WASHINGTON, D.C. — If you want to know what sheep look like just before they get slaughtered, take a look at the innocents assembled on Capitol Hill Tuesday for a press conference calling for higher taxes on America’s wealthiest people. Like our wool-clad animal friends, these wool-headed one-percenters haven’t got a clue about what they’re asking for.
What they want is to pay more in taxes. “Tax us more,” said group co-founder Morris Pearl, who said he was formerly managing director of the mighty Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager and a leading proponent of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing.
Except he doesn’t mean it. Not really, And neither do the other multi-millionaires standing with him like Abigail Disney, grandniece of the eponymous studio founder, and Stephen Prince, who in 1993 founded the company now known as Card Marketing Services.
If they did, if it really was the patriotic duty of the wealthiest Americans to pay more now to address issues like the federal debt and income inequality, they’d pay more now. The fact is they don’t and, when queried about it at their press conference, they said they wouldn’t.
Their reasoning is as flawed as their economics. Rather than lead by example, they won’t pay more until the government forces them to because their actions alone won’t make a difference. They said so, repeatedly.
Here are the facts. Since 2001, the share of federal income taxes paid by the top 1% rose from a hair over 33% to a new high in 2018 of just over 40% after the Trump tax cuts went into effect.
Rather than benefiting from them disproportionally as compared to working-class Americans, it could be argued the richest saw their tax burden increase. In 2018, according to U.S. government data, the top 50% of all taxpayers paid 97.1% of all individual income taxes.
In case you were wondering, the bottom half paid the remaining 2.9 percent. Looking at numbers like that it’s hard to argue the tax code doesn’t already “drive benefits to the working class” as Disney said it should.
Here’s what these solons of socialism actually want:
- To tax all income over $1 million the same regardless of how it is generated, including capital gains income and inheritance income.
- To exempt all taxpayers earning below a ‘cost of living’ wage from federal taxes; and significantly raise tax rates on the highest income earners, with rates of up to 90% for those earning $100 million or more.
- To constrain extreme wealth concentration by taxing wealth and/or unrealized capital gains and tying the level of tax to the level of inequality.
They didn’t say so but it’s in their handouts and press release. They want to punish the rich for being successful, which suggests they may be more in need of psychoanalysis than changes to the tax code.
It would be a lot easier to take them seriously if they were already paying out more to Uncle Sam than they had to because it was important to them to do so. Challenged on their failure to up their ante, they fell behind the barricades, refusing to go first before anyone else would. Patriotic, indeed!
What America needs, now and always, are incentives in the tax code that generate growth. New businesses are created, and existing businesses expand, which means more jobs and bigger paychecks, not just for the wealthy but for the working class. That’s what happens when the economy grows.
You don’t get that by sucking capital out of the system. You get it by leaving it available to people like the ones who gathered in the shadow of the Capitol dome so they can put it to work. That’s the secret of America’s success, as former Presidents Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy and Donald Trump showed would happen when they cut taxes.
None of the speakers on Tuesday had anything nice to say about them. They talked of Reagan like his tax cuts were the source of everything that is wrong with our country today.
They said “trickle down” didn’t work. Really? Compare the size of the economy in 1980 to what it is today or the total number of people working then and now or the Dow Jones Industrial Average or any one of a dozen leading economic indicators. The data shows it not only worked but, for those who’d push the American economy over the cliff into a permanent socialist dive, it worked too well.
A former UPI senior political writer and U.S. News and World Report columnist, Peter Roff is a senior fellow at several public policy organizations including the Trans-Atlantic Leadership Network. Contact him at RoffColumns AT gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter and TruthSocial @TheRoffDraft.
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