Imagine for a moment that you are in the top 1% of the population in terms of wealth. You make $10 million a year in income and bonuses. Most likely, you are very business-wise. You know what decisions will maximize your wealth, and you act accordingly.
Healthcare reform starts to get mentioned, and it appears that your taxes may increase as a result. Nothing huge, maybe only 1% higher. From 35% to 36%. This is still far lower than when Reagan was President (the highest tax bracket paid at least 50% from 1981-1986), but it is a slight increase from the tax policy since 2003 (although still lower than taxes from 1993-2002, when our economic growth was strong).
So you make $10 million a year. That 1% tax increase is $100,000. What do you do? Do you say “alright, I’d prefer not to, but I can afford the extra $100,000 in taxes”, or instead do you think “I have to find some way to prevent this tax increase”?
Going on the assumption that you are business-minded, you’re going to take the decision which makes most sense to your bottom line. So if the alternative to paying that $100,000 in taxes is to contribute $50,000 to a lobbyist group to pressure members of Congress to eliminate the tax increase, it is something you would consider. If you realize that other wealthy individuals are also considering this option, then the probability that the lobbyist succeeds will skyrocket if all of you contribute. Using simple game theory, it is easy to see that the wealthy are better off by each of them contributing a fraction of the potential tax increase to influence Congress and prevent reform.
If that means healthcare reform fails, and millions of citizens are still left uninsured, and millions more can’t afford the insurance they have, well then so be it. You’re wealthy. You have great health insurance.
But imagine how the families who are struggling feel.