Time for a celebrity windfall profits tax?

C. Scott Litch Contributor
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Finally, President Obama said something I can agree with: that Americans do have differences of opinion, that not everyone agrees with him and the Democrats, and that compromise is part of our political system. So in the interest of compromise and deficit reduction, I note that conservatives can certainly throw some new tax proposals on the table in order to throw some Americans under the bus who richly deserve it. Normally we cringe when the usual assortment of “progressive” senators bitch and moan about why the “rich” aren’t paying taxes at a higher marginal rate. We instead favor a flatter tax code and don’t wish to punish success. However, we are willing to make an exception.

As our societal philosopher-queen Oprah has pointed out, we unfortunately live in a celebrity-obsessed culture. Whether entertainment or sports, our citizens know far more about what’s up with the Kardashians and the length of Tom Brady’s hair than the top income tax rate in European countries or the number of political prisoners in Cuba. Therefore, it is only fair that the beneficiaries of the celebrity culture pitch in to help with the deficit. Further, for all those Hollywood celebrities who want to do some good for “social justice,” what better time to step up to the plate?

So here is the compromise: every celebrity with annual net earnings of over $10 million shall pay a special windfall profits tax at the rate of 50 percent of every dollar earned above that amount. The term “celebrity” will of course be generously defined in statute and regulation. Democrats can jump on board because this lets them tax some really rich people. Republicans can support it because it only impacts those Americans who don’t really contribute much to job growth or the overall societal good.

Of course this is a terrible public policy idea. However, it would be fun just to throw it in the mix. Then we can see how many celebrities, particularly from the Hollywood left coast, suddenly change their tune about progressive taxation and making the rich pay their “fair share.” It would also be entertaining to watch our privileged rich young professional athletes contemplate that our hip and cool president really does like to spread the wealth around. When the celebrities raise a cry and hue, then conservatives can say “well, if a tax increase is bad for you, why do you want to stick a tax increase on other successful Americans who don’t make nearly as much money as you?” It’s all part of our right-wing plot to get Americans to learn a little more about Milton Friedman on economics vs. John Maynard Keynes. And that the taxpayer should not be considered a sugar-daddy for a bloated federal government and unsustainable entitlements.

C. Scott Litch is the chief operating officer and general counsel for a non-profit association. Scott is a licensed attorney, Certified Association Executive, and also holds a masters degree in public policy. He is the author of The Principled Conservative in 21st Century America, released in the fall of 2010 just prior to the GOP mid-term election tsunami.