President Obama has come out swinging, as the USA struggles to get its financial act together. A nearly $500 billion jobs bill has now been followed by a proposal to raise taxes on Americans making more that $1 million a year. Those on the left love the idea; those on the right have labeled it class warfare. In an effort to invoke an extremely rich dude who has strongly advocated that rich people pay more in taxes, Obama has taken to calling it the "Buffett Rule," after billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
I just want to know how much money it would bring in. And at a local level, roughly how many people in Southern California would get hit with the new tax, in the event that it actually gets passed. This isn't Kansas, after all — if you live in or around Los Angeles and San Diego, you are in a major millionaires region. In 2009, the Los Angeles metro area had almost 234,000 millionaires, according to statistics cited by the LA Times. I figure LA has even more now.
Want a little billionaire backlash with your daily dose of economic turmoil? Maybe you do, if the billionaire backlash you're talking about involves Warren Buffett as something of a class warrior. The Oracle of Omaha recently took to the opinion page of the New York Times to argue that it's high time we stopped protecting the "mega-rich," as if they were "spotted owls or some other endangered species."
Endangered species! Don't put too fine a point on it, Warren! In fact, the mega-rich – whom Buffett effectively defines as "making more than $1 million" a year – are anything but endangered, under the current tax code. Their long-term capital gains taxes have been a modest 15 percent since 2003 (before that, they were taxed at about 28 percent, and in the 1970s, nearly 40 percent). And that's stayed the same through the financial crisis and a change in administration at the White House.