Harvey Golub is the latest multimillionaire to yell back at investor Warren Buffett and President Barack Obama for saying rich people should pay higher taxes, like they used to. Golub collected up to $25 million a year in cash and stock while he was convincing more and more Americans to buy now, pay later, as head of American Express Corp. in the 1990s, and continued to pocket substantial corporate fees as a director of troubled American International Group and Camden-based Campell's Soup in recent years. He ought to be able to keep what he's got, Golub argues here in the Wall Street Journal. Excerpts:
"I deeply resent that President Obama has decided that I don't need all the money I've not paid in taxes over the years, or that I should leave less for my children and grandchildren and give more to him to spend as he thinks fit.
"I also resent that Warren Buffett and others who have created massive wealth for themselves think I'm "coddled" because they believe they should pay more in taxes. I certainly don't feel "coddled" because these various governments have not imposed a higher income tax. After all, I did earn it..."
Golub says he expects inheritance taxes to divert much of the wealth he'd like to leave his family. He also resents the accumulated federal, state, Medicare and Social Security taxes he's still paying: "Isn't that enough?"
He also says the tax code is broken, so why should he have to fix it? US policy is "replete with favors to various interest groups and industries, favors granted by politicians seeking to retain power. Mortgage interest deductions support the private housing industry at the expense of renters. Generous fringe benefits are not taxed at all, in order to support union and government workers at the expense of people who buy their own insurance with after-tax dollars...
"Do we really need to spend money on solar panels, windmills and battery-operated cars when we have ample energy supplies in this country? Do we really need all the regulations that put an estimated $2 trillion burden on our economy by raising the price of things we buy? Do we really need subsidies for domestic sugar farmers and ethanol producers? Why do we require that public projects pay above-market labor costs? Why do we spend billions on trains that no one will ride? Why do we keep post offices open in places no one lives? Why do we subsidize small airports in communities close to larger ones? Why do we pay government workers above-market rates and outlandish benefits?"
Though it's not like Golub is willing to pay more if all that gets fixed: "Before you 'ask' for more tax money from me and others, raise the $2.2 trillion you already collect each year more fairly and spend it more wisely. Then you'll need less of my money."