WASHINGTON -- The hysteria of the nation's wealthiest appeared to hit a crescendo this past week when Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tom Perkins compared efforts to counteract income inequality to the Nazis' persecution of the Jews.
Perkins would later apologize for dropping a Kristallnacht reference into his social commentary, but he stood behind his point nonetheless.
"When you start to use hatred against a minority, it can get out of control," he argued. "The 1 percent are not causing inequality -- they're the job creators."
Were these just the musings of one 82-year-old venture capitalist, then perhaps the reaction to his insensitive analogy would have blown over relatively quickly. But Perkins' point of view, minus the Nazi reference, is held more widely among the super-rich. On Thursday, Politico's Ben White published a piece documenting what he called the "collective meltdown" of the nation's wealthiest 1 percent.
"Economists, advisers to the wealthy and the wealthy themselves describe a deep-seated anxiety that the national — and even global — mood is turning against the super-rich in ways that ultimately could prove dangerous and hard to control," White wrote.
On Friday morning, Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, was asked to respond to the brewing madness. He encouraged those freaking out to just get some perspective.
"I think one can just take a look at facts, and you look at the tax rate on the top 1 percent for example, and even with the higher rates as part of the tax deal at the beginning of this year, it is still lower than it was in the mid-1990s because, for example, the capital gains and dividends rates are both lower than they were then," he said, speaking at a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor.
"So, I think some is just hyperventilation around not paying attention to specific facts and data," he added. "No one here is talking about 100 percent tax rates or 70 percent tax rates. We are talking about tax rates, or the statutory rate, that is the same as the 90s and the average tax rate is even a tiny bit lower than it was in the mid-1990s."