July 18, 2012

MICHAEL BARONE: Obama believes success is a gift from government.

The cynical might dismiss Obama’s preoccupation with higher tax rates as an instance of a candidate dwelling on one of his few proposals that tests well in the polls. Certainly, he doesn’t want to talk much about Obamacare or the stimulus package.

Cynics might note that he spurned supercommittee Republicans’ willingness last year to reduce tax deductions so as to actually increase revenue from high earners, without discouraging investment or encouraging tax avoidance as higher tax rates do.

But maybe Obama’s Captain-Ahab-like pursuit of higher tax rates just comes from a sense that no one earns success and that there’s no connection between effort and reward.

That kind of thinking also helps to explain the approach taken by Sen. Patty Murray in a speech at the Brookings Institution on Monday. She wants a tax rate increase on high earners so badly she said she’d prefer raising everyone’s taxes next year to maintaining current rates.

Well, as the recipient of so much undeserved success, you can see why he’d feel that way.

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