Left-wing superstar Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently floated a tax proposal where top earners, say those making more than $10 million a year, would pay a 70% tax rate on every dollar they earned after their 10-millionth.
Thanks to Washington’s sclerotic views of existing tax rates, the proposal was described as “radical.” It’s not.
We had a top marginal rate on the wealthiest earners that was as high as 90% in the past. Our current system—where the wealthiest Americans avoid paying taxes through low marginal rates, a system that rewards wealth over work, and tax loopholes—is the product of Reganomics that we’ve been living with since the 1980s. Before that, high marginal tax rates were in place during “the good old days” Republicans seem to want to get back to.
Part of the political problem with changing the current system is the Republican Party outright lying about how marginal tax rates actually work. As described above, the 70% rate wouldn’t kick in until you’ve already made that $10 million a year, and $10 million is way more than anyone needs to get by.
Still, Republicans dead-set on rewarding the wealthy investor class are themselves heavily invested in maintaining the ruse that “Democrats want to take 70% of everyone’s earnings.” Scott Walker proved it today in a tweet.
Explaining tax rates before Reagan to 5th graders: “Imagine if you did chores for your grandma and she gave you $10. When you got home, your parents took $7 from you.” The students said: “That’s not fair!” Even 5th graders get it.— Scott Walker (@ScottWalker) January 15, 2019
Blessedly, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is confronting his absolute dishonesty head-on. She responded to Walker’s simplistic misrepresentation with some facts.
Explaining marginal taxes to a far-right former Governor:— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 15, 2019
Imagine if you did chores for abuela & she gave you $10. When you got home, you got to keep it, because it’s only $10.
Then we taxed the billionaire in town because he’s making tons of money underpaying the townspeople. https://t.co/Wcnn2sEgek
To put it another way:
the Republican Party: we lie to children https://t.co/0GwHK57gIz— ryan cooper (@ryanlcooper) January 15, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez also responded to a right-wing writer who seems to have a pretty high opinion of his very stupid “why bother fighting the most outrageous and unsustainable income inequality since the Gilded Age if you’re not going to make everyone exactly equal?” take:
Somewhere between “teachers shouldn’t have to sell their own blood to make rent” & “billionaires with helipads and full-time workers on food stamps shouldn’t exist in the same society” https://t.co/utYrwSObNN— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 15, 2019
Seems reasonable, right?
The rest of the country agrees. A new poll finds almost 60% of American voters support a top marginal rate of 70% of the highest earners. And it’s not just Democrats, a whopping 45% of Republicans think the wealthy should pay more too. (One consequence of creating a vast underclass of people at the benefit of the wealthy few is that there will always be more of them.)
Tax cuts for the wealthy are so unpopular Trump won the GOP nomination (beating Scott Walker in the process) by pretending to be against them. He’s still pretending his tax cut plan (the one Paul Ryan thought would keep the House in GOP hands) didn’t benefit people like him.
Unfortunately, corporate right-wing media convincing these voters to ignore economic policies they support in favor of voting for whoever promises to make football players stand up for the national anthem stymies progress.
Still, AOC deserves a huge chunk of credit for blowing this debate—and the Overton window on taxation—wide open.
h/t: The Hill