During a town hall meeting today, Doug Edwards, the former Director of Consumer Marketing for Google, asked President Obama to please raise his taxes. “I would like very much to have the country to continue to invest in things like Pell Grants, infrastructure, and job training programs that made it possible for me to get to where I am,” Edwards said, noting that he is unemployed by choice because he was “fortunate enough to work for a start-up down the street here that did quite well.” “It kills me to see Congress not supporting the expiration of the tax cuts that have been benefiting so many of us for so long,” he said.
The spokesmen for both House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) — Brendan Buck and Brad Dayspring, respectively — proceeded to mock the exchange on Twitter by densely insinuating that the man only wants taxes to go up because he is unemployed and wouldn’t have to pay them:
These two — either out of ignorance or because they’re being disingenuous — completely missed Edwards’ point and the point behind the “Buffett rule” that the administration has proposed. Many people, Edwards included, make their income through investments, which are taxed at a much lower rate than wages. The Bush tax cuts not only lowered income tax rates, but also the rate on capital gains, taking it all the way down to 15 percent.
The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot…I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off.
Remember, it was the raging socialist President Ronald Reagan who totally equalized the treatment of investment income and wage income, rejecting the argument that investors needed to pay a lower tax rate. Edwards, meanwhile, is earning enough income from his stock options in Google to donate all of the proceeds from a book he wrote to charity, while supporting three children.
But the spokesmen for the two most powerful congressman in the House managed to miss the point entirely. When it was pointed out to Dayspring that Edwards was still likely making investment income, all he could respond with was “he is welcome to pay more.”