President Obama made $5.5 million in 2009. His $400,000 salary as president was mere walking-around money. He paid more in taxes - $1.8 million - than 90 percent of Americans earn in 10 years. More than some in a lifetime.
Now it makes sense that he wants to pay more in taxes. So let's add another $1.2 million to his taxes. Thus, $3 million off to the federal government, leaving him just - $2 million. With that, he could definitely lease a private jet -- although even that much money would make buying his own out of the question. (Plus, there's no need. He's already got one. It's called Air Force One.)
But Mr. President, you really have no idea about how the rest of America suffers from taxes. And your definition of what is "rich" is so skewed as to be nonsensical. Let's work the numbers.
Mr. Obama pledged throughout his campaign that he would not raise taxes on middle-class America by one dime, that he'd only target those absurdly rich people making $250,000 or more. And he's making good on his pledge - he refuses to negotiate with Republican lawmakers over the debt ceiling unless tax hikes are part of the plan. (Oh, and it's another plan, like health care, that we'll have to pass to find out what's in it - even top congressional reporters still have no idea.)
Right now, a couple making $250,000 pays a whopping 33 percent of that to the feds. That's right, $83,333. Just to make clear, that means that couple works two months for themselves, then a full month for the government every quarter - four months of income per year straight to the feds.
But still, after paying their taxes, they still have $166,667, nothing to scoff at. Oh wait, forgot state and local taxes. Roughly 6 percent for the state - that's $15,000. About 3 percent for county tax - $7,500. So they're down to $144,167.
That's $12,014 per month - lotta cash. But let's break that down even further. (Pay special attention to this part, Mr. P.) Let's give them a nice house - $2,500 a month for the mortgage. $9,514 left. (Don't worry, they only have the one house - can't afford a second place.) Let's give them two teenagers, so $500 for food per week. (If you have teenagers, you'll know that's no exaggeration.)
Down to $7,514. Now the nitty-gritty. Roughly $250 a month for heating fuel. Another $150 for electricity. About $125 for cable TV and Internet. Another $125 for car insurance. And a whopping $250 per month to the mobile phone company (again, teenagers!) With gas prices, let's say $100 a week in fuel for two cars.
That leaves them roughly $6,200 per month after all the bills are paid. But wait, there's more. They're self-employed, so they pay their own health care - $1,000 a month. Down to $5,200. And one of those teenagers is in college. (Don't worry; they couldn't afford an Ivy League school, just a state school.) Still, with that whopping income, they get no help from the feds or the state, so they pay $2,000 a month to the university.
That means at month's end, they've got just $3,200 left. With that, they could afford a couple weeks at the beach in the summer, maybe a trip to Florida in the winter. But they certainly can't secure their own future with investments. In fact, they'd hardly be able to afford a string of calamities - a bad roof, a busted furnace, a dead car.
Still, the president thinks these folks are rich. And he wants even more of their money. If he raised the tax rate on the highest incomes to that of President Clinton, the feds would take nearly 40 percent from these folks. That'd take another $1,389 per month from them, leaving $1,811. When that second teenager hits college, they'd have to - yes, you got it - borrow $189 per month to make ends meet. And yeah, forget buying clothes, going to movies, dinners out, etc.
Of course, they could trim back their lifestyle - halve their cable bill, take the kids' phones, maybe set that thermostat to 68 in the winter. But should they really have to? They've worked their whole lives, are in their 50s, and have finally made it - they make a quarter of a million dollars a year. Yes, says President Obama - they MUST pay more to the federal government.
So, scratch that beach house, that trip to Florida. And you can forget about these people setting up their own retirement. They'll now have to depend on the federal government giving them back some of the money they paid in taxes - $2 million over 20 years, $3 million in 30.
Mr. President, just fyi, a couple making $250,000 is not, contrary to your opinion, "rich." But shouldn't you already know that?
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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