It shouldn't be news to anyone that Obama, even well before his reelection victory, has been touting a consistent tax policy of "tax the rich." As any reader of this blog knows, I'm vehemently opposed to this and any progressive tax rate system with respect to economics, fairness, and democracy grounds. Of course, I've summarized the fairness issue in this article from April, 2012. Regardless, as I said, team Obama and the left like to frame this "tax the rich" issue as if it's a simple request. He has said, time and time again, that part of his tax policy approach is to "ask the rich to pay a little more."
How convenient. It sounds nice. It sounds warm and fuzzy. The word "ask" sounds as if we're all drinking buddies, and we're simply requesting a favor: "I don't mean to impose, but I'm low on cash today, can you please pay for my beer?" On top of that, if were truly a measure of asking, if the rich were to squirm or rebel or protest, well, it gives the non-rich citizens of this country, who comprise the vast majority, another reason to loathe them.
Touché President Obama... touché.
But let's get through this slimy, semantic dance. All fairness and economic and revenue generating issues aside, here is no asking here at all. Taxation does not exist because the government simply asks people to pay taxes. People are forced to pay taxes. Get it straight. When Obama says his plan, "asks the rich to pay more," it would be far more accurate for him to say, "my plan forces the rich to pay more." Telling America that he is "asking" for more tax revenue from the rich puts him in a position of inferiority. For the president, it's intentional, and it's a good thing. It's well-calculated, two-sided language proposition. First, asking hides his power. Simply, Obama claims it's asking when really it's forcing. "Asking" comes off as an inferior move whereas "forcing" comes off as an aggressive, powerful move. Secondly, by saying he is asking the rich to pay more, he is implying that the rich are the possessors of power. As mentioned briefly, this is an attempt to create further negative feelings about the rich. If he said he was going to force the rich to pay more in taxes, this would create the notion that the rich weren't as powerful as commonly thought, but by asking them, it virtually ordains them as a powerful entity from which we must request things (which leads to further socio-economic angst... ahem... the concept of the "1%"). It's quite easy to paint a picture of the rich as these nasty, evil, tax-skirting, stingy, greedy, power-hungry beings if we have to ask things of them.
Each time I hear someone, including the President, claim that we are just "asking" the rich to pay more, I cringe. I cringe almost as badly as when I hear this completely false claim that the rich "don't pay their fair share." If you hear someone quote Obama and repeating his "request," please correct them. We can have a philosophical debate about the economics of taxation all day, but don't let a semantic shell game smooth over what is really happening when it comes to raising taxes in this country.