At the World Economic Forum in Davos Friday, billionaire Michael Dell was asked what he thinks about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed 70 percent tax rate on earnings after the first $10 million. The question got a laugh from the panel and the audience, and Dell predictably said he did not support this tax plan. When asked why, he shot back with a demand that must have made every American history expert laugh.
“Name a country where that’s worked, ever.”
“The United States,” chimed in MIT Professor Erik Brynjolfsson. When the host suggested that this was true “briefly, in the 80s,” Brynjolfsson gave the entire room an important history lesson.
“No, no, no. From about the 1930s through about the 1960s, the [top] tax rate averaged about 70 percent. At times, it was as high as 95 percent, and those were actually pretty good years for growth.”
This is the same thing that Ocasio-Cortez has been patiently trying to explain to detractors for several weeks now, but it’s nice to see a professor correct a billionaire right to his face.
Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Technologies, does not appear to attempt to respond to this basic history lesson. Hopefully, he’ll take Brynjolfsson’s words to heart. He can certainly afford to pay a 70% tax rate on his estimated $32 billion in total wealth. Maybe he doesn’t need to own the most expensive penthouse in all of New York? At least not while there are 40 million people in the U.S. living at or below the poverty line.
Twitter certainly thinks so.
Because they buy the congressmen who make the laws!— Christine Sharp (@christinesharp) January 27, 2019
Still waiting for that trickle down effect.— Nicholas Solana (@Nick3190) January 26, 2019
There was no come back either.. I love it!— Lou (@lou_justice) January 27, 2019
Exactly "briefly in the 80s" was her response and she was going to move on? Umm.. what?— JoeyCumley (@justagaynberlin) January 27, 2019
Ignorance is bliss until someone with knowledge comes along.— Jane Caro (@JaneCaro) January 26, 2019
That first reflexive wave of laughter reminds me of this... pic.twitter.com/SHlfwMjPZF— Sayed A Tabatabai (@TheRealDoctorT) January 27, 2019
They understand marginal tax just fine. They really really really don't want people making like 80K a year to understand marginal tax.— Ollie McClellan (@OllieMcClellan) January 27, 2019
So a marginal income tax rate of around 70% actually would have the potential to really make America great again? What a plot twist.— Patrick Philpp (@ProtheusProgne) January 27, 2019
Smuggy McSmuggerton says “Name me a country “ and this answer is his own. pic.twitter.com/OppYzmyYkI— Chucky A (@pyledog495) January 27, 2019
Yep, see fossil Wilbur Ross's comments the other day.— Jander Katze (@JanderVK) January 27, 2019
Background noise goes from laughing old rich people to ... ?— Duke Tran (@tranaduke) January 27, 2019
Of course, financial genius @MichaelDell said if he was in charge of Apple he would “shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”— Tafkak (@tafkak) January 27, 2019
So we should definitely listen to him about the future.
I'm baffled why they would even ask someone like Michael Dell that question. I also wonder why he answered so confidently and wrongly.— Taylor Grayson (@taylorgrayson) January 27, 2019
Moderator's internal monologue: "Oh no! Someone actually know something about historical tax policy. Quick, laugh nervously and change the topic!"— Highwayman429 (@Highwayman429) January 27, 2019
In many ways, this brief exchange aptly proves that just because you're super rich doesn't make you an expert on economics. This video also demonstrates why we, the American taxpayer, should invest more in education than in the 1%.— Thomas S. Fairchild (@go4progress) January 27, 2019
Just because you make a computer doesn't mean you can compute.— Green New Deal Now!!! (@StevenParrott12) January 27, 2019
Love the single lonely handclap when Dell says it’ll hurt growth.— the dark manatees (@audio_embed) January 27, 2019
Also, to answer @MichaelDell’s request to name a country where a 70% tax on the top income bracket has worked: Sweden (https://t.co/HWhKbIb8x3 via @PplPolicyProj).
Eisenhower implemented one of the highest tax rates ever, and our nation didn’t fall apart. Republicans just confuse people with their fact free rhetoric. They say we’ll ‘become Venezuela’ but ignore successful socialist programs, and successful socialist democratic countries.— Jeremy N. Majors (@jeremyww) January 27, 2019
Sadly, there are no bachelor degrees for becoming a millionaire. Most hit the big-time out of unique circumstances, while believing it is because of their hard work. In short, it looks like being a millionaire gives you a right to remain ignorant. Sad but true @AOC— Dave Marrero (@FullStretchDave) January 27, 2019
Ecce Trump.— Adele Culp (@AdeleCulp) January 27, 2019
The real question is, was Michael Dell really ignorant about the high marginal tax rates during the mid-20th century, or does he just want to convince the rest of us that him not paying his fair share is good for us?