The silver-haired estate planning attorney slipped into the seat next to me and snarled when the speaker began to speculate about tax policy in the still-new Presidential Administration, “What did any of them expect from Obama?,” the attorney barked in reference to the likely big increases in everything from the estate tax to capital gains to income taxes “for the wealthy.” “This man,” he stage whispered, “never had a job in his life.” Forget the partisanship and the illogic. Remember the visceral reaction to raising taxes. It’s a feeling that’s not uncommon among those who pay most of the taxes in this country, who happen to be the same ones who create the most jobs, and who take the risk of starting their own companies. These are the people most likely to be your clients, of course. As I write this note there are “tea parties” taking place across the United States in which groups of disgruntled taxpayers are following the lead of the Founding Brothers and protesting the coming increase in taxes. The parties may be bankrolled mostly by Republicans, but the disaffection is real.
Being catholic in my choice of friends from both ends of the political spectrum (an anomaly in itself, I know) I am aware that President Barack Obama is both a uniter and a divider (I was taught early on in my journalism career that like a good psychotherapist, I should be aware of my own political predilections and not let those biases unduly influence my reporting or editorial work: During my years at The New York Times, I was fond of saying that when I walked into the mother ship of the Old Gray Lady on West 43d Street in New York, I felt like the most conservative guy in the world; when I returned to my rock-ribbed, lily-white Republican hometown in the New Jersey suburbs, I felt like a Bolshevik. That seemed, and seems, about the right way for a journalist to feel.)