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Back-assward Barry

lurch1We are all sadly familiar with the President’s unrelenting theme of railing against millionaires and billionaires who fly on jets and don’t pay their “fair share.” (A billion is, of course, a lot more than a million… in fact, it’s a thousand millions. Not even tax-dodge John Kerry, AKA Mr. Teresa Heinz, is a billionaire—maybe.)

While the issue of what exactly constitutes a “fair share” is never quite defined, in Obama-speak it seems to be this: more.

But Dear Reader has his shoe-pounding formula back-asswards. The real issue is instead what is fair for the government to take?

As you unpack that question, others fall out: why is that amount (whatever it is, other than “more”) fair to take? What is the money used for? How much value does a dollar of government spending add to the quality of life for the American people versus the people deciding for themselves how to spend their money?

The liberal response (which is not the same as an answer) is to fall back on platitudes about how government always benefits different special interest groups: the children, minorities, greenies, teachers, the troops, students, women, first responders, infrastructure types, the elderly, et al.

A superior alternative to platitudes would be some cost-benefit analysis, but analysis would likely cause the lefty case for the unending more to collapse.

A free press could help explore these issues with something called reporting. Sadly, most of our “free press” today seems to view themselves as indentured servants to help the President fulfill his failed (based on middle class jobs, green energy, crony capitalism, non-transparency, license-to-kill drones, the debt, the deficit, unemployment, Obamacare costs, gas prices, etc.) agenda.

Obama ♥ hypocrisy

Arguably the preeminent directive of modern lefty-politics is this: if your mother didn’t pre-abort you, you must receive your libotomy as scheduled. (American liberals are now prepaid under the Affordable Care Act.)

Post-libotomy, ordinary modern liberals will thus be transformed into true libutards, which is, paradoxically, a higher form of liberalism.

While libutards are not actually immune to hypocrisy, they do appear to lose all self-awareness of their hypocrisy, should it occur. Which it does.

With that as prologue, consider this from Dear Reader’s SOTU address regarding class warfare tax increases deficit reduction:

To hit the rest of our deficit reduction target, we should do what leaders in both parties have already suggested and save hundreds of billions of dollars by getting rid of tax loopholes and deductions for the well-off and the well-connected. After all, why would we choose to make deeper cuts to education and Medicare just to protect special interest tax breaks? How is that fair?

obama loves facebookNext, think of the above SOTU blurb in terms of what’s happening with Facebook (and as appearing in Business Week):

Even though Facebook (FB) reported $1.1 billion in pre-tax profits from U.S. operations in 2012, it will probably pay zero federal and state taxes—and even receive a federal tax refund of about $429 million—according to a Feb. 14 statement from Citizens for Tax Justice.

So what do we have here? A massive, lib-focused, one-hundredth of one-percenter, Obama slurping, crony capitalist “business” benefits from the very tax loopholes and insider breaks the most transparent administration ever complains bitterly about? I’m shocked, shocked!

Another of the preeminent directives of liberalism is this: do as I say and not as I do.

Liberals, your libotomies await you.

May the tax not be with George

George Lucas is not known for a a few things: making interesting films after 1983; a strong chin; for treating his employees and partners with fairness, dignity, and respect.

And it seems George has unloaded his Empire of merchandise and film to Disney for over $4 billion. Disney will only care about two parts of the Lucas Empire: Star Wars and Indiana Jones—the rest (recall Willow, Hook, and Howard the Duck… if you must) has little value.

Why now, George? Easy: in order to avoid taxageddon, it would seem.

That Lucas struck a deal in 2012 may be no accident either, advisers say. Long-term capital gains tax from the sale of assets held more than one year are taxed at a rate of 15% for investors in the 25% income tax bracket or above (Lucas’s level), and zero for investors in the 10% or 15% bracket. Those rates are set to jump to 20% and 10%, respectively in January. “He probably wanted to take advantage of the lower rate on long-term capital gain while it’s certain,” says Bill Smith, managing director at CBIZ MHM, a national accounting and professional services provider.

Of course Lucas is a dedicated Obamaphile but that doesn’t prevent him—or Obama… or anyone on the political left for that matter—from telling people to do one thing and doing another himself.

What’s Yoda’s take on George’s behavior? “The economic patriotism is weak in this one.”

And may the Schwartz be with you.

