Obama claiming that he wants to tax "the wealthiest Americans" is a lie and an emotional distraction for propaganda purposes.-- Thomas Sowell
The Invincible Lie
By Thomas Sowell
Anyone who wants to study the tricks of propaganda
rhetoric has a rich source of examples in the statements of President
Barack Obama. On Monday, July 9th, for example, he said that Republicans
"believe that prosperity comes from the top down, so that if we spend
trillions more on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, that that will
somehow unleash jobs and economic growth."
Let us begin with
the word "spend." Is the government "spending" money on people whenever
it does not tax them as much as it can? Such convoluted reasoning would
never pass muster if the mainstream media were not so determined to see
no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil when it comes to Barack Obama.
actual spending by the Obama administration for the benefit of its
political allies, such as the teachers' unions, is not called spending
but "investment." You can say anything if you have your own private
But let's go back to the notion of "spending" money on
"the wealthiest Americans." The people he is talking about are not the
wealthiest Americans. Income is not wealth -- and the whole tax
controversy is about income taxes. Wealth is what you have accumulated,
and wealth is not taxed, except when you die and the government collects
an inheritance tax from your heirs.
People over 65 years of age
have far more wealth than people in their thirties and forties -- but
lower incomes. If Obama wants to talk about raising income taxes, let
him talk about it, but claiming that he wants to tax "the wealthiest
Americans" is a lie and an emotional distraction for propaganda
The really big lie -- and one that no amount of hard
evidence or logic seems to make a dent in -- is that those who oppose
raising taxes on higher incomes simply want people with higher incomes
to have more money, in hopes that some of their prosperity will "trickle
down" to the rest of the people.
Some years ago, a challenge was
issued in this column to name any economist, outside of an insane
asylum, who had ever said any such thing. Not one example has yet been
received, whether among economists or anyone else. Someone is always
claiming that somebody else said it, but no one has ever been able to
name and quote that somebody else.
Once we have put aside the lies and the convoluted use of words, what are we left with? Not much.
is claiming that the government can get more tax revenue by raising the
tax rate on people with higher incomes. It sounds plausible, and that
may be enough for some people, but the hard facts make it a very iffy
This issue has been fought out in the United States
in several administrations -- both Democratic and Republican. It has
also been fought out in other countries.
What is the real argument
of those who want to prevent taxes from rising above a certain
percentage, even for people with high incomes? It has nothing to do with
making them more prosperous so that their prosperity will "trickle
A Democratic president -- John F. Kennedy -- stated the
issue plainly. Under the existing tax rates, he explained, investors'
"efforts to avoid tax liabilities" made them put their money in tax
shelters, because existing tax laws made "certain types of less
productive activity more profitable than other more valuable
undertakings" for the country.
Ironically, the Obama campaign's
attacks on Mitt Romney for putting his money in the Cayman Islands
substantiate the point that President Kennedy and others have made, that
higher tax rates can drive money into tax shelters, whether tax-exempt
municipal bonds or investments in other countries.
In other words,
raising tax rates does not automatically raise tax revenues for the
government. Higher tax rates have often led to lower tax revenues for
states, the federal government and other countries. Conversely, lower
tax rates have often led to higher tax revenues. It all depends on the
But none of this matters to Barack Obama. If class
warfare rhetoric about taxes leads to more votes for him, that is his
bottom line, whether the government gets a dime more revenue or not. So
long as his lies go unchallenged, a second term will be the end result
for him and a lasting calamity for the country.
Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.
TOWNHALL DAILY: Sign up today and receive Thomas Sowell and Townhall.com's daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.
long as Obama's lies go unchallenged, a second term will be the end result
for him and a lasting calamity for the country." Amen to that!!!
See Votes by State
News & Politics