Obama’s economist dismisses worries among wealthy

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama’s top economic advisor today dismissed wealthy Americans’ growing worries about the rising public hostility to investors and rich people.

Some of the worries are “hyperventilating around not paying attention to specific facts and data,” said Jason Furman, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors.

“Take a look at the facts, look at the tax rates on the top one percent, for example, and even the higher rates… [are] still lower than in the mid-1990s,” Furman said at a press conference hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

“No one here is talking about 100 percent tax rates, or 70 percent tax rates,” Furman added, who profiled wealthy people as only concerned about money.

The response was prompted by a rising series of complaints from wealthy people, who are worried about progressives using them as a campaign-trail punching bag. For example, the Wall Street Journal recently printed a letter from one wealthy investor, Thomas Perkins, who said “the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich.” reminded him of the national socialists’ attacks on Jews in 1930s Germany.

Perkins, a co-fonder of the fabulously successful California investment firm Kleiner Perkins, even compared the progressives’ jeers and legal changes to the Nazi Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938, when Jews were beaten and their property destroyed.

Wealthy people are long used to respect from Americans, who are far more willing to accept a society of winners and near-losers than are Europeans.

But the continued economic paralysis is prompting the Democrats to use the widening income gap to harness leftwing populism. For example, Obama is stoking this anger to help spur his supporters and voters during the 2014 elections.

In New York City, Democrats exploited this anger to help elect a far-left candidate for mayor, Bill DeBlasio.

On the right, anger towards the rich has risen in line with federal bailouts of Wall Street in 2008 and 2009, and by the recent efforts by various billionaires — such as investor Steve Case and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg — to increase the foreign inflow of low-wage workers who would compete for jobs sought by American voters and their 28 million teenagers.

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Neil Munro