I have to say this whole business of powerful figures being chastened to pay back taxes prior to their cabinet confirmations – $34,ooo from treasury secretary Tim Geithner, now $100k from former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle – is more than a little off-putting.
After all, these men are from the same party earnestly abjuring us that the wealthy must pay more to pay their fair share (even though the top 5% already pay 60% of the total income tax burden).
These men are wealthy, but apparently because they were politically connected they couldn’t be bothered to pay their own fair share. No fair crying, “I didn’t know,” because I very much doubt that either Geithner or Daschle are using TurboTax.
The same ones who want to tax us stiffed us, at least until it stood in the way of their political ambitions. Then it’s all, “How much do I owe?” and, “Very sorry, don’t know how that could have happened,” and then, “Never to fret, off you go.”
The whole thing makes a mockery of the Republic’s social contract. It speaks of a permanent, privileged political class that feels entitled to raid our piggy banks while jealously guarding their own. For our own benefit!
Oh, someone is going to come by – you know who you are – and tell us that the very wealthy did very well indeed in 2006 on capital gains, which are subject to a lower tax rate than regular income. As though the moneys forming the initial investments weren’t taxed on the way in. As though perverting the free exchange of goods and services by the tax code makes good policy.
If you take every dollar of the average $263 million dollars earned last year by the 400 richest families, and distributed it evenly to each of the 300 million Americans, you’d all be nearly $351 the richer. Except for those 400 families, who’d be out $262,000,649.
Don’t blow it all in one spot.
Off you go.
Update: Tigerhawk has a point of view on all this -
First, there is no theory that his wife insisted that Daschle be chauffered around. Second, there is no ambiguity in the law, or no theory that he did not know that he owed the money. It is obviously an in-kind payment for services. Of course he knew he owed the taxes. Finally, there is no tedious extra bureaucratic obstacle to paying this tax. You just drop a number right on to the 1040. You know, that document that you signed under penalty of perjury.
Like any of that matters.