Americans might despise bankers and disdain our elites, but we've always been squeamish about taxing the rich. So when the House of Representatives proposed a surtax on the top 1.2 percent of the population to pay for about half of its health care reform bill, moderate Democrats immediately pounced on the measure as unsellable to their constituents. And so, Speaker Nancy Pelosi now says she's looking to squeeze only millionaire families for the precious billions needed to keep heath care deficit neutral over the next ten years. Is this realistic?
The speaker would like the trigger raised to $500,000 for individuals and $1 million for families, "so it's a millionaire's tax," she said. "When someone hears, '2,' they think, 'Oh, I could be there,' because they don't know the $280,000 is for one person.
"It sounds like you're in the neighborhood. So I just want to remove all doubt. You hear '$500,000 a year,' you think, 'My God, that's not me.'"
I think most people expected the original surtax to be watered down before it was inscribed into law, because watering down is what Washington does. Like golfing into a strong headwind, the best strategy with launching major legislation in DC is to swing too hard, and expect that every element of the weather will weaken your drive.