Class Warfare the Last Refuge of a Failed Presidency

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, a Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its influence on Western Civilization. His most recent book, Democracy's Dangers and Discontents (Hoover Institution Press), is now available for purchase.


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Yet this is just the beginning of Obama’s economic ignorance and mendacity.  Increasing the capital gains tax rate, as the Buffet Rule perforce does, and letting the Bush tax cuts expire would target small businesses and lessen the investment capital needed to grow the economy and create jobs, at the same time it would fail at increasing tax revenues, which historically have increased when tax rates are lowered. Consider what happened after Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts. In 1981, the top 1% paid 17.58% of all federal income taxes; in 2005, this same cohort paid 39.38%. In 1981 the top 1% paid $94.84 billion (in 2005 dollars); in 2005 they paid $368.13, an increase of 288%. During this same period, taxes paid by the bottom 75% went from 27.71% of all tax revenues to 14.01%. More recently, the Bush tax cuts resulted in a 44% increase in revenues from 2003-2008. “The only conclusion,” Arthur Laffer concluded in 2008, “one can come to is that by raising statutory tax rates on the rich as proposed by the Democrats, the effective individual income tax rate won’t change, but the comprehensive household income earned by this group will fall, thus resulting in a sharp decline in tax receipts from the very highest income earners. If you want to get more tax revenues from the rich, you’ve got to make the rich richer, and to make the rich richer, you’ve got to lower tax rates.”

All this class-warfare rhetoric has nothing to do with fixing our economic problems by reducing the deficit, curbing government spending, and growing the economy. Nor is the issue “fairness.” By any metric, the U.S. already has a fair tax system, given that the top 10% pay 70% of all federal income taxes, while nearly half pay nothing. Indeed, the U.S. has the most progressive tax system among 24 OECD economies, as measured by the ratio of share of taxes paid to share of income among top earners. For example, the top 1% of earners paid more than 38% of all federal income taxes, but they earned 20% of all income. As a result of this burden on the highest earners, the top 10% of U.S. earners pay 35% more income taxes than does the same cohort in progressive heartthrob Sweden, and 22% more than in France.

This rhetoric of “fair-share,” then, is really about Obama’s reelection and his leftist ideology. The President has calculated that he can win votes with faux-populist attacks on “fat-cats” and thus obscure his tax-and-spend agenda whose ultimate aim is to increase the power of the government. In that way he can benefit his base and create ever more clients beholden to the feds. That’s what all this talk about “fairness” really means: redistributing income, always the way the enemies of freedom have gained power. As history shows, when democracies start to devolve into tyranny, unscrupulous leaders arise to foment class hatred by pandering to those who, as the Greek historian Polybius wrote, are “habituated to feed at the expense of others, and to have [their] hopes of a livelihood in the property of [their] neighbors.” That is what the “Buffet Rule” is all about: creating the “soft despotism” Tocqueville warned about.

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  • Dispozadaburka

    Think of the consequences of promising money that we no longer have.

  • John C. Davidson

    The Democrat are desparate to retain power in order to cover the theft of more than a trillion dollars under the false pretense it was stimulating the economy.

    We now are witnessing their agents coming out to distract our attention from that very revelation. Anita Dunn, Van Jones openly while Stern & Trumks are staying in the background, but their cronies fill the streets all over America carrying Commie signs and passing out cash.to every radical they can muster up.

  • Spider

    The recoveries from both the Great Depression and the Great Recession were both presided over by extremely liberal democrats – both with the same results. It is proven fact that Rosevelts economic policies extended the effects of the depression by more that 10 years and Obama has extended the recession by 4 years (so far). In both cases the use of government intervention and crackpot leftist economic policies was the problem not the solution.

    • Jim_C

      Bread lines and riots are more your speed, Spider?

      • Spider

        We will very soon have riots and bread lines when the government runs out of money just like Greece.

  • StephenD

    We could change politics in America with one simple rule. If you don't pay into the system – for whatever reason – you have no say on how the money is spent. If those that don't pay taxes are not allowed to vote, every single person in politics would change their focus. Immediately they would pay attention to those that can put them in office or take them out, which would be those paying the tab. In half a heartbeat, they would all suddenly be careful with how they spend our money. Their focus would no longer be on “redistributing” someone else’s money but on wisely using what they have…WISELY using what they have. America could be back on top in less time it takes to the IRS to process the taxes.

  • SassyFrasse

    RE: "in Boca Raton Florida Obama was at it again, beating the drum of tax “fairness”"

    ……….it is appropriate that "Boca Raton" loosely translated means, Mouth of the RAT!

    • Amused

      " raton " spoken with the "r " as a rolling r , means MOUSE . What the hell have you got against Boca Raton ?

      • SassyFrasse

        Replying to Amused

        ……….If there's ever a price on your head, take it.

  • Lrnglbrt

    Democrats have all degenerated into bottom-feeding parasites.

    • Jim_C

      I thought they wanted to tax the top .1%?

      That's "top-feeding."

