Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wall Street Journal Opinion on Taxes from Harvey Golub; The Totally Uninformed Response to Warren Buffett

Is Ignorance a Requirement to Opine for the Wall Street Journal?

Some time ago billionaire Warren Buffett wrote an editorial piece for the New York Times in which he indicated that he and his fellow mega-wealthy could and should pay more federal taxes.  Now in response to Mr. Buffet the Wall Street Journal opinion pages have enlisted Mr. Harvey Golub,

Running American Express - No Financial
Knowledge Required

Mr. Golub would seem to have reasonable credentials. Mr. Golub, a former chairman and CEO of American Express, currently serves on the executive committee of the American Enterprise Institute. 

Yet his comments border on pure nonsense (ok maybe they cross that border).

Of my current income this year, I expect to pay 80%-90% in federal income taxes, state income taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, and federal and state estate taxes. Isn't that enough?

Well yes, that is enough if that is what you were actually paying.  But as Brett Arends points out in the same paper (the news sections, not the opinion sections where his corrections to Mr. Golub would be banned) that 80-90% number is just not possible.

And one would think that Mr. Golub, being a former CEO of a company like American Express would know that individuals do not pay estate taxes.  The estate, which is a trust, pays estate taxes.  But then maybe Mr. Golub is so enthralled with the chance to make his anti-tax position known on the prestigious pages of the WSJ that he really doesn’t care about being accurate or correct (it's ok Mr. Golub, many contributors don’t care either).

Mr. Golub goes on to complain about the fact that he and his fellow mega wealthies pay most of the cost of government and says

Almost half of all filers pay no income taxes at all. Clearly they earn less and should pay less. But they should pay something and have a stake in our government spending their money too.

Which confirms that the position of many wealthy Conservatives is that they are opposed to tax increases except for those on lower income earners.

Then we have this from Mr. Golub

Gifts to charities are deductible but gifts to grandchildren are not

Indicating that in Mr. Golub’s world not only should he be allowed to make large gifts without paying the Gift Tax, but that the gifts to his grandchildren should be tax deductible, lowering his taxes even more.

And in conclusion we note this comment by Mr. Golub

Mr. Golub:  Can You First Read This
and Then Get Back to Us

President Obama has decided that I don't need all the money I've not paid in taxes over the years, or that I should leave less for my children and grandchildren and give more to him to spend as he thinks fit.
(emphasis added)

that nicely displays his ignorance of our governing system, namely that all spending must be authorized by the Congress and that no President has the right to spend as he or she sees fit.  But then we all know that while Conservatives revere the Constitution, many of them have neither read it nor understand it.  Mr. Golub is certainly in that group.

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