Around the internet: world news today

From Virginia, the state’s U.S. Senate candidate, Tim Kaine, a Democrat, said that he’s open to having a “minimum tax level for everyone.” Kaine went on to say he feels the minimum tax level should be an individual $2000 tax credit, a position largely consistent with President Obama and his economic advisors. Obama team insiders are said to be debating a minimum tax ranging from Kaine’s $2000 tax credit to a $10000 tax credit per household. Policy makers are also considering allowing qualifying households to opt for a Chevy Volt in lieu of the minimum tax tax credit.

On the campaign trail, the President decried the “bitter clinging” of mob violence, intolerance, mayhem, and destruction of property said to be planned by Mormons in response to the hit Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon.” Internet sources reveal the President is said to have his concerns sharpened based on Homeland Security briefings which relied upon unimpeachable Southern Poverty Law Center and The New Republic sources for their conclusions.

Appearing on Fox News, Presidential advisor David Axelrod responded to The American Spectator’s challenge to Name a single thing that has improved under his [President Obama’s] rule. Axelrod told host Shemp Smith that many things have increased under the President’s governance including gasoline prices, unemployment, food stamp usage, and the federal debt. Smith then challenged Axelrod saying, “While those are increases, almost no one views them as improvements.” Axelrod countered with, “This campaign won’t stoop to partisan politics,” and walked off the set in apparent disgust as soon as the show went to break.

In Washington, several high-level GOP senators emerged from a top secret briefing with senior Administration officials, incensed that the Obama team offered no new information while failing to answer questions regarding the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that resulted in the death of four Americans. In response, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Adm. Sandy Winnefeld told the media they felt the briefings—which in an unusual turn, had been outsourced to the Southern Poverty Law Center and The New Republic—were “accurate, timely, and well received.”

It’s now been more than 100 days since U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. began a “medical leave of absence.” Jackson’s staff has not disclosed when he may be able to resume his official duties but denied that his absence is related to alleged drug abuse. Skeptics have questioned this assessment with the revelation that Jackson has already been announced as starring in the season premier of the A&E Network’s popular reality show Intervention.

In the debates associated with the hotly contested campaign for the U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, Senator Scott Brown was said to have dismantled his foe, Elizabeth Warren. Warren surprised—and terrified—observers by showing up in a Cherokee head dress, Prada shoes and matching bag, and nothing else. For her part, a Warren campaign spokesman said Warren scored points by saying Brown “spoke with forked tongue.”

In a move disquieting to knowledgeable economists, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has decided to skip QE3, 4, and 5 and proceed directly to QE6. Bernanke said, “Tripling our money supply in six years has clearly not done the trick. I hope QE6 will.” When asked by CNBC host Larry Kudlow later that day, “Just what is the trick you’re trying to accomplish, Mr. Chairman?”, Bernanke shrugged. Bernanke soon departed the CNBC set for a fundraiser for President Obama intended to dishonor street economists Fo’pak (University of Chicago) and Notorious H.A.Y.E.K. (University of Freiburg).

Stay tuned for updates which will occur as time and conditions permit.

Economic blurb of the day

The economic blurb of the day from Ryan Streeter at Indystar.com:

…what exactly is the Obama-Buffett ideal? No one, including them, knows — or is willing to say. Should we tax millionaires at 100 percent? Even if we did, anyone with a calculator can tell you it would fund the government for less than half a year.

Just like you can’t out train a bad diet, it ain’t the taxes so much as it’s the spending.

Never Go Full Reid-tard

The question is why didn’t Dems raise taxes when they controlled Congress?

Harry “Mumbles” Reid fails to answer the question and then goes the “next question” route when that doesn’t work.

Why didn’t Dems raise taxes when they controlled Congress? ‘Cause Barry didn’t say to.

As such, Harry goes full Reid-tard. Never go full Reid-tard.

The lesson? Never go full Reid-tard on taxes.

Wanted: analysts who can analyze

The irrepressible Ezra Klein—I mean that in a derogatory way; think of an irrepressible Charles Barkley at an all-you-can-eat seafood spread—has a piece at Bloomberg (which op-ed wise, tends to be a reflection of its nanny state founder). The thesis? That raising taxes can be a political winner for Barry Oh!

…polls consistently show that increasing taxes on the wealthy is hugely popular. In the same Gallup poll, 62 percent of respondents said “upper-income people” were paying too little in taxes. In a CNN/ORC International poll, also conducted in April, 68 percent of Americans agreed that “the present tax system benefits the rich and is unfair to the ordinary working man or woman” and 72 percent said they support changing the tax code “so that people who make more than one million dollars a year will pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.”

