From Daniel Henninger:
The Barack Obama budget document just released is not a budget. It is a work of literature. It is Barack Obama’s published apologia for a second presidential term, in which—as the budget and its tax proposals make clear—he will reset the historic balance in America between the public sector and the private sector. This reset will require large wealth transfers—from individuals and companies to the government, and from the government back to the people.
The Obama budget is described everywhere as a “political document,” but it is more than that. Mr. Obama hasn’t assembled these ideas just to get elected. This budget is a statement of belief. It is a road map of where he wants the country to go.
The Obama budget is about an America whose path will be guided by the government far into the future. He is announcing that in his second term, the days of the private Wild West in America will come to a close.
There is no better way to discover this intent than in the president’s tax proposals. Taxes are a nation’s Rorschach test. In taxes you discover how a nation wants to be known to others. The burden of taxation may say that a nation more than anything wants to produce (say, Malaysia), or taxes may say that what a nation most wants is to be thought of as fair (Belgium).
What Mr. Obama wants, with the symbolic billionaire Warren Buffett propped at his side, is a wealth tax that redefines the U.S.
Mr. Obama wants to enact the Buffett Rule to ensure that every “millionaire” pays at least a 30% federal tax on some definition of income. He would raise taxes on married couples making $250,000. The tax on capital gains would rise to 30% from 15%, and he would return the estate tax to 45%.
No more certain sign exists that a nation has chosen to step off its historic upward path than the creation of wealth taxes. A nation imposes a wealth tax when it wakes up one day to conclude that it has become embarrassed, rather than proud of, its wealth, which is to say, its national success.