Warren Buffett, the successful and iconic investor who has made billions, continues to promote the idea that the wealthiest Americans should pay more in taxes. That jibes with President Obama's call for the same thing, amid ongoing negotiations with Republicans over the federal government's budget problems.
The media, largely liberal, plays up Buffett's comments. That in and of itself is interesting. Why does Warren Buffett's opinion count for more than any other person's? And if Buffett wants to pay more in taxes, what's stopping him from writing a check to the Treasury?
In any case, part of the argument behind forcing the top 2 percent of income-earners to pay more is that they did so when Bill Clinton was president during the go-go 1990s Internet boom. The nation did just fine then, right? So what's the big deal about higher taxes on the wealthy now?
Well, there is a difference, and it starts with the Internet boom, which began a revolution in the way Americans work and spend leisure time. The Internet boom boosted productivity and economic growth; growth that would have been even higher without the Clinton-era tax policies. In other words, those higher taxes did have an effect, one that was masked by steady growth. Secondly, if the argument is that we should return to Clinton-era tax policy, then shouldn't we also return to Clinton-era spending? Federal spending was 18 percent of the economy in the 1990s. Today it is an out-of-control 24 percent.
If Democrats are ready to propose a return to Clinton-era taxation and spending, Republicans should take the deal. But we don't hear that proposal coming from Obama or Democrats in Congress. This is because they are too happy to tax and spend, without ever saying how much of both is enough. That, of course, is the issue that will someday cripple the Democratic Party, and probably the nation.