Any war, regardless of its context and environs, earns its particular niche in history. That I may not bore you over much with lengthy descriptions, I will limit this discourse to the 20th century and beyond.
In April 1917, after two and a half years of attempted neutrality, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war against the Central Powers in World War I, the "War to End All Wars." In 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt found it necessary to ask for a declaration of war against the Axis in yet another World War.
Following in trace of President Harry Truman's "Police Action," as the undeclared Korean War is known, and President Lyndon Johnson's markedly unpopular Vietnam war, we have endured Johnson's War on Poverty, George W. Bush's War on Terror and are presently captive witnesses to Barack Obama's War on the Wealthy.
Sadly, the only advertised success enjoyed is FDR and the Allied victory over the Axis in World War II. The "War to End All Wars" did not bear the desired fruit, Korea and Vietnam were equally inconclusive, and poverty and terrorism, unfortunately, are still very much a part of the landscape. I shudder to contemplate the consequences of this president's war against the rich — or "class warfare," as it is better known.
The administration denies the class warfare designation, instead extolling the virtues of the "Buffett Rule," a newly described federal minimum tax imposing a levy of 30 percent on the income of anyone earning more than $1 million per annum. It is named for billionaire Warren Buffett to honor his notion that middle-class workers such as his secretary should not pay income tax at a higher rate than millionaires.
Applauded by progressives as "economic justice" or "fairness" at work, this arithmetic is badly flawed. According to Internal Revenue Service calculations, the middle class pays something less than 15 percent of its income to federal taxes while the wealthiest 1 percent pays in at 26 percent. And, when the math we learned in grammar school (as opposed to this "new math") shows that the top 1 percent earn about 19 percent of U.S. income, but pay nearly 40 percent of the income tax — just where is the unfairness?
Initially, the proposal of raising taxes on the wealthy so that they would chip in with their fair share somehow included those making $250,000 or more per year as millionaires and billionaires. Apparently, even this business-challenged administration discovered this was quite a stretch, hence the substitute of the Buffett Rule to punish those who dared be rich.
Ending the Bush tax cuts or imposing the Buffett Rule — take your pick — originally was heralded as a formula by which the wealthy would provide sufficient revenue to limit fluctuations of the deficit and begin paying down the national debt over the next 10 years.
However, the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation determined that the 30 percent millionaire tax would raise but $47 billion in revenue. The Treasury Department's estimate was not measurably brighter — $5 billion a year for 10 years. To hide the fact that the numbers did not add up, the administration merely ratcheted up the volume of blaming the rich.
For those who pose a disclaimer, opining that the party of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson would never lower itself to such degradation, let's take a look at the campaign against Mitt Romney, the Republican front runner and almost inevitable nominee. The former Massachusetts governor, while by no means a charismatic or even accomplished campaigner, is, by all accounts, a courteous, self-made man with absolutely no hint of scandal to his name.
Moreover, Mr. Romney has proven that he can govern with bipartisan success, succeed in business and create jobs. He also took the bribery-infested can of worms that was the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City and transformed it into a profitable and honest venture. His record shows he is, in fact, pragmatic, intelligent and moderate enough to appeal to the independent voter. He need not stoop to demagoguery and misrepresenting facts to hide his lack of accomplishment.
What is his failing you ask? Alas, it is that he is afflicted with great wealth — he is one of those (gasp) one-percenters whose income is derived from investments and taxed at 15 percent. The mere fact that he is rich (did you know his wife owns two Cadillacs?) purports to render him out of touch with the middle- and low-income classes.
I don't recall either of the two Senators Kennedy (inherited wealth) campaigns or the Senator Kerry (married into wealth twice) campaign being maligned or even questioned by the public, the media or the opposition. One would think the issue of "fairness" or "economic justice" would prevail on both sides of the political aisle.
In closing, I doubt any of my readers are so naive as to believe that politics, particularly in running for office, is not a collision sport, nor does the milk of human kindness flow through the veins of the candidates, nor that truth is never a casualty. Nevertheless, the waging of class warfare is a robbing of Peter to pay Paul — in so doing, the purloiner makes an enemy of the much less abundant Peter while acquiring the eternal friendship of Paul.
It is sad indeed when an incumbent cannot run for re-election on the strength of his record, but instead attempts to turn the electorate against the wealthiest 1 percent as if enjoying the success of the American dream is somehow immoral or unfair.
It's called buying votes.
J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via email at JKarlUSMC@aol.com.