The Watering Hole; Thursday June 18 2015; Raise Taxes on the One Percent?

Bernie Sanders Would Tax The Income Of The Wealthiest Americans At 90 Percent.

In an interview with CNBC’s John Harwood, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is running for the Democratic presidential candidacy, said he could back a 90 percent top marginal tax rate.

Harwood brought up that some have likened efforts to combat income inequality to Nazi Germany. Sanders noted sarcastically, “When radical, socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, I think the highest marginal tax rate was something like 90 percent.”

Harwood followed up by asking, “When you think about something like 90 percent, you don’t think that’s obviously too high?” to which Sanders replied, “No.”

He continued, “What I think is obscene . . . when you have the top one-tenth of one percent owning almost as much as the bottom 90.” [. . .]

“If you have seen a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top tenth of one percent, you’ve got to transfer that back.”

Sanders is, in my admittedly humble opinion, spot-on correct in re his tax proposal. A somewhat closer examination (simplistic and scavenged as it is) of top bracket income tax rates across the last near century suggests that a drastic Sanders-style revision of America’s income tax process is long overdue and should perhaps assume a position of top priority:

1918 46%-76% — Post WWI, income taxes became central to federal funding
1925 25% — Stock market crashed in 1929, onset of Great Depression
1932 63% — Tax hike under FDR to counter the depression and joblessness, etc.
1939 79% — Tax raised in anticipation of war in Europe and the Pacific
1940 81%
1942 82% — Post Pearl Harbor, onset of the Second World War
1944 91%
1946 86.4% — Postwar reduction
1948 82.1% — Further reduction
1950 84.4% — Korea
1951 91% — Korea
1964 77% — Rate resulting from JFK’s 1963 tax reduction proposal
1982 50% — Reagan “trickle down” begins
1985 33% — More trickle down
1988 28% — (before write-offs and loopholes, see below)*
1991 31% — Poppy Bush
1993 39.6% — Bill Clinton
2001 39.1% — GWBush
2002 38.6%
2005 35%
2008 — Economic crisis, severe recession, near depression
2012 39.6% – Bush tax cuts eliminated for incomes exceeding $450,000

* According to the Congressional Budget and Accounting Offices, those in the top bracket actually are now, thanks to write-offs and other “legitimate” loopholes, taxed at rates which can wind up ranging anywhere from 0% to 18%.  At the same time, there’s never been so much private offshore investment income (as well as corporate income from offshore manufacturing) that remains totally UNTAXED as there is today. Additionally, there are tax loopholes currently in place that are solely designed to benefit giant multinational corporations. Exxon-Mobil, for example, at the time of its highest profit in history, paid ZERO in taxes and, in addition, received a government rebate of several million$ that same year (your tax dollars at work). Overall, America’s most prosperous, most productive modern era — the abbreviated era in which both the middle class AND the national economy grew the most — occurred in the post-WWII years and lasted until Reagan and conservative “trickle down” policies took over in the 1980’s.

Economic conclusions are tricky to assess simply via raw tax rate data examination, but a few things seem obvious nonetheless. For example, when top bracket rates are at their lowest, economic depression/severe recession can be interpreted to appear as potential consequences; and contrary to the popular political premise, economic development does NOT improve or increase just because tax rates are low. Conversely, it’s when top bracket rates are highest that the economy grows and middle class prosperity accelerates — even as those in the top brackets remain in the top brackets, undamaged. Also, “trickle down” of top bracket prosperity to middle and lower income classes is clearly a myth, the reality being more the inverse. In Robin Hoodian terms, trickle down seems to be a case where the rich are allowed to steal from the poor — and keep it.

Bernie Sanders effectively summarizes the solution to this nation’s current (and fruitless) thirty-five year era of greed-imposed economic woes in one sentence:

“In the last 30 years, there has been a massive — we’re talking about many trillions of dollars — being redistributed from the middle class to the top 1/10th of 1 percent.”