What Klein ignores is the fundamental issue that should be driving discussions on tax rates: government spending. How big an issue is spending versus taxes? Charles Barkley big. Consider the nonsensical Buffett Rule of a few months ago:

[Obama’s] Buffett [tax] Rule would cover just 0.7% of all of Obama’s debt and .1% of Obama’s spending.

Instead the Klein focus is on protecting Obama, attempting to offer political advice to the Administration, and improve Obama’s re-election prospects while the nation continues towards a fiscal cliff based largely on one factor: the government spends way too much.

The mandate revised?

(A silver lining? Or is it a lead-based paint lining?)

If the mandate is really just a tax, is this true?

Lurking in the background is a way to decide the case on tax law grounds. No one can be prosecuted, punished or fined for violating the mandate. In fact, the word “mandate” does not appear in the law. In “practical operation,” the administration argued, it’s just a tax law.

If the mandate is really just a tax, that would be supported by the Constitution, which says Congress “shall have the power to lay and collect taxes … to provide for the common defense and general welfare.”

So, in the end, the justices could agree the law’s required tax payments are constitutional, while also making clear the government does not have broad power to mandate purchases.

If true, this would all make Obamacare turn on what in practical operation means.

Could such a tax be overturned—or reduced to the point of insignificance—by a simple Congressional majority?

And generally, don’t you have to have a transaction to have a tax (taxes on held property perhaps being the exception)? How can the government tax income, death, sales, capital gains, or dividends if there are none?

Or does Obamacare now allow the government to squeeze blood from a turnip?

Finally, in plain the language of the Beltway, is this a simple case of if it ain’t funded, it ain’t? (Sorry for all the questions.)

In practice I doubt the above arguments/questions will carry the anti-Obamacare mandate tax day. Unless intervened on by reality, the government only ratchets in one direction: more.

Calling Dr. Freud: Guilt as a Motivator?

I don’t think it’s guilt that motivates crony capitalist Warren Buffett’s call for more taxes on millionaires and billionaires. I think it’s part of Buffett’s disinformation campaign and is attached to his deal with the Administration to wring ever more cash out of the populace in the form of rent-seeking and legislative capture in exchange for serving as a useful idiot.

But I’m not so sure about author Steven King. King has also rallied to the Raise my taxes! cry and his sense of guilt, to me, is a plausible motivator for his behavior. Of course, both Buffett and King (and every other increase-my-taxes tool, including the President) fail to execute an obvious and easy solution: just write the Treasury Department a check.

While I’ve found most of King’s books tedious, formulaic claptrap, he surprised me with his work in On Writing.

The book, largely autobiographical but also intended as a how-I –got-here and here’s-how-it-works tale, tells of King’s very modest upbringing and his similar early adult life. I think it’s a very real possibility that King feels guilty about earning so much money, especially given that his much-loved mother could only barely manage to hang-on financially despite her hard work and long hours.

The conclusion King has likely drawn and internalized (maybe at some repressed level, maybe not) is that he is ill-deserving of the riches and fame that have come his way; that his paycheck is far out of line with his contributions to society. And it’s a fair assessment.

Hence his guilt, hence his Raise my taxes! cry.

Most of those who should feel the same way that King might—imposters, posers, and frauds(and I’m largely talking to you, Hollywood)—wash their feelings away with drugs, alcohol, hedonistic behavior, denial, and in a few cases, self-congratulatory behavior.

Obama’s Tax Return

The thin line between irony and hypocrisy was crossed with the release of President Obama’s 2011 tax return.

While the President bemoans low tax rates for millionaires and billionaires—such as himself—he does nothing to walk the talk, continuing to take advantage of a variety of loopholes and exemptions for those who can afford to do so. You’re shocked, shocked, right?

Obama 2012: Pay as I say, not as I pay.

As Shikha Dalmia writes at Reason,

The point is that if you won’t do voluntarily what you want to compel other people to do, your policy is unlikely to succeed. Call it the Gandhi Test. And the Buffett Rule flunked it—as will the coming liberal jihad against the Bush tax cuts.

My sincere hope is the President will claim unemployment—and pays the taxes—after the 2012 elections.

When has a liberal idea gone terminal? When Ezra Klein tries to defend that idea

Ezra KlownThe so-called Buffett rule is toast.

What’s a media man for America to do?

Try and defend the honor of the dead idea,of course. Unfortunately, ideas, no matter how bad or clearly disproven, seldom actually die; they just go into some form of hibernation.