  • Jay

    Make this a NOVEMBER to REMEMBER!

  • BLJ

    Obama is the lowest of the low. Why should anything he says or does surprise anyone? He is an empty suit and a real enemy to the United States of America.

  • maria

    Obama lies as it is main weapon for socialists and Muslims. He is both of it. First lady in one of the latest interview responded to journalist question about Obama low rate " God bless, Media is on our side." Media controlled by Leftists (90%) is one of the serious problem. Second one is using race card and mob mass violation.
    Obama's cousin in Kenia was defeated by another candidate for President. Obama adviced him to make a riot and cousin followed his advice starting civil war. The new Kenia President to stop civil war invited him to share presidency in Kenia. BHO and his accomplices prepare the same scenario using first of all Black panthers, Al Sharpton and Jeccy Jackson mobs. That is why they play racial card with G. Zimmerman (poor guy). The criminality rate in Chicago is up by 60 % and it is BHO administration work result. He must be stopped
    till it's too late.

  • Ronald Johnston

    What do you expect out of a terrorist illegal alien cokehead homosexual!!!!

  • jerry

    Why should anyone be surprised that Obama has created this class warefare agenda? Mearly look at his history as a child, student, and community activist. In each instance, his entire life has been suported by the State. From welfare as a child, to affermative action as a student and finally a black socialist who wishes to reduce America to a nation wholely dependent on government largess. One would have to really look very hard to find those miniscule percentage of successful blacks who are not socialists. Democrats have exploited blacks for the last 75 years. It's interesting that our black citizens forget about Dixicrats who did everything to stop the lawful intergration of southern schools. Men like Sen. Robert Byrd, lauded by democrats as a leader, was the KKK's grand master, The democratic governor of Alabama declared that his schools would never admit a n—er. The democratic governors of two other southern states vowed never to give into demands to intergrate their schools. President Lyndon Johnson, a democrat, was an avowed racists all his years in congress. Robert Kennedy, as Attorney General, and a democrat, bugged the Rev. MLK's phones to determine if the Rev. was an anarchist and rabble rouser.

  • Fed up

    Obama is bad, for sure, but Americans have become so utterly stupid that they'll likely elect the creep all over again.
    As for the campaign, Obama will be on the attack, as he is now, and Romney will do nothing better than to bleat like a little lamb in response. There isn't anybody else. The best candidates, the ones who'd wipe the floor with Obama, are anathema to the idiot Repubs and moronic Americans alike. Almost everybody I know will vote for Obama, friends, the rabbi and 95% of the members in my congregation, my neighborhood, my town, the whole stupid lot of them. It's crazy, like a bad dream.

    • jerry

      The Govenors were, George Wallace, Lester Maddox

  • johnnywoods

    Obummer is the dumbest person ever to sit in the Oval Office (except when he is campaigning or golfing),and his ignorant statements show that he has no idea of how this nation works, busyness-wise or in medicine, or anything else that made us a great nation. Even worse is that there are so many "doofuses" who will vote to keep him there. How very sad.

  • Amused

    Personally , I'm definitely gonna vote for the village idiot , that you guys put up – Romney . In fact I'll vote for ANY REPOCON/TEABAGGER the right has to offer . Why ? Because for all your vitriol, animus, and rancor over the past 3 1/2 years , ya'll STILL don't have a plan , STILL no solution , and I wanna see what you fools do with your 4 years . Dont forget , you had 8 yrs of GW , and he trashed the country with Debt , two wars and an economic recession .We were no better off before or after Bush . So lets see what you got . And yes , I'll be here to rub your noses in it . So count on me CHUMPS ….Ra ! Ra! GO ROMNEY !!!

    • http://shops.cafepress.com/greatbigshopofhorrors MSMediacritic

      Errr ummm… ok… where's the democrat plan? obama's budget was voted down unanimously (including by democrats). The Senate hasn't passed a budget since obama's been in office.

      Where's the leftard plan? Is it a secret? You can tell us….

  • Onar Kahlid

    There is one sure fire way to please blacks and stop the crime against whites that no one reports. Give every black 1 million dollars, in cash only. I guarantee that within 1 month (really 2 weeks), all problems associated with racist, nasty people of all colors will be finished. These animals (the haters) will destroy themselves. If drugs overdoses do not kill em them murder from robbing each other will. Enough said. We write about a terrible period in history and then get on with the American Dream again. Lessons learned, borders closed.

  • BS77

    Yes, it's class warfare…..the struggle between those who have class (restraint, thoughtfulness, discretion, sophistication etc) and those who do not..

  • Danny Liu
  • Justin Case

    It is a class war. NO doubt about it. But it's been going on for quite sometime. Now it's out in the open. Most of the population has been sleeping. If this country votes in Mitt it will economically destroy the majority of the people in the US. Talking out of two sides of their mouths, the GOP has said we are for the rich and the elite (oneside of the mouth). The other side has said the American public is dumb enough to vote us in if we muddy
    up the water a little. For what faces Americans Mr. Obama is the lesser of two evils.