Indeed. And the most effective and efficient means of getting that done is by following the course Eisenhower used in the economically prosperous 1950’s: tax the wealthiest Americans at a 90% rate.and spread the wealth around. Elevate education and educational facilities nationwide. Make it possible for young people to get a college degree without incurring massive debt in the process. Put people to work; repair and maintain infrastructure; invest in renewable energy; invest in maintenance and preservation of public lands across the nation; remove corporate tax credits and tax loopholes; tax large financial estates; tax investment income at the same rate as other income; disallow offshoring tax avoidance schemes; if the choice is made to start a stupid war, pay for it with taxes, not by borrowing.

Things have gone terribly wrong in this country over the last thirty-five (at least) years, and the time has come to effectuate permanent repairs. Remember: “If you have seen a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top tenth of one percent, you’ve got to transfer that back.”

Amen to the concept. I happen to think that the best solution overall would be to tax the 1% at a 99% rate and the 99% at a 1% rate; fair’s fair, after all. But in the interim I’ll go with Bernie and a 90% top bracket rate — and hope for the best in future years.


70 thoughts on “The Watering Hole; Thursday June 18 2015; Raise Taxes on the One Percent?

  1. “Donald Trump, a man who worked his way up from nothing to be born a millionaire.” – Brad Friedman

    • Jeb! (wish I had taken my wife’s name) Bush …. calls himself an ‘outsider’ ? Parody quote right? … no?

    • If Jebster wants to claim ‘outsider’ status, he needs to renounce his entire family, from pops to bros to cousins. He needs to take familial responsibility for the mess that his family caused in the middle east, the economic meltdown presided over by his brother, and offer a difference. Good luck with that Jebster.

      • hmm, is he really attempting to let us know that while Governor of FL he never, ever had contact (money swapping) with the Federal Government?
        Yes, I believe he is an outsider.////

  2. What is rarely discussed when these 90% tax rates are mentioned is that this tax rate applies to income ABOVE a certain level, say $1,000,000. It doesn’t mean that as soon as your income level for the year reached $1 million, you owe the IRS $900,000. It only means you pay 90 cents out of every dollar ABOVE 1 million in taxes.

    With the taxes on the lower incomes still high, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be a millionaire if you earn a million dollars in a year, but no one should expect that. The problem is Greed. What the Reagan Administration told people was (what Gordon Gekko said), “Greed is good.” No it is not, and a political party that bases its message on saying the Bible should be the basis of our laws should recognize that Greed is a Sin (or a bad thing if you’re not one of those Christians.)

    Income inequality of the proportions we have in this country is inexcusable. The only people who would not be innovative and creative if the tax rates are high are greedy, selfish people. And who really cares what they want?

    • Amen and absolutely — I couldn’t agree more. Greed is this nation’s undoing, and the speed of our ‘undone’ picks up every time a Republican policy of any sort becomes law.

  3. Straight off Scotusblog:

    Holding: Texas’s specialty license plate design constitutes government speech, and thus Texas was entitled to refuse to issue plates featuring the proposed Confederate Veterans’ design.
    by Amy Howe 9:16 AM
    The decision is a 5-4. Alito dissents, joined by Roberts, Scalia, and Kennedy. Majority picks up Thomas.
    by Amy Howe 9:15 AM

    Clarence Thomas voted with the Left against allowing Confederate License plates in Texas!

  4. The House of Representatives is voting on a stand-alone Fast Track bill right now. This would have to pass in the Senate also to go to Obama.

    • As expected, the TPA has passed the House, but with no Trade Adjustment Assistance passed, it remains to be seen if they can get to 60 in the Senate, since it was part of the original package.

    • Wait, this was a vote to set up the ‘real’ vote later today. C-Span didn’t make that clear with their chyrons.

      House Advances Trade Promotion Re-vote

      The House Thursday morning easily cleared a procedural hurdle to re-vote later in the day on giving President Obama fast-track authority to seal trade deals.

