Tom Perkins' Vote-per-Tax-Dollar Scheme Would Have Helped Obama
there are many obvious objections that should be rightfully raised about this “the
more you pay, the more you say” scheme: It’s unconstitutional, it would cause
the disenfranchisement of tens of millions of American citizens (try explaining
to combat soldiers and senior citizens why they’re ineligible vote), and it
amounts to a poll tax.
seems to me Mr. Perkins intended the proposal as intellectual exercise, albeit
a deliberately provocative one. I also suspect he believes the outcome of our last election might have
been different if the moocher class had been denied the right to vote.
So, I decided to accept this
challenge. The ludicrousness of his proposal notwithstanding, it’s worth asking:
Might it have changed the results of the 2012 election? Here I have compared
the amount of federal income taxes paid by state in fiscal 2012 to the number
of Electoral College votes each received, and which candidate each state
elected: Democrat Barack Obama or Republican Mitt Romney.
results, with the important caveat that I held ideological breakdowns for
taxpayers constant, is that Obama would have won by an even wider margin.
The table blow shows Romney won
only one state (Texas) among the 10 biggest contributors of individual tax
dollars to federal coffers in fiscal year 2011, and just three of the top 15.
Sources: Internal Revenue Service, Federal Election Commission
Individual taxes paid
2. New York
7. New Jersey
14. North Carolina
The table shows individual taxpayers in the top 10 states
contributed $807.4 billion, collectively, to the federal government. If you
back out the share from Texas and Georgia, the eight states states in that
group carried by Obama contributed $689 billion, or nearly half of the $1.38
trillion of income tax the IRS collects from individuals annually. By
comparison, Obama’s take from the top nine states equaled 209 of the 270 Electoral
College votes needed to win the presidency.
The Perkins system also would give states like Connecticut and Massachusetts more relative power than their current Electoral College standings do.
To be sure, we can’t know for sure that the votes would
break down along similar partisan lines under a pay-to-play electoral regime. And
it’s also true that there were 304,118 tax returns filed in fiscal 2011 that
reported income above $1 million. Collectively, those people paid $244.1
billion in tax.
It’s probably a flawed assumption to believe a majority of
those millionaire dollar-votes would be cast for a conservative. One only has
to look at campaign finance filing to understand that there are 1-percenters of
both liberal and conservative persuasions; for every American Crossroads 527
group, there’s an ACT Blue
There’s no way to know whether George Soros and Sheldon Adelson’s votes would
cancel each other out (in part because we don’t know how much they pay in tax!)
But the tax data does show pretty convincingly that Mr.
Perkins’ way would have worked out pretty well for Obama. After all,
Connecticut, Minnesota, and Colorado ranked 16, 17, and 18, respectively, on
the above table. Add their 26 combined Electoral College votes to the 247 he
would have received from the 12 states he won in the top 15, and he would have
locked down a second term.