One clear takeaway from the Democratic Convention: President Obama and the Democrats really want to raise taxes on high-income earners. And while Republicans have repeatedly refused to go along with the president’s proposed tax hikes, a solid Obama re-election victory might shake that determination.
Now France could be providing a preview of what might happen here if Obama and the Democrats get their tax increases.
Like Obama, French President François Hollande campaigned on soak-the-rich tax policies, pledging to increase the highest income tax rate from 46.8 percent to 75 percent on those earning $1.2 million or more a year.
Hollande won and, after a little waffling, just announced that his government will move forward with the tax as promised.
The next day, France’s richest man, Bernard Arnault, chief executive of the Louis Vuitton luxury brand, announced he’s moving, according to Reuters.
But Arnault isn’t coming to the U.S., as he did in 1981 to avoid the last Socialist president of France. Arnault is applying for Belgian citizenship. Why trade a French soak-the-rich socialist president for an American one?
For PR reasons, Arnault quickly explained he isn’t fleeing France because of high taxes-an almost requisite, if unbelievable, denial since his company it still based in France. He knows how the left personally demonizes anyone who tries to avoid their high-tax policies-even though several prominent American liberals (e.g., Tom Daschle, John Kerry and Timothy Geithner) have had their own tax-evasion problems.
President Obama-who wants to raise the rates on several taxes, not just the income tax-has repeatedly told us that wealthy people and companies have a patriotic duty to remain on U.S. shores and have their pockets picked so his administration can continue its spending spree. But not everyone is willing to acquiesce to higher taxes.
Under a different U.S. president, we might see those wealthy French come to America. With Obama, the wealthy French-and maybe some wealthy Americans-will choose Belgium instead.
Merrill Matthews, Ph.D., is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation, a research-based, public policy “think tank.” He is a health policy expert and weekly contributor at Forbes.com. He also serves as Chair of the Texas Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.