The rising public clamor for higher taxes on America’s wealthy has conservative ideologues increasingly uneasy. For good reason. They don’t have the numbers on their side. Or much history either.
Apologists for the awesomely affluent, in the face of this swelling tax-the-rich tide, have now begun mounting a pre-emptive strike. Taxing the rich, their new argument goes, can’t possibly offset our budget shortfalls — because, as the National Review’s Kevin Williamson pronounces, “there aren’t enough rich.”
The National Review, the right wing’s most revered publication, ran two blasts along this line last week. Williamson, the journal’s deputy managing editor, ended his piece reverting back to standard right-wing tax myths. The rich, he claims, will either “lawyer up” to avoid higher taxes or flee to lower-tax jurisdictions.
His National Review colleague, Robert VerBruggen, tried turning to actual numbers, from 2008 tax returns, to make his case that “if we can’t raise taxes on anyone who’s not rich, the income tax can’t be of much help in increasing revenue.” But the numbers, on closer inspection, don’t support that assertion.