Here’s a Mainstream Idea: Tax the Rich
Taxing the rich is not a radical idea. For nearly 30 years, a majority has supported higher taxes for those at the top. Since 1992 when Gallup began asking the question on surveys, the share of respondents saying the wealthy pay too little has never been less than 55 percent.
President Trump has long favored tax code loopholes and special tax breaks that allow the wealthy to avoid paying taxes. Throughout his re-election campaign, he has attacked progressive tax policies, pointing to the stock market as the barometer of economic well-being and claiming Biden’s plan to increase taxes for a sliver of rich people would be a tax hike for the middle class.
The truth is that taxes individuals pay would go up for just 1.9 percent of taxpayers — all with earnings or income of than $400,000 a year — under Biden’s plan. Families earning less than $400,000 annually, or 98.1 percent of taxpayers, would see no changes in their personal income taxes or payroll taxes.
When Trump’s claims were largely discredited by expert analyses, he pivoted to say the increase was too much to bear for the top 1.9 percent and doubled down on a capital gains tax rate cut as a sensible pandemic response.
Eight months into a pandemic that has resulted in nearly 230,000 deaths, nine million cases and unemployment rates unseen since the Great Depression, proposals to cut taxes for rich people are so callous and absurd we had to ask: Can Trump and his allies even relate to ordinary people?
The Trump administration embraced trickle-down economic theories, a longstanding trend that set the rich up to weather the COVID-induced economic crisis at the expense of the rest of us. The wealthy few who are heavily invested in the stock market are doing great. The rest of us, not so much.
While the rich are getting richer, millions worry how they will pay their bills, put food on the table, make housing payments or find and maintain employment.
The public has long demanded fairness in our nation’s tax code, and despite little or low confidence in our federal government, a majority increasingly think the government should be doing more. To do that policymakers must, in turn, design a tax code that demands more of those who have more so we can fund public investments that help all communities thrive, now and in the future.