During a Monday town hall meeting hosted by LinkedIn in Mountain View, Calif., a wealthy, voluntarily unemployed audience member asked President Barack Obama: “Will you please raise my taxes?”
The questioner continued: “I would like very much to have the country to continue to invest in things like Pell Grants, infrastructure, and job training programs that made it possible for me to get to where I am. It kills me to see Congress not supporting the expiration of the tax cuts that have been benefiting so many of us for so long.”
When Obama asked what startup he made his fortune on, the audience member coyly responded, “It’s a search engine.”
Google’s global headquarters is in Mountain View, not far from the site of Monday’s event.
Obama used the opportunity to restate his desire to raise taxes on the wealthy, insisting that Americans’ entrepreneurial success does not occur a vacuum. “We’re successful because somebody invested in our education,” he said. “Somebody built the schools. Somebody created the universities. I went to school on scholarship.”
This question comes amid public discussion of the so-called “Buffet rule,” a capital-gains tax proposal aimed at increasing taxes on wealthy Americans. (RELATED: Obama swats softball questions at LinkedIn snooze)
In a March 2010 report, Heritage Foundation economist J.D. Foster writes that raising capital gains taxes creates a drag on the economy because it increases the cost of obtaining new business capital.
“A higher tax rate,” Foster writes, “means a higher cost of capital, which means less capital employed, which means less output and less income. In turn, less income earned means less tax revenue from the federal government’s many sources.”
Though a few high-profile wealthy Americans have expressed a desire for higher taxes, studies indicate that tax hikes, particularly on top income-earners, are felt most significantly by the middle class, not the super-rich.
Wealthy Americans who still want to pay more, however, can make their own contributions to the U.S. Bureau of the Public Debt. In 2010 the bureau received $2.8 million in unsolicited donations.