In fact, the idea of fairness is at the heart of his whole economic argument. And he goes back to it in almost every public appearance.
He talks about it as a general theme: "It is time for folks like me who make more than $250,000 to pay our fair share."
The problem is that his subjective view of what’s fair ignores the fact that those he says "are doing well" already pay the vast majority of taxes collected by the government.
Translated into ordinary English, what that means is that it doesn’t really matter whether a tax increase actually brings in more revenue. It’s not about robbing from the rich to give to the poor. Robbing from the rich will do, especially if it’s done in the name of fairness.
Now there are good reasons Mr. Obama is not likely to pursue the revenue side of the fairness question. As this newspaper noted in a recent editorial, the latest data from the Internal Revenue Service does not show to Mr. Obama’s advantage. As we come to the end of the Bush administration, the top 1% of American taxpayers already pay 40% of all income taxes — the highest level in 40 years. The top 10% of income earners pay 71% of the taxes.
I understand that Mr. Obama’s sense that poor Americans ought to have better lives drives his definition of fairness. And while I empathize with that view the truth is that the well-off are already paying more than their fair share of taxes.
As the WSJ notes, the real question isn’t about defining or providing fairness but about generating optimal governmental solutions for Americans.