The late bank robber Willie “The Actor” Sutton is said to have been asked by a reporter why he robbed banks, to which he supposedly replied, “Because that’s where the money is.”

In his autobiography, Sutton denied the quote, but it serves as a warning to those who fear Democrats will come after their retirement savings because that’s where the money is.

All of the remaining Democratic presidential candidates and their advisers seem united in their belief that the federal income tax is inadequate to meet their increasingly voracious spending needs, despite the fact that Washington regularly collects record amounts of tax revenue.

The Wall Street Journal reports on what may be coming should a Democrat win the White House in next year’s election: “For the richest Americans, Democrats want to shift toward taxing their wealth, instead of just their salaries and the income their assets generate. The personal income tax indirectly touches wealth, but only when assets are sold and become income.”

The Economic Innovation Group, a nonprofit that seeks to encourage investment in low-income areas, reports by the end of 2017, American households had $3.8 trillion in unrealized gains in stocks and investment funds and even more in real estate, private businesses and artwork, says the Journal.

If raiding retirement funds occurs, it will start at the extremes, as most outrages do. The strategy will be to again beat up on the successful and wealthy as part of the left’s envy, greed and entitlement scenario.

We regularly hear from Democrats how rich people aren’t paying their “fair share,” though they never tell us what they consider fair and how much of that share they think government should seize.

After socking it to the rich, Democrats won’t stop there. Having established a precedent and again raising taxes on capital gains, they will ultimately find a way to come after your IRA and 401K accounts, which harbor money you have earned for your retirement and pay taxes on as the funds are withdrawn. Not soon enough for Democrats. They think you should be taxed on it now, though how that would happen is yet to be determined as we currently receive a tax deduction for money we invest until age 70½ when mandatory withdrawals must start.

As usual, this debate begins at the wrong end. Since college has just started for many students, try this analogy. Your child is sent off to school and has agreed to a budget. After the first month, you get a call asking for more money because the kid has spent it all on partying. You can either send more money, which will only encourage the irresponsible behavior, or you can say “no.”

Politicians seem incapable of saying “no,” chiefly because it isn’t their money they are spending and because they use it to buy votes, addicting more people to government and thus, to them.

It’s an old, but relevant quote: “We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.” Add $21 trillion to Ronald Reagan’s remark, to reflect the current debt.

Irresponsible spending by both parties is sufficient reason not to give politicians more of our money. Who will stop them from coming after our retirement funds? Since a majority in both parties seems unwilling to restrain themselves, we the people must do it for them. Call it an intervention and it has never been more needed.

It can start with next year’s election.

This year marks Cal Thomas’ 35th year as a syndicated columnist. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com.

(17) comments

DickD

Robbery because the wealthy cannot pay low wages while Republicans cut taxes for the wealthy and create more deficit spending? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

seanjames

amazon paid negative taxes last year. you and your family are subsidizing a company worth hundreds of billions of dollars. and yet your concern is "but if they raise taxes on bezos, what's to stop them from pilfering my measly 401k"??? why is this patently ridiculous slippery slope nonsense even allowed to be printed?

FCPS-Principal

Raising taxes on capital gains, as the writer so condemns, means just raising them to the same rate as ordinary income. Same for those "qualified" dividends. Both are just tax shelters for the rich, paid for by the struggling middle class. It's called wealth redistribution. Upward. And Republicans are the driver. You see it in the 2017 tax "cuts" where the middle class lost all its exemptions and saw a fixed cap on its deductions. Businesses and the rich got all that plus a rate cut. So every year the value of the change for businesses and the rich increases in value while the change for the middle class decreases in value.

MD1756

Those aren't tax shelters just for the rich. If you plan properly, even at minimum wage you can and should save and invest money for your future needs/requirements over spending on today's wants. I worked in the private sector for 4 years (at a manufacturing plant) before working for the US EPA for 27 years. I saved early and often to obtain the resources I have to support myself in retirement. Changing the tax rules now would punish many who have acted as responsibly as I have and not lived beyond our means and not placed a burden on others because of poor choices, but rather people like me have paid extra income taxes (no children therefore no income tax credits or deductions over my entire income taxed years) to provide benefits to those who choose to have children. taxing investments will discourage savings and promote short term outlooks at the expense of long term planning.

