize your skills and in return they pay you money) ww

Nothing simplier than a lib... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

Nothing simplier than a liberal believing,"Rules are for thee, and not for me."

And you still haven't told us what's got your shorts in a knot over Oyster's story.

If you're already rich, the... (Below threshold)

If you're already rich, the income tax doesn't have much impact on your life--it's just a few adjustment points on investment return.

It seems we have to have taxes--so, why not a "net worth" tax? Or, replace the income tax with a national sales tax. That might change some minds about taxation.

It's stupid--stupid--to tax production (income) anyway. It's just easy for the gummint--make employers withhold money.

Wonder what Buffett and Sor... (Below threshold)

Wonder what Buffett and Soros would say if the law were changed so that you were taxed on your "net worth" each year? And everything over 1 million was taxed at 100%

That would certainly give the liberals a lot of money to buy votes with.

GarandFan, I believe that j... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

GarandFan, I believe that just like John F(ing) Kerry's boat, all their worth is already owned and shielded by trusts. Change the laws and their lawyers will see to it that there are loophole through which they still can navigate.

We're the bottom layer in a pyramid scheme, we get to pay for everything.

I would strongly support la... (Below threshold)
Jon F:

I would strongly support larger emphasis on taxes at the point of consumption and not through income taxes. However, the debt is a serious problem and the government must provide evidence that action is being taken against the debt. Therefore adjusting the tax rate of incomes over $250,000 to the levels under Clinton and for the majority of the Reagan years are necessary to protect further tax hikes against middle-income Americans.

Upset Old Guy: You dont' g... (Below threshold)

Upset Old Guy: You dont' get it do you? Senor is calling me a liar without actually saying it in those words. The story is true. I know my brother. I've known him all his life. He was not trying to seem more important or annoy his "anus puckered" sister.

I've called him a liberal douche nozzle to his face and he's called me just as colorful names in return, but we're family and we laugh it off.

But Senor thought it was so clever to call me a name - someone he doesn't even know - because I called some one else a name - someone I've known for 50 years.

I admitted I didn't remember the particulars, it had been so long ago. Senor doesn't care about the point of the story, he wants to ignore that part and insinuate I'm lying instead.






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