And defending the honor is exactly what Ezra Klein (warmly known at this site as Ezra Klaun or Extra Klaun) does with this article which uses a rich liberal, David Levine, as its baseline and not as an anecdote:

It would be one thing, Levine says, if the economy had performed so much better after taxes on the rich were cut. But it didn’t. Some of the fastest economic growth of the post-war period came in the 1950s, when the top tax rate was above 80 percent. The slowest growth came in the 2000s, when the top tax rate was 35 percent.

Even Ezra knows what Levine doesn’t… kinda (emphasis added for the kinda part):

As Doug Holtz-Eakin, a conservative economist who squared off against Levine on a panel at the Tax Policy Center, argues, the post-World War II era was good for the United States. We had a kind of global monopoly that allowed us to live large and share the wealth. But that monopoly is gone, and there’s no tax regime that can bring it back.

Yes, after World War II, the United States had quite a few advantages. Our working population hadn’t been decimated (or worse), nor had our homeland. We were not only able to feed and clothe ourselves and sell to others, but we had huge, institutional, national-level advantages. However, the massive expansion of the role and reach of the U.S. government in the post-war era lessened our myriad advantages in a sad process often called reverting to the mean.

However, if we today assume a global-leveling of the ability to produce has occurred, what would help restore a national-level advantage? Taking more money from the makers and investors, running those funds through the black-box of government (reducing its value even more), in order to transfer those riches to the takers?

The wellspring of liberal ideas is shallow, sad, absurd, and surreal.

Real Men of Genius: Mister new taxes on millionaires and billionaires Man

Background: cue Real Men of Genius music soundtrack

Narrator: Bud Light presents Real Men of Genius

Singer: Real Men of Genius

Narrator: Today we salute you mister new taxes on millionaires and billionaires man.

Singer: Mister new taxes on millionaires and billionaires man.

Narrator: You named a tax rule after the guy who may be America’s worst crony capitalist, say more tax will somehow grow the economy, and managed to ignore the 30 years of growth following the Reagan tax cuts.

Singer: But I hear this polls well.

Narrator: And even though your economic ideas are limited to thoughts like Let me decide how to spread the wealth around, Trust the government do your thinking, and America sure sucked before I became President, you manage to read these profound statements with a nice shoeshine, a neat crease in your trousers, and a smile.

Singer: Well I coulda been an actor, but I wound up here.

Narrator: You stamp deficit reduction, fairness, and economic growth on all your calls for more taxes, but didja ever think that it was government who grew the deficit to begin with?

Singer: Love mother earth and father government.

Narrator: Your Treasury Secretary didn’t even pay his taxes until his confirmation hearing, you have 36 current staffers owing eight hundred thousand to the IRS, and you managed to dodge the taxes on forty-eight thousand bucks by giving it to your kids. Nice.

Singer: Do as I say.

Narrator: And the whole thing is done to try and get you re-elected. What, you don’t think cool slogans like hope-n-change, win the future, the summer of recovery, or the war on women will carry the day in the face of 12 percent unemployment, a fifteen-plus trillion dollar deficit, GDP growth of less than two percent, and five dollar a gallon gas?

Singer: I do have my doubts.

Narrator: So crack open an ice cold Bud Light and toast yourself, oh tutor of the ten-forty, because your tax initiative is more than just a few boxes short of a palate; it’s a whole palate short of a palate.

Singer: Mister new taxes on millionaires and billionaires man.

Narrator: Anheuser Busch, Saint Louis, Missouri

Warren Buffett want to pay more taxes. Not.

show me the moneyChances are you’ve heard that one of Warren Buffett’s endeavors, NetJets, is behind in its taxes by $366 million in back taxes and penalties.

If not, here’s the link.

Let me see if I have this straight: Warren Buffett thinks he needs to pay more taxes. When it comes time to pay more taxes, he doesn’t.

The lesson: watch what they do and not what they say.

Clandestine Forms of Taxation

If you think low interest rates are heaven sent, they are… for borrowers. Like the U.S. government, among others.

For savers, it isn’t so heavenly. From Ira Stoll at Reason.com:

…low interest rates mean whatever money is left in the bank is generating less interest — to be precise about it, $384.5 billion less interest in 2011 than 2008.

Now, if President Obama or Congress announced that they were going to raise taxes in a way that would take $384.5 billion a year out of American pockets, there would be a huge uproar about it. It would be the lead story on the evening news and there would be 30-second political commercials about it. With zirp, on the other hand, you might see some complaints from Ron Paul, from the Wall Street Journal editorial page, or from a few congenitally cantankerous hedge fund managers, but otherwise, the silence has been deafening.

