Robert Samuelson somehow concludes that the rich don't have disproportionate influence on policy because the top quintile pays almost 70 percent of federal taxes. It is difficult to understand the logic of this one.
The rich don't just lobby for lower taxes, they also lobby for rules that redistribute before tax income upward. For example, patent monopolies on prescription drugs redistribute roughly $270 billion a year from the public as a whole to drug companies in the form of higher drug prices. Protectionist restrictions on foreign doctors practicing in the United States has pushed the average pay of doctors to around $250,000. This amounts to a transfer of close to $100 billion a year compared to a situation in which doctors were subject to the same sort of market competition as auto workers or dish washers.
The government also provides enormous subsidies to the super-rich in the form of too big to fail insurance for financial companies and one-sided labor laws that impose harsh restrictions on union-side violations but wrist slaps for employer side. There are many other ways in which the rich use lobbyists to ensure that income gets redistributed upward. It is understandable that they would like the public to only focus on taxes, but that is obviously a sidebar.