From Warren Buffett’s demand that he himself pay more in taxes (seriously, is anything stopping him?) to Hollywood’s adoration for both President Barack Obama and California Gov. Jerry Brown, the phenomenon seems to defy explanation. Someone of means and celebrity, common sense would indicate, would break away from the pack and admit he or she doesn’t want to pay higher taxes.
Susan Estrich isn’t just any Hollywood liberal. She’s a bicoastal super-lawyer, the manager of Michael Dukakis’ 1988 campaign, a political columnist and a frequent television pundit.
And she’s calling on Obama to rethink his plan to soak to rich.
“I did not vote for Obama because I think I am paying too little in taxes,” she writes. “Like many people I know, I am ‘rich’ by Obama’s standards. I pay more taxes, percentage wise, than Mitt Romney and Warren Buffett, because I earn virtually every penny of my income.”
Like both candidates in the presidential race, she says she wants to close “loopholes.” But the devil is in the details, she says, and the details are looking pretty discouraging for the middle class.
The fact is no one wants to pay higher taxes (if Mr. Buffett truly did, he wouldn’t write off all of that charity giving he does, for example). If Susan Estrich’s column is a warning shot, Obama’s proposed — make that demanded — tax hikes on the “wealthy” will face resistance, even from the left.
“Obama needs to be very careful,” she warns. “Yes, he was re-elected. But so were all those folks who blocked the extension of the Bush tax cuts if they excluded individuals and small businesses who make enough money to qualify as rich — but not enough to send their kids to college, or help their aging parents, or buy a home in a decent neighborhood. We need to avoid going over the fiscal cliff. But Obama must also avoid the political cliff.”
Of course, the reality of the situation is that some combination of revenue increases — and that means rate increases — and spending cuts will be required.
But she’s right; there’s little stomach, even on the left, for big tax hikes.