CEO Surprise: Please Raise My Taxes

Instead, he believes CEOs of all companies, along with everyone else who makes more than $1 million a year ("hedge fund managers, star athletes, stunning movie stars [and] venture capitalists") should pay 50 percent of their earnings in taxes.

"He's not just advocating a 50 percent tax for executive compensation, he makes it clear he wants this for everyone making more than $1 million," said Alan Viard, an economist at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.

"It's a mistake to single out executives in the tax code," he said. "We're already doing that -- he even mentions it -- and it has essentially accomplished nothing."

Hastings insists that caps do nothing for the economy and serve to prevent the best people from taking CEO jobs.

"The difference between salaries like mine and those of average Americans creates a lot of tension, and I'd like to offer a suggestion," he wrote. "President Obama should celebrate our success, rather than trying to shame us or cap our pay. But he should also take half of our huge earnings in taxes, instead of the current one-third.

"Of course, it's galling when a chief executive fails and is still handsomely rewarded," he wrote. "But with the concept of 'tax not shame,' a shocking $20 million severance package would generate $10 million for the government. That's a far better solution that what we have today, not least because it works with the market rather than against it."

Typical Liberal Reaction

The Hastings' proposal is a retread of typical liberal reaction, O'Driscoll of the Cato Institute said.

"Under the guise of pragmatic response to an issue that's arisen, he's put up this idea," he said. "But we have to remember these people are rich for a reason. Movie stars are rich because they've entertained millions of Americans and millions of Americans have spent money. Taxing them this way defeats the decision of the consumers."

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