Mr. Obama has even tried to make a virtue of it. At his press conference last week, he said, “Congress should pass my proposal to give every responsible homeowner a chance to save an average of $3,000 a year by refinancing their mortgage at historically low rates….That would make a huge difference for millions of American families.”

The Shakespearian lesson made modern:

Neither a saver nor investor be;
For savings oft loses both itself and interest to inflation,
And Buffett-style investing demands one’s very soul.

Unborn and fat poor bear brunt of GOP’s immoral plans

Robert Reich III

(If you must, read Robert Reich’s original column here.)

Although the Senate didn’t avoid Harry Reid’s nuclear option, the good citizens of the United States dodged another government shutdown bullet with a continuing resolution let the government borrow and spend until Nov. 18. But their price for signing on, Republicans say, will be dangerous, radical, and irresponsible budget cuts.

Among other items, Republicans are demanding major cuts in an anti-obesity program for government-sponsored women, children, and minorities. The appropriation bill the House passed June 16 would deny taxpayer sponsored Slim-Fast benefits to more than 700,000 fat low-income women, children, and minorities next year.

What kind of country are we living in? Do we want to create more Chris Christies?

More than 1 in 3 families with young children now live in obesity (37 percent, to be exact), according to a recent analysis of census data by Northeastern University’s Center for Large People. That’s the highest percent on record and makes it clear anti-obesity programs (and a companion program, the $45,000 Chevy Volt credit) are still must-haves for our poor.

Medicaid is also under assault. Congressional Republicans want to reduce the federal contribution to Medicaid by $771 billion over the next decade and shift more costs to states and to the people who benefit from and use Medicaid. The Republicans have actually said they think this will help control costs when it is simply a manifestation of their self-evident evil.

We’re in the worst economy since one great Democrat led us through the first Great Depression – fat lower-income families and kids are bearing the worst of it – and we’re debating whether to cut programs that people desperately need to lose weight. Without weight-loss programs, to include related efforts like government sponsored cable, satellite television, and high-speed internet, how will the poor be properly indoctrinated? Without government provided cell-service, how will the poor be able to form a proper flash mob for rescheduled weight-loss meetings?

Many federal programs designed to take from the rich are in the so-called “nondefense discretionary” category of the federal budget. The “super committee” charged with coming up with $1.5 trillion of cuts will almost certainly take a big whack at this category. Like entitlements, these programs depend on continued government borrowing to make ends meet.

Drastic cuts already are under way at the state and local levels. When the fiscal year began on 1 October, states no longer received about $150 billion in federal stimulus money – money that is needed to keep the unemployment rate less than 8 percent and to fill every gap in every state’s budgets over the last 11 years. How stupid are these elected officials? Have they never heard of borrowing more? And aren’t there still checks in the checkbook?

So far this year, 23 states have reduced education spending to 150% of the next closest industrialized nation. According to a survey of city finance officers released last month by the National League of Cities, half of all American cities face cuts in state aid for education. Meanwhile, Republicans have the gall to ask if increased spending from our so-called academic-industrial complex is making our children any smarter.

As housing values plummet, local property-tax receipts are down. That means even less money for schools. So kids are getting larger class sizes, reduced school hours, shorter school weeks, and cuts in prekindergarten programs. Texas, for example, has shamefully eliminated prebirth education for 100,000 fetuses.

Local family services are being cut or terminated. Tens of thousands of high-value social workers have been laid off. Cities and counties are reducing or eliminating their contributions to Fat Stop, which provides early childhood obesity education to the children of low-income parents.

All this would be bad enough if the economy were functioning normally. For these cuts to happen now is morally indefensible. The only moral position is more of what we’ve been doing: take from the future to fund the present.

The wealthiest members of our society are richer than ever, taking home the biggest slice of total income and wealth since records were first kept in 1066 and are paying the lowest tax rates in three millennia.

The president’s modest proposals to raise taxes on the rich don’t come close to paying for what the 50 percent of Americans who pay no taxes want.

Marginal tax rates should be raised at the top, and more tax brackets should be added for incomes over $500,000, over $1.5 million, over $5 million. The capital-gains tax should be as high as that on ordinary income. Why? Because, that’s why.

Wealth over $7.2 million should be subject to a 2 percent surtax. Why $7.2 million and why 2 percent? Because Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott said so, that’s why.

