- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Resolved: No American citizen shall be required to pay federal income taxes at a rate higher than the country’s millionaire president pays.

Let’s call it the Alternative Maximum Fairness Tax: Calculate your current tax rate, compare it to the president’s and pay the lower of the two.

The White House admitted in a Friday afternoon news dump, of course that President Obama paid only an 18.4 percent effective federal income tax rate on his adjusted gross income last year of $608,611. The highest income-tax rate last year was 35 percent (and has now increased to 39.6 percent, thanks to the fiscal cliff tax hike). Once again, the president piously demanded that “the wealthiest Americans should pay their fair share” and yet, in the very same paragraph, the multimillionaire president admitted to paying less than half the standard rate for his income bracket.

If that weren’t enough hypocrisy, Mr. Obama once again called for the so-called “Buffett Rule” of raising taxes on high earners at the same time that he admitted to breaking the rule by paying lower taxes than Warren Buffett’s secretary. This president then had the audacity to claim that he believes in “protecting families making under $250,000 from seeing their taxes go up.” I suppose the operative word there is “seeing.” President Obama is clearly fine with hiking your taxes so long as you don’t see it happen. That’s why he cleverly hid 20 separate tax hikes on families making under $250,000 inside Obamacare.

To add insult to dishonesty, Mr. Obama’s 18 percent tax rate is almost half the standard rate that one of those families earning just under $250,000 faces, which is 33 percent. Is the president aware that his teleprompter has been running around saying that in order for all Americans to have a fair shot, it’s imperative that “everyone plays by the same set of rules”?

Mr. Obama’s teleprompter evidently has gone rogue. It made another audacious statement at its 2012 State of Union Address: “It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom.” Fine. Let’s force the president to live up to that ideal or at least expose the Democrats as the hypocrites they are. Here’s how:

Whenever Mr. Obama and the Democrats attempt to burden current or future Americans with higher taxes or higher debt, Republicans should add the Alternative Maximum Fairness Tax amendment to it. Fiscal cliff. Debt ceiling. You name it. Add the amendment that says no American citizen shall be required to pay a federal income tax rate higher than the president’s and dare the Democrats to oppose it. Force them to defend the indefensible.

Democrats claim that the rich should pay their “fair share.” OK. Let’s flesh out exactly what really is fair. Is it fair that General Electric paid zero federal taxes on $14 billion income in the same year its CEO served as a close adviser to the president? Is it fair that crony companies like AIG and Solyndra received hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money as their executives kicked hundreds of thousands of dollars back to Mr. Obama’s campaign? Is that fair?

Is it fair that a president whose income is well into the top 1 percent of earners he derides pays a lower tax rate than the families he promised to protect from higher taxes right before he raised them? Then what is fair? Assuring Americans that they will never be forced to pay a higher income-tax rate than their multimillionaire president. That’s fair. That is undeniably fair.

Of course, if fairness is what we seek, then there is a much better way to achieve it.

A flat income tax is fair. If someone earns 10 times what you earn, he pays 10 times the taxes you pay. That’s fair. If someone earns half what you earn, he pays half the taxes you pay. What’s not fair about that? Further, eliminate loopholes that the government uses to bend your behavior to their liking and that the wealthy exploit to avoid paying higher taxes, and the system would become fairer still.

The president and the Democrats are enormously vulnerable on matters of fairness because of their flagrant hypocrisy. Their government-centered society itself corporate welfare, bank bailouts, Obamacare, etc. is inherently unfair precisely because it chooses winners and losers, or more accurately, friends and enemies. It unavoidably creates separate sets of rules for separate groups of Americans. If the current Republicans cannot expose the fundamental unfairness of Barack Obama and stop it, then let’s replace them with champions of liberty and fairness who can.

Dr. Milton R. Wolf is a radiologist and a contributor to The Washington Times.

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