I suppose that yes, if you structure your entire life around A.) earning a lot of money and B.) doing everything in your power to pay as many taxes as possible on that money then slightly higher tax rates will, in fact, fuck you over.
On the other hand, if you’re a sane person and structure your income so that you pay fewer taxes on that income, regardless of the rate, things will turn out much better for you. I’m not entirely sure who takes their quarter-million dollar salary, then goes on to start a corporation in which their entire salary is taxed again at the corporate tax rate, then receives the same salary as capital gains, then does this for so long without spending any money that he saves up $3.5 million dollars (or $7 million if he’s married) after a supposed 93% marginal tax rate strips away almost all of their gains from their income and investments, but I would truly enjoy meeting Joe the Accountant-Averse Money Recycler. And then offering him a hot investment opportunity involving some offshore property.
Looking at Mankiw’s argument, I’m mystified as to how Bush Administration economic policy didn’t bring about the greatest economic boom the world has ever known. Maybe it’s something we can talk about after he quits working because, like all the Greg the Professors of the world, he’s saved up the millions upon millions of dollars he needs to live comfortably for the rest of his and his family’s natural lives.