by Max Brantley
UNFAIR: Head of Stephens Inc. says taxes discourage capital formation.
Stephens Inc. CEO Warren Stephens, owner of Stephens Media, contributes an op-ed today (new link to reflect a change in original post) in his newspapers on the dangers of an Obama presidency -- what with Obama's plan to put a bit more of a tax burden on the wealthy. (Billionaire Stephens avers that he might be among the top 1 percent in income in the U.S.)
Stephens is a McCain backer. He seems frosted that poor people don't do their share in tax payment. Why, half the people in the U.S. -- the poorest half -- earn fully 12.5 percent of the income reported in the U.S. but pay only 3 percent of the income taxes. Shocking that a progressive income tax would do such a thing. Those lucky ducks. Writes the heir to a fortune built in the days when the tax system was really progressive:
I will reluctantly accept (for now) that in our society the top wage earners will pay more (in percentage terms) in taxes, but if Senator Obama wants to raise taxes, he should say so. As The Wall Street Journal has been saying, you cannot give a tax cut to people who do not pay taxes. Senator Obama's plan is a redistribution of income from those who pay taxes to those who do not. It is nothing more than the granddaddy of all welfare plans and voters need to know it.
You gotta admire his shamelessness.
PS -- Inconvenient truth, Warren. While the rich may have been paying more dollars in taxes under Bush, it's because their share of gross income has exploded. Their tax rate has declined. Workers? In real dollars, their income has declined, making the payroll tax even harsher (Stephens writes fiction when he refers to people who don't pay taxes). Lucky ducks. Don't they know when somebody trickles on their legs they're supposed to call it rain?