In response to the McCain campaign calling Obama’s tax plan “socialist,” Sen. Obama replied (ok, technically, it wasn’t a reply (as in an answer), it was a bounces-off-me-and-sticks-to-you retort):
“Since when is selfishness a virtue?”
I don’t know Sen. Obama, maybe you should ask your running mate.
Sen. Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, have given an average of $369 per year to charities during the past decade, according to tax returns posted today to Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign Web site.
Senator Biden, the Democratic nominee for vice president, claimed $995 in charitable gifts in 2007 on the joint return with his wife. That figure is 0.3 percent of the couple’s claimed income of nearly $320,000.
The 2007 contributions were significantly higher than the couple’s gifts in previous years, which ranged from $120 to $380. (source article)
0.3% Wow. Now that’s generous. Especially for a family with no children at home that makes more than three times what my household makes.
And it was less in the previous years?!? I’ll acknowledge that the Catholic Church (which Sen. Biden doesn’t listen much to, anyways) doesn’t preach the literal tithe of 10%… but it does say quite clearly that we should be generous in supporting our parish, our diocese (so it can help poorer parishes), other Catholics, and the world at large. If you have money to spare, you really should be giving more than 10%. If you’re seriously scraping, give what you can. But 0.3%?!?
Heck, while we’re at it, Sen. Obama, you could probably give us a pretty good explanation of selfishness-as-virtue. When the Obamas released their tax returns, it was quickly noticed that they only gave about 1% of their annual income to charity in 2000-2004. They got all the way up to 5% and 6% in 2005 and 2006, when their income ballooned to over $1 million. The Obamas’ explanation? They “couldn’t afford more,” despite an annual income averaging $244,000 in 2000-2004. (see article at National Review) And with $4.2 million in 2007, they gave 5.7%, or $240,000. Gee, wow.
Oh, wait, Sen. Obama, you meant you think I should give you more money to give away and claim credit for. Strange, but I don’t call that generosity; I call that playing Robin Hood. The poor loved him, because he gave them money… which he had stolen from the rich, who overtaxed it from the poor in the first place. The problem is that our rich either earned their money or inherited it from parents who had; there is no moral excuse for taking their rightful property away from them.
As noted in a previous glut-of-quotes-because-I-don’t-feel-like-writing-tonight post, “A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money.” (G. Gordon Liddy)
Of course, conservatives are just nasty, selfish people who don’t want to pay their taxes so the poor will stay poor and they’ll be the only ones with medical care and food… or something… From the just cited article:
The Obamas got rich in 2005. Their income increased sevenfold from 2004 to 2005, mostly because of Mr. Obama’s book royalties, and stayed very high in 2006 for the same reason. In 2005, another wealthy political couple with significant book royalties was Mr. and Mrs. Cheney, who had a combined income of $8.8 million, largely due to Mrs. Cheney’s books and the couple’s investment income. Just how much did the Cheneys give to charity from their bonanza? A measly 78 percent of their income, or $6.9 million. (No, that is not a misprint.)
This last fact does not generally square with the well-cultivated liberal trope of the blackhearted Cheneys. Unless, that is, you believe that private charity is not an important value that defines one’s character, compared with government taxation and welfare spending (which Mr. Cheney generally opposes, despite the profligate ways of the Bush White House).
The Palins gave 2-3.8% of their income, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. I can’t say I’m impressed, but that’s still two to four times as much as the Obamas when they were making similar income… and the Palins have more kids to support.
Based on guesses and assumption about what Cindy McCain’s tax deductions, it looks like she gave away about $284,500 out of about $6 million, which comes to about 4.7% A little less than the Obamas, but Cindy McCain also travels and works extensively for her charitable organization, including travelling to work in orphanages in Calcutta and, more recently, going to Georgia shortly after the Russians tried to start a war there. (Michelle Obama earns a similar salary to Cindy McCain ($273k for Obama to $299 for McCain)… for sitting on a hospital board. For a hospital that suddenly got some very fat earmarks when her husband was elected to the U.S. Senate.) Oh, yeah, and Sen. McCain’s returns show that he gave away $105k out of $405,000 income, or about 26% of his income. Which would bring the McCains’ joint giving rate to about 6%… pretty much the same as the Obamas, after they started making millions and started thinking about national political aspirations.
So, in short, Sen. Obama should remember that whole “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” line. Except for the Cheneys, I’m not particularly impressed by any of these charitable giving percentages, but the Democrats come out looking particularly stingy. Good grief, if you’re making over a million, I’m thinking you could probably stand to give away a bit more than 6%.
But I don’t want the government mandating it, so I guess I’m selfish.
(no, I’m not going to release my tax returns… but my family gives away more percentage-wise than any of these people, with three small kids at home, and much less disposable income.)
Which brings us back to Sen. Obama’s tax plan. Frankly, I don’t think the progressive income tax is fair, either; how is it government’s job to tell someone they have too much money? Tie your taxes to the size of your house, how much you consume, something logical, but not your income, your success.
My pastor can feel free to tell me I need to think about giving more (something I hear in church much to rarely, to be honest)… but not the government. Besides, charitable organizations, especially religious ones, are generally much better at administering charity, both in efficiency and efficacy. Government eats up a significant chunk of the money in waste and bureaucracy, and doesn’t generally enjoy a reputation for efficacy. (“We’re from the government; we’re here to help,” is usually heard as a threat, not a promise.)
And who will pay when the taxes go up? When you tax businesses and corporations, they aren’t just going to deduct that from their profits. In the name of staying competitive, they might absorb some of the cost, but much (if not all) of the increased tax costs will be passed on to the consumer… you and me.
And that incredible windfall of $500 a year in tax reduction Obama promises on his tax calculator website for my demographic? It isn’t going to cover that increase in consumer prices. Assuming any tax reduction ever happens.
The main beneficiary of this tax plan is going to be the government… and, to do it, they’re going to rip off most of the rest of the country.
Now that’s selfish.