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December 2nd, 2012
07:20 AM ET

Letters to the President #1413: 'Rich and Richer'

Reporter's Note: President Obama is hard on the trail of the wealthiest Americans, intent on tapping their wallets for a bit more in taxes…but who exactly is rich?

Dear Mr. President,

I noticed that you were out in the country meeting with people and making your pitch about this idea of taxing the rich a good bit more. I’m not entirely sure why since the polls suggest most people are on board with that idea anyway, but it’s your schedule so good luck with that…

I do have a question, however: Do you think you’ll have to find some other way to define rich?

The question occurs to me because you current definition is a might broad. Here is what I mean: You seem to be calling anyone who makes more than $250-thousand as a couple “rich.” So yes, Warren Buffet is rich. He is one of the wealthiest human beings on the planet, and he shows up on lists of billionaires all the time. He could win the Powerball lottery and not even notice the change in his bank account. That is rich. Really rich.

But under your definition, here are some more rich people: Dave and Susan live in a modest house outside of New York which, because of the cost of real estate is valued at a million dollars. They have both worked hard all their lives to reach a point in their 50’s at which they each make about $150-thousand dollars. They are putting two children through college and trying to save for retirement. They would like to take a vacation now and then, but it is always somewhat limited because they take their financial responsibilities seriously. They are, by your terms, rich too. But they are in no way, shape, or form anything like Warren Buffet, and I suspect many of them, especially near large cities where the cost of living can be terribly high, don’t find your idea of “fair” to be so.

A mouse is a mammal, and so is an elephant, but you can hardly suggest they are the same thing.

Anyway, I’m not telling you how to handle this. Perish the thought. Were the country in my hand for twenty minutes I’m sure calamity would follow. Still, it might help if you made it a bit clearer that you are aware of…and prepared to deal with the details…of the very different differences between the rich and the really rich among us.

Call if you can. My Saints are pretty much out of the playoffs, so I’m available to chat.


soundoff (One Response)
  1. John

    My goodness what will this person do. Net salary of the two is $300,000 and after deductions will very likely be under the $250,000 threshold and won't see any tax increase. And if they do it will be on just the amount over $250,000. So lets say $20,000 is now taxed at a higher marginal rate of an added 5 percent-that is $1000. The first $250,000 will keep the same tax rates. In fact, this would be a return to the fast economic times of the 90s. So really all this extreme posturing and problems over $1000? Really you are going to stop employing more people and the economy will collapse because of this? Your life depends on this? You think a better alternative is to slash entitlements like Social Security and Medicare that millions actually DEPEND on and have been paying in to for decades? So okay lets drop the word rich as I don't think any class of people should be beat up on based on how hard they have worked in life and if they make a large amount of money. And the tax code does not tax on verbs, but numbers. Everyone is taxed the same marginal rates on a certain amount of income and those rates go up as income does. I make $75,000 and you make $150,000, but we both pay the same amount of tax on the first $75,000. If I start making more I will pay the same marginal tax rate you do. What you don't think I would be happy making thousands more and paying 25 percent on each dollar, instead of 15 percent? Would I prefer a lower rate, of course, but I could handle making more and paying more. And if it is such an issue for me that I just could not handle this I won't make more. Rich, poor, or middle class, the words don't matter, tax rates are based on income and for ALL of us as our income goes up we pay more on each dollar. It is not like you are called rich and all of a sudden pay a higher rate on all of your income-if you did that would be unfair. So you are not rich and should not be penalized if someone thinks this is the word describes you. You fit into the tax code based on a number like everyone else. If your marginal income after deductions exceeds $250,000 as a married couple you will pay a higher percent on that amount only over $250,000. Not double, not everything, but about 4-6 percent more on that amount than before and the same as about 15 years ago. Get over it.

    December 2, 2012 at 8:25 am |