A tiny tax of one-half of 1 percent on financial transactions would generate an additional $200 billion a year and would hardly disturb Wall Street’s casino at all. (The European Commission is about to unveil such a tax there, so we know it’s a good idea.)

All this can be done, but only if Americans understand what’s really at stake here. More taxes for those who pay taxes, continued benefits for those who pay no taxes, to be followed at some point be a catastrophic economic fail.

When Republicans recently charged the president with promoting “class warfare,” he answered it was “far more important than that.” So it’s more than math; it’s a matter of class warfare plus.

Republicans have posed the deepest moral question of any society: whether someone else should pay for someone else’s desires. President Obama should proclaim, loudly and clearly, that they will.

The Redistribution Contract

(if you must, read the original here)

By PAUL RUGMANN

This week President Obama offered the obvious: that the 47 percent of Americans who pay no federal taxes, should not bear any responsibility in reducing the long-run budget deficit. Republicans like Representative Paul Ryan responded with shrieks of “class warfare” and this shrieking is getting tiresome.

Because Obama is rubber and Ryan is glue, what Ryan says bounces off Obama and is simply untrue. In fact, it’s people like Mr. Ryan, who want to exempt the very rich (“his people,” as AG Eric Holder might say) from deficit reduction. The reality is the rich should pay more — their fair share — and make our finances sustainable.

Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office show that between 1979 and 2005 the inflation-adjusted income of families in the middle of the income distribution rose 21 percent. That’s growth, but it’s slow, especially compared with the 100 percent rise in median income over a generation after World War II. The first lesson: class warfare corresponds with the end of the disco era.

And because it may not support my case, I’ll ignore the incomes of the very rich (the top 100th of 1 percent of the income distribution) in the generation after World War II and the effect of the confiscatory (87 percent in 1954) federal income taxes. I’ll also ignore the income growth of the poor because I’m not interested in class warfare, but only in the very rich, that .01 percent of all Americans.

Instead, my point is between 1979 and 2005, the income of the very rich rose by 480 percent. No, that isn’t a miss print. In 2005 dollars, the average annual income of that group rose from $4.2 million to $24.3 million. Another lesson: that’s more than any human being should be allowed to earn without a deep wallet cleaning by the taxman. As George Harrison advocated, there’s one for you, nineteen for me.

Still another lesson: because these very rich earn more, it’s obvious that Republicans are waging class warfare.

The CBO’s numbers show the federal tax burden has fallen for all income classes but because I’m only interested in the federal tax burden, I’ll ignore other taxes: property, vehicle, state and local income taxes, sales taxes, taxes on capital gains and dividends, estate (so-called “death” taxes), and the large litany of other consumptive taxes (tobacco, alcohol, telecommunications, “luxury” taxes, etc.). I’ll also ignore the taxes paid by businesses like payroll taxes and corporate taxes.

But what does it mean? That a very rich man like Warren Buffett can use all of the wealth he’s accumulated to buy lawyers, lobbyists, and love, and can “get by” with paying himself a $100,000 salary because he’s put almost all his wealth into a tax-avoiding trust. One final lesson: this cheats Uncle Sam. Now, I know the Bush-led right will respond with misleading statistics and fraudulent moral claims about whose money it is in the first place.

On one side, taxes paid by the rich are rising, but this is because they’re richer than they used to be. When middle-class incomes grow barely 20 percent while the incomes of the .01 percent rise by a factor of six, how could their tax share of the rich not go up? In other words, they’re paying more, but so what?

On the other side, we have the dubious assertion that the rich have the right to keep their money, an assertion which entirely misses my major point: I don’t think that’s right. How much income and wealth should the government allow each very rich person to keep? I’m not sure, but it’s less than it is now.

Elizabeth Warren, who is running for Scott Brown’s U.S. Senate seat that used to be Ted Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat, recently made some eloquent remarks that are, on the left, getting a lot of attention. “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody,” she declared, pointing out that the rich can only get rich thanks to the government letting them keep some of the income and wealth they’ve earned.

Which brings us back to those shrieks of “class warfare.”

Republicans claim to be deeply worried by budget deficits. Indeed, Mr. Ryan has called the deficit an “existential threat” to America. Yet they are insisting that the wealthy — who presumably have a stake in the nation’s future — should not be called upon to play a greater role than they already are in warding off that existential threat.

Well, that amounts to a demand that a small number of very lucky people (skills, ability, and hard work don’t make any difference) be less affected by a government redistribution scheme that has a greater effect on everyone else. And that, in case you’re wondering, is what real class warfare looks like.