Economists have advanced many theories of taxation. But as usual, the one that seems to explain the policies of the Obama administration best is what I call the Mikulski Principle, the theory most clearly enunciated in 1990 by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D, Md.):
Let’s go and get it from those who’ve got it.
Just take a look at the myriad taxes proposed or publicly floated by President Obama and his aides and allies:
- Raise the top income tax rates from their current 33 percent and 35 percent rates to 36 percent and 39.6 percent in 2011
- Limit itemized deductions for people paying high rates
- Increase capital gains and dividend taxes by 33 percent for people paying high income tax rates
- Impose a value-added tax (VAT) on all goods and services
- Raise the Social Security tax by lifting the cap
- Raise a variety of business taxes by $353 billion over 10 years, including repeal of LIFO rules, restoring Superfund taxes, seven tax increases on energy companies, and more
- Tax employer-provided health benefits
- Implement a cap-and-trade system for emissions permits, the functional equivalent of a massive new tax
- Tax drivers on their mileage
- Change rules to raise gift taxes
- Restore the estate tax at 45 percent
- Raise cigarette tax by 62 cents a pack
- Raise taxes on beer, wine, liquor, and soda
- Eliminate health savings accounts and flexible savings accounts
- Tax employer-provided cellphones
- Tax AIG employee bonuses
- Raise taxes on overseas corporate earnings
As the links will indicate, not all of these taxes have been formally proposed, and some have already run into sufficient criticism to have become unlikely. But together they illustrate the mindset of an administration and a Congress determined to extract as much money as they can from Americans rather than cut back on expenditures, which have doubled in about eight-and-a-half years.
Indeed, the administration's programs remind us that today is July 2, the 233rd anniversary of the day on which the Continental Congress voted for American independence, issuing a document that declared, among other things,
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.