Our View: Tax, tax, tax . . .

Posted: November 27, 2012

Susan Estrich — lawyer, writer, and television commentator — is a liberal. As such, Ms. Estrich voted for Barack Obama — and in a recent column she counted the ways, the reasons why.

Among these: the necessity (in her mind) of ObamaCare, maintenance of Roe v. Wade, the continuing need for environmental regulation and federal aid to local schools, support for the president’s decision to end the war in Iraq and, in time, the hostilities in Afghanistan. We strongly disagree. Fine, that’s the reason America holds elections.

But, in that same column, we found something — in fact, the basis for the entire piece — on which we ardently concur with Ms. Estrich: Mr. Obama’s re-election did not — repeat, did not — give him a mandate to raise taxes on “the rich.”

“This was a 212-point election,” she wrote. “It reflected a painfully divided electorate. The only mandate I saw was to unite a divided country . . . I did not vote for (Mr.) Obama because I think I am paying too little in taxes.”

Ms. Estrich “gets it.” Yes, she is “rich” by the president’s standards, and admittedly so, but not in the way, say, a Warren Buffett is rich. She is not in the investor class, living off a portfolio. No, she defines herself as a working woman who “earn(s) virtually every penny of my income.”

Hence, Ms. Estrich cites the need for Mr. Obama to be “very careful,” noting as well that also reelected this past cycle were “all those folks who blocked the extension of the Bush tax cuts if they excluded individuals and small businesses who make enough money to qualify as rich — but not enough to send their kids to college, or help their aging parents, or buy a home in a decent neighborhood.” That is, she sees the threshold on which the president defines “the rich” — it starts at $250,000 for couples — and implies it’s not only divisive but also punitive. Now is not the time to be raising taxes, not in a stagnant economy.

Susan Estrich is right, of course. And never more so than in her last sentence, which reads: “But beginning a new term with what will look to many like a class war is not the way to fulfill the real mandate of this election, which is to bring us together, not turn us against each other.”