Mr. Obama, by contrast, started out much more directly, suggesting that if you make $150,000 or less you may be poor or middle class. A family with an income above $250,000, he went on to say, is "doing well." And if you find yourself in that category, he's going to target you for a tax hike -- all in the name of creating "a sense of balance, and fairness in our tax code."
In fact, the idea of fairness is at the heart of his whole economic argument. And he goes back to it in almost every public appearance.
He talks about it as a general theme: "It is time for folks like me who make more than $250,000 to pay our fair share."
He invokes it as a solution for Social Security: "[W]e will save Social Security for future generations by asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share."
He points to how it guides his energy policy: "The first part of my plan is to tax the windfall profits of oil companies and use some of that money to help you pay the rising price of gas."
And he stuck to it on capital gains, even after ABC's Charlie Gibson noted that the record shows increased taxes on capital gains -- which would affect 100 million Americans -- would likely lead to a decrease in government revenues: "Well, Charlie, what I've said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness."
Translated into ordinary English, what that means is that it doesn't really matter whether a tax increase actually brings in more revenue. It's not about robbing from the rich to give to the poor. Robbing from the rich will do, especially if it's done in the name of fairness.
Now there are good reasons Mr. Obama is not likely to pursue the revenue side of the fairness question. As this newspaper noted in a recent editorial, the latest data from the Internal Revenue Service does not show to Mr. Obama's advantage. As we come to the end of the Bush administration, the top 1% of American taxpayers already pay 40% of all income taxes -- the highest level in 40 years. The top 10% of income earners pay 71% of the taxes.
Mr. Warren, a man of the cloth, has done us a great service by asking the candidates to answer a pretty secular question: What kind of income makes an American "rich"? Maybe in the more secular setting of an upcoming debate, one of our nonpastor moderators could ask the candidates the moral question: What specific rate of individual taxation would it take for the rich to be paying their fair share?
WOW. i love it.