It's hot outside. Too hot for a summer stroll or any other sort of outdoor activity. So on a recent Sunday morning, I settled in for some riveting Washington talk show action.
Aside from the usual histrionics surrounding the Shirley Sherrod race episode and the "necessary dialogues" on race that the mainstream media feel compelled to hold every other month just so they can sleep well at nights, the latest argument to follow in Washington is what to do over the expiring Bush administration tax cuts.
Specifically, in a matter of months, the tax rate cuts that President George W. Bush and the Republican-led Congress pushed through in 2001 are set to expire, returning the top bracket to its 39.6 percent rate, up from today's 35 percent. That's right, at a time when our economy is as fragile as ever, this administration is pondering tax increases. As if the race baiting by the White House weren't enough, it's now in full-throated class warfare, pitting this faceless rich no one seems to know against the poor, who seem to be on every corner in President Obama's mind.
I laughed out loud when talking heads such as Sam Donaldson of ABC News dismissively said of those who would be affected, "They don't need the money. They won't miss it." Then others cackled in unison on the various shows. Talks of "them" and "they" and, occasionally, the disdain in the pundits' voices of the "megawealthy."
Even on Fox News, commentators such as NPR's Juan Williams scoffed at the notion that somehow these tax hikes would leave any lasting harm, implying "they" make so much money, the zillionaires won't possibly miss it. Once again, in a town that excuses its gluttony by referring to every spending orgy as a "rounding error," these same ivory tower denizens attack those with wealth as if it were ill-gotten and criminal. And if tax collectors took a little more, it would represent merely a fraction (a rounding error) of their treasure.
So just who are these folks that Mr. Donaldson, Mr. Williams and others refer to as "they?" I presume these journalists turned social judges are referring to top 1 percent earners in America, particularly those making more than $250,000 as a family.
Folks, in Washington, D.C., and other major urban areas, that's a lot of money, but it's not "megawealthy." It might surprise our president that $250,000 jumps up real quickly, even for two GS-14 federal employees here in town. Would the labor unions really like to see federal workers be referred to as the uberwealthy?
It wasn't but a few months ago when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was forced to order those Democrats drafting her health care reform bill to revise the income threshold upward because some Americans might not feel Democrats were targeting the richest of the rich. Loosely translated, someone got to her and said she could inadvertently be targeting a key Democratic constituency. Bottom line, there is no line of income demarcation by which, with just one dollar more, an individual steps out of middle-class obscurity and into the pearly gates of wealth, forced now to pay his or her "fair share."
I'd wager that Mr. Donaldson and many of his colleagues fall into the richest Americans category themselves. Yet how come we never hear of Sam saying, "I'd be willing to pay more for more government"? He won't, because it undermines the value of his point and those like him if prime-time journalists start referring to themselves as part of this elite income class. There's something surly about that, and prevents them from attacking said profiteers.
If they remain silent, these tony journalists can parrot the Marxist rhetoric of Mrs. Pelosi and others when referring to "Wall Street bankers" who cashed in million-plus bonuses. Yes, those payouts do occur. But it's more the exception than the rule when identifying who benefits year in, year out from the Bush tax cuts.
At the beginning of the week, House Republican leader John A. Boehner released excerpts from Congress' nonpartisan tax analysts stating that the effects of repealing the 2001 tax relief plan would fall squarely on the shoulders of small businesses.
The point here is the mainstream politicians and media elites love to live in glass houses and throw stones at the folks in bigger glass houses, disregarding the glass while fixating on their relative size.
What apologists such as Mr. Donaldson fail to realize is that thousands of small-business owners don't pay corporate income taxes. Their businesses aren't big enough or structured that way. Instead, they earn "millions" on the books and are pushed into the highest individual tax brackets.
How will that spur investment and job creation?
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said Aug. 1 that tax hikes on the richest Americans will have a negligible negative impact on this economic recovery. If I were advising Mr. Obama, I'd fire him before some U.S. Department of Agriculture employee. This is the same Cabinet member who told a congressional panel that he was an expert on the Great Depression, yet still managed to keep us in the ditch of America's Great Recession.
It's time to stop the politics of pronouns and start putting a face on "they." It might surprise all of us that those individuals are the same ones we sit next to in church, and they don't deserve what Mr. Obama wants to give them.
• "The Armstrong Williams Show" is broadcast on Sirius/XM Power 169, 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m., weekdays.
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