DickD

You cry a lot about not having a tax deduction for children. You do realize that is just while they are growing up and if we didn't have it we would not have the country we have today. Someone to take care of you in your old age.;

gabrielshorn2013

That may be true Dick, but the burden should not be put on our children. We are responsible for ourselves, and our futures. Planning for that future is a personal responsibility that many refuse to take. I tend to agree with MD1756 on the child deduction, in that it should have never been established in the first place.

DickD

Gabe, a free education is what sets the U.S. apart from many dictatorships. We educate all up to the 12th grade. Look at the countries that don't.

MD1756

Dick, please come up with something new since your same old argument doesn't cut the mustard on many levels. I don't even suggest that none of my income tax goes to pay for education, but it is blatantly unfair that I should pay higher taxes because I have no children. Everyone knows the income tax deductions and/or credits last only as long as you can claim your children as dependents. Why even bring that up. If you want to bring something up, bring up the cost of the public education (in MoCo and Frederic County, public education is more than 50% of the county budgets) and the continued expansion of school programs with questionable benefits (i.e., expanding all day pre-k when the numbers of student whose skip school by the 12th grade is quite high). You keep spouting the "someone to take care of you in your old age" and I've responded. Why don't you come you whit a new valid argument because I've shot that down time and again? Education isn't free, someone pays for it and as it turns out those who have no children pay more for it than those who have children. I'm living my life so no one but me pays for my needs in old age and once again, as I've said many times before to your tired argument, asking parents to pay the same towards their children's education is not going to make everyone decide not to have children, and finally, those who will take care of me have already graduated public schools. When are you going to realize that 1) the tax policy is unfair and 2) the population cannot continue to grow without limits? By the way, I need a french drain system put in because of all the rain we've been having. How about you sending me some of the tax savings you've had over the years to defray the estimated $8,000 cost? Don't worry, you won't have to because 1) I've saved enough money to account for issues like this and 2) I'm too cheap to pay $8,000 for a 1 x 1 x 60 foot trench, some gravel and a pipe so despite arthritis in both wrists (probably from the manual labor I did when I was much younger), I'll dig it myself and won't expect you to pay for it.

gabrielshorn2013

Agreed about the free education Dick, but is it funded by the tax deduction, which is what MD1756 argues against? No, the child deduction shifts the burden to those without kids. Also, local schools are funded by property taxes, which are another flat tax based on your property value.

MD1756

Once again, either Dick hasn't read my response (which given his previous comments is in the realm of possibilities) or more likely he doesn't have a logical counterpoint but the next time will state his same old tired invalid point.

seanjames

and the 500,000 people per year who go bankrupt over medical bills? i guess it was just their "poor choice" to get cancer

bpsws

Fair? Everyone pays a flat percentage, period. No exemptions!! 10% on all individuals and corporations would do it.

FCPS-Principal

Why should the writer's house maid pay the same tax rate as Mitt Romney?

DickD

And you think that is fair? 10% of a million is $100,000, money anyone making a million will not need or miss. 10% of $30,000 is $3,000, money that is needed for food, clothing, lodging, transportation and other needs.

gabrielshorn2013

All other taxes are flat rate Dick. Is it fair that someone making $30K pays the same 6% sales tax for a TV or shoes as someone making a million dollars? Pays the same gasoline tax for their car? Pays the same hotel tax if they travel somewhere? Pays the same restaurant tax if they go out to eat? In none of these instances, or any other, does the seller ask the buyer what their income is for tax assignment purposes. So why is it fair that income tax is treated differently? If you would like to assign a minimum tax threshold income of $20K, and then tax everyone the same after that, OK. Then everyone is treated the same.

DickD

One is income tax, the others are sales and property taxes. Are we sales taxes and property taxes fair? Probably not, good luck in changing them.

gabrielshorn2013

I know exactly what they are Dick. Nonetheless, they are all flat rate taxes, which are the only fair taxes because all are taxed equally.

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