So what's his argument? He doesn't like the cap of $250,000 because if you give numbers, he argues, the numbers can be challenged. I suppose he is perfectly comfortable then, by Mitt Romney or Congressional Republicans not putting numbers on their specific budget cuts. Besides, depending on where you live, $250,000 doesn't really make you wealthy, says Westen. Oh, who will think of the children of the 2-percenters, cries out this claimant of the Left's mantle:
A defining feature of the Great Recession, unlike prior recessions, is that its tentacles have reached into the upper middle class, to precisely these Americans. If you live in Dothan, Alabama and earn $250,000, you're rich. New York City? Los Angeles? Chicago? Atlanta? After you knock the first $80,000 off for taxes, pay for someone to take care of your kids if you both work, and pay for private schools if you don't live in the right part of town, you're down to about $120,000. Now pay your mortgage and your property taxes.Talk about irony. Talk about a Lefty elitist. Where oh where but on Huffington Post can you both purport to be a liberal and simultaneously claim that the federal tax dollars should be subsidizing private school tuition for your children?
Oh, and Professor, you do know that one's property value - which both their mortgage and especially their property taxes depend on - is at least in part determined by the public school district, don't you? Which generally means that if your property value is high (and thus your mortgage and property taxes are also proportionally high), you do in fact live "in the right part of town," and don't have to send your children to private schools while whining that the taxpayers won't subsidize it.
You can tell that Prof. Westen is not a professor of tax law or tax accounting. Does he realize that when the president talks about letting the Clinton rates be re-instituted for income earners over $250,000, he is actually referring to amounts over $250,000 in taxable income? That is, income after the deductions are factored in. Children, you understand, constitute deductions. And oh by the way, if both parents work in a household earning more than $250,000 in taxable income, and they have a lot of child care expenses, they can further lower the taxable amount by itemizing their child care expenses should that exceed their standard deduction for their children.
Plus, maybe Prof. Westen didn't listen to the president properly. He did, after all, have a Obama-bashing piece to crank out in a rush. Nothing happens to the taxes of people who make up to $250,000 under the President's proposal. The taxes only go up for every dollar of income over $250,000 in taxable income. And even then, if the Clinton rates are reinstituted for those people, taxes would go up by a mere 3 cents on the dollar (marginal rate to increase from current 33% to Clinton rate of 36%) for taxable income between $250,000 and $388,350, and 4.6 cents on the dollar on taxable income over $388,350 (marginal rates would reset from the current 35% to the Clinton era 39.6%). Yes, I am quite sure that New York and Los Angeles residents who make more than $250,000 after their deductions will not be destitute should their marginal rates rise by 3 to 5 cents.
Prof. Westen is right, you know. Giving numerical measures of your policy positions does let others dispute the numbers. Especially if your numbers are as crackpot as Prof. Westen's.
Prof. Westen does make one valid point, which is that people who earn $250,000 or more in income and aren't making millions, in many cases, do so by working rather than through inheritance or corporate profit. Sometimes these are small businesses people who worked hard stood up. But I hardly think that making it on one's hard work should exempt one from paying one's fair share in taxes. And for these very same reasons, these earners also understand the crucial role of investing in our nation's future, even if they have to pay a few cents more per dollar of taxable income over a quarter of a million dollars. Professionals who have reached a high income level know the importance of a high quality public education, of health care, of subsidized student loans, and of federal protections for consumers.
But don't let me make a rude interruption to the Professor's (and the whiny Left's) real beef with the president: You see, he wants the president to go after millionaires and institute 75% taxes on incomes over $10 million, to really go after the top 0.1 and 0.01% of income earners. What possible makeup of Congress (this one or the next) will do so, of course, is not a question Westen bothers to entertain. Likewise, he fails to account for the fact that the president's proposal to extend the middle class tax cuts now does not occur in a vacuum, but in the context of his strong support and push for other tax policies like the Buffett Rule to tax all income (regardless of source) over $1 million at at least a 30% rate (the capital gains rate - which most of the uber rich pay on most of their income - is 15%), reducing tax breaks for offshoring jobs, and more.
I suppose that is the benefit of being a Professional Arm Chair Activist (TM) with a prominent Huffington Post blogger status. You do not need to delve into such things as reality or facts. You need not think of how your preferred policy position gets implemented. You need only get on your high horse, throw out high-fullutent rhetoric, and throw out tantrums that some wealthy income earners may not remain so wealthy if they make the free choice of sending their children to private schools. Oh, won't you think of the children of people who make over $250,000 in taxable income and have to scrape together the pennies for private school tuition?
Give me a break. Get off your elitism, Professor Westen, and come down to planet earth. Or better yet, shove that smug elitism. While you are at it, shove your propaganda channel, the Huffington Post, too.