I understand taxing the rich to help the poor. What I can't understand is taxing everyone to help everyone. Means-tested programs like TANF and Medicaid aren't crazy; they take from Peter to pay Paul. Universal programs Social Security and Medicare are crazy; they take from Peter to pay Peter.
I have been telling people for a while that "you cannot subsidize the middle class" and "if everyone is subsidized no one is subsidized".
I would extend Bryan's comments to Government education. The rich and middle class should pay on a sliding scale to send their children to Government schools. T
Also consider my suggestion for healthcare that subsidizes the poor encourages the competent to shop for price and value and avoid huge marginal tax rates near the point where medicaid eligibility ends.
My blog post on a healthcare compromise
The state would provide insurance to all Americans but the annual deductible would be equal to the family’s trailing year adjusted income minus the poverty line income (say $25,000 for a family of 4) + $300. So a family of 4 with a trailing year adjusted income of $30,000 would have a deductible of $5,300. A family of 4 with a trailing year adjusted income of $80,000 would have a deductible of $55,300. Middle class and rich people could fill the gap with private supplemental insurance but this should be full taxed. This would encourage the middle class and rich, who are generally capable people, to demand prices from medical providers and might force down costs. They could opt to pay for most health-care out of pocket while the poor often less capable would be protected.