I just went through the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans and started counting, and guess what? A full 80 of the 400 live in California. That’s one out of every five billionaires in America, living right here in a state that can’t afford to educate its kids.
Then I took out my calculator and added up a long row of numbers and got a big one: The total net worth of the billionaires in California is $231.8 billion. Ten percent of that wipes out the budget deficit. And that doesn’t even count the folks worth $900 million or less; they didn’t make the list.
Folks: This is a very, very rich state. A very modest tax increase on a very tiny number of people could solve our budget problems not just today but into the foreseeable future.
I wrote to President Obama today (via the White House “Contact Us” page). I said:
At a recent town hall meeting, you estimated that your national health care plan would cost $90 billion over 10 years. You also estimated that “about two-thirds” of it could be obtained by things “like eliminating subsidies to insurance companies.”
I’d like to remind you of the “elephant in the room” that is always standing there when the federal government seems to be strapped for cash. The budget for FY2010 includes $533.7 billion for the Department of Defense. This is a staggering number: about $1,800 for every man, woman and child in the United States; $7,000 for a family of four.
In one year.
If there are sources for two-thirds of the $90 billion that the new plan will require in its first year, the remaining $30 billion can be obtained by trimming the DoD’s allocation by six percent. Six percent! And think of the symbolism: we’re moving toward the well-being of all citizens, by stealing just a tiny bit from the Department of Death. It would be one of the most beautiful, humanitarian decisions our country has ever made.