Barack Obama argues that the last election gave him a mandate to raise taxes on the rich. Put another way, he is arguing that 52% of the people voted to raise taxes on 2%. Did they?
Well, they certainly did something like this in California. Let's take a look at two propositions:
- Prop 30, which propose to raise taxes on on the rich to help close the deficit (there was a token 0.25% sales tax increase for cover, but everyone knew it to be a tax on the rich).
- Prop 39, which was a broad-based income tax increase which raised taxes on most everyone (or at least on the 50% or so who pay income taxes).
So, let's look at the results:
- Raise taxes on only the very rich: PASS
- Raise taxes on everyone (including me): FAIL
The California election was a crystal clear mandate: People want more taxes as long as they are on somebody else. By targeting the richest few percent, we can get a lot of money but make sure the people taxed don't have any hope of fighting the increase, even if they vote as a block.
So I think Obama clearly has a mandate to raise taxes on not-me. The question is, do we think we have, or do we want, a government where this is possible? Where majority votes can do anything they wish to minorities?
I should hope not. I will remind you of a famous quote, from a different context, but entirely relevant:
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.*
* there seem to be many variations on this out there, you may have heard other similar versions.