I wrote yesterday that “rich businessmen inevitably wind up reaching the view that lower taxes on rich businessmen and less regulation of their business is the key to prosperity.” Clearly, the use of “inevitably” in that phrase is an overstatement, and some rich businessmen have a different view. Tim Carney, who for some reason wants to be dense about this, runs down the top 10 people on the Forbes 400 list and finds that several of America’s very richest billionaires in fact favor higher taxes.
Still, the fact of the matter is that high-income businessmen tend to be strongly favorable to a low-tax agenda. You can see this with, for example, the positions of the United States Chamber of Commerce. As an association of rich businessmen, they agitate for low taxes on high-income people and they want the tax cuts paid for either through deficit spending or reduced outlays on the poor. Carney is fond of pointing out that rich businessmen are not consistent advocates of small government, which is completely true. I read something just today about the U.S. Chamber bucking the GOP to oppose cuts to some kind of electric car subsidy program. Given that Carney and I agree that “our media and politicians put too much stake in the economic pronouncements of businessmen,” I’m not sure why he’s nitpicking with me. The point, which I think we agree on, is that executives as a whole tend to put forward views that are more about what’s good for them personally than about pursuing a coherent conception of the national interest.