Our country can’t afford to tax the rich

Shane Finneran

Admittedly, the USA needs money to help pay for vital American programs such as Medicare and foreign occupations. But the push by some Democrats to let tax cuts expire for America’s highest earners is too much audacity, not enough austerity.

For starters, higher taxes could inhibit economic growth. Think of Bill Gates, who founded Microsoft in the mid-1970’s, when he was barely 20 years old. If taxes had been higher back then, Gates might have decided that starting the company wasn’t worth it and headed to the disco instead of the computer lab — meaning consumers would never have enjoyed high-quality products like Windows Vista and the ZUNE.

Also consider people who are rich by birth, such as Paris Hilton. What if her family had been forced to pay higher taxes over the years? Sure, the Hiltons would still have hundreds of millions of dollars. But would a slightly poorer Paris have managed to become such a widely respected entertainer and purveyor of fine perfumes and colognes? We can’t know for sure — and we can’t take that kind of risk.

President Barack Obama and his wife jointly reported income of more than $5 million in 2009, landing them in the top federal tax bracket, where the rate would rocket from 35 percent to 39.6. Perhaps Obama can afford to pay 4.6 percent more — but that doesn’t mean other rich folks can, too. Obama flies free on Air Force One, for instance, while other rich Americans must buy their own private planes. And with Far East Movement all over the radio, Gulfstreams ain’t getting any cheaper.

In fact, most of our country’s top earners are corporate officers such as CEOs — and even the AFL/CIO admits that income for the average large-corporation CEO plummeted to $9.25 million in 2009, a drop of nearly 10 percent from the previous year.

What kind of country would kick its millionaires and billionaires when they’re already down?