By Nathan Tucker
President Obama proposed this week to raise taxes on those making over $250,000 a year, while extending the Bush-era tax cuts for a mere one year for those under that threshold. Though decrying the tactic as class warfare, elected Republicans concede that premise and merely argue that now is not the time to raise taxes on anyone. By abandoning the principle of equality before the law, however, Republicans have already lost the war.
In response to the president’s proposal, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney told an audience Tuesday: “And then for others—for job creators and small businesses—he announced a massive tax increase. So, at the very time the American people are seeing fewer jobs created than we need, the President announces he’s going to make it harder for jobs to be created. I just don’t think this President understands how our economy works.”
While perfectly valid points, even once shared by Obama in 2010, one is left to conclude that Romney’s objection is simply one of timing rather than of principle. If the economy were doing better and unemployment was steady at, say, 6 percent, one is left with the impression that Romney would share Obama’s enthusiasm for playing Robin Hood.
But the Republican objection should not be to the timing but to the premise of the argument in the first place. Progressive taxation, in which higher income is taxed more, is nothing less than legalized class warfare. In responding to the “bourgeois,” Karl Marx writes in Chapter 2 of the Communist Manifesto that “you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend.”
As a “first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of ruling class to win the battle of democracy,” Marx proposed ten measures to be adopted by every country. Number two on his list was “a heavy progressive or graduated income tax” as a means of equalizing outcomes between the classes. The goal, of course, is for the government to determine how much individual income is “enough” and to confiscate the rest in the form of taxation.
This, in turn, raises the question of how much individual income is “enough,” something that even liberals don’t agree on. Though President Obama believes $250,000 is more than enough income, former Virginia governor and current Senate candidate Tim Kaine maintains that $500,000 should be the cut off point while House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senator Charles Schumer argue that $1 million should be the limit.
Though the top 10 percent of income earners already pay 71% of all federal incomes taxes, the recent rhetoric by those on the Left only confirms the observation by Scottish economist John Ramsay McCulloch that: “The moment you abandon . . . the cardinal principle of exacting from all individuals the same proportion of their income or their property, you are at sea without rudder or compass and there is no amount of injustice or folly you may not commit…The reasons that made the step be taken in the first instance, backed as they are sure to be by agitation and clamor, will impel you forwards.”
Arbitrary confiscation of one’s property is the denial of the individual’s unalienable right to equal protection before the law. As the Declaration of Independence states, the purpose of government is to secure man’s natural and unalienable rights to life, liberty, and property. The function of the law, therefore, is to maintain universal justice by the equal “protection of all persons, all products of labor, all property, all rights, all interests.”
Government no longer serves as an initial arbitrator of man’s rights when it discriminates against some merely because the fruit of their labor produced in the exercise of those rights exceeds those of other individuals. Only a proportional tax in which all must pay the same percentage in taxes satisfies the equal protection of the law.
A progressive tax not only penalizes man’s unalienable right to the fruit of his labor, it takes from those with more to give to those with less, either directly in the form of government services and welfare programs or indirectly by reducing their tax burden. It is simply theft made legal by majority vote. But regardless of its philanthropic spirit, government cannot fulfill its obligation to protect one’s property while simultaneously plundering it.
It is long past due for Republicans to reject progressive taxation, not concede its premise.
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