      A “rule” that sets parameters for floor debate passed on a vote of 244-181. Only one Republican voted against it, while seven pro-trade Democrats broke party lines to support the rule.

    • Fox News Blames The ‘War On Christians’ For Charleston Attack

      Without missing a beat, Fox “News” sought to distract their audience from the harsh reality that this was a hate crime and replace it with their ‘war on Christianity’ claim.
      By including a black pastor [E.W.Jackson] in the discussion, albeit one with a crazy reputation, Fox News spins the story away from obvious racial animosity to their fake notion that the persecuted faith, Christianity is under fire.

      • No FauxSnooze, it’s hatred of Black People by a little white shitofaperson.
        No more, no less. Xianity has no bearing on it. Unless, of course, they were Lutherans…

  5. Dylan Roof.

    Dude’s middle name is “Storm”, and he’s a racist. Big friggin” surprise. I hope he fries.

    White guy known to have killed 9 people gets captured by the cops; black guy at a traffic stop, innocent of any known crime, gets shot in the back and killed by a cop. ‘Murica!!

    Cops should have just aerated this Roof.

  6. My neighbor, Peckerhead Pete came by a little while ago and asked me to do a reverse look up of a phone number. Ever since I paid him $200 for my $600 laptop I feel obligated to do things on the computer for him. Before he asked me to look up the number he said to me, in a hushed voice:

    “Yankee, You know I rib you a lot about blacks and Obama, but I have to say what happened in Charleston sickens me.”

    I asked him whether he considered it a hate crime? He did. I took the opportunity to point out how certain members of the media will call it another random event and blame it on Obama, Democrats, liberals and/or progressive but never on conservatives and Republicans.

    For all intent and purposes the mouse business is dead and the mouse farmer is now a crabber. Pete is now a licensed mobile seafood vendor selling crabs and shrimp from the back of his truck!

    While I was looking up the number for Pete he got a call informing him of a pending delivery of crabs. I walked around to say hello to the former mouse herder and see the 3 bushels of crabs he brought. I can’t decide whether for dinner to steam some crabs (Baltimore style) or cook some shrimp or just buy a cooked chicken when I go to the grocery store later today.
    Does anyone reading this have an interesting shrimp recipe? Forrest? Forrest? Forrest?

        • I usually get shrimp 100 lbs at a time.
          We buy right off the boat.
          Lately we’ve been getting the Royal Red shrimp.
          I just shell them and toss them in a bag with fish fry coating and fry them for sixty seconds.
          Not sixty one, sixty seconds.

          • Coconut shrimp:

            1/2 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
            3/4 cup Bisquick
            I case of hefeweizen beer, such as Blue Moon
            1/4 cup all-purpose flour
            1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
            1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
            1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
            1 cup shredded coconut
            Oil, for frying

            For the sauce:
            1/4 cup orange marmalade
            1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning, or to taste

            Make the shrimp: Rinse shrimp under cold water, and pat dry with a paper towel.
            Add pancake mix and 1/4 cup of beer to a shallow bowl, and stir until smooth. In another shallow bowl, mix together the flour, seasoning salt, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder.
            Drink the remaining quantity of beer.
            Add the coconut to a third shallow bowl. Using the tail as a handle, dip the shrimp into the flour mixture, and shake off any excess. Then dip it into the batter and dredge it in coconut. Repeat with all of the shrimp.
            Fry the shrimp in 350°F oil for 45 to 60 seconds on each side, or until golden brown. Drain on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet.
            Make the dipping sauce: Mix together the orange marmalade and cajun seasoning, adding more cajun seasoning to taste, if desired. Serve with shrimp.

    • There was a burglary at Fisherman’s Wharf recently. The culprits got away with a boat-load of crabs. The APB warned that they were armed and Dungeness.

  7. Rick Ducommun: Actor and Comedian dies at 55.

    Or 58.

    Or 62.

    So says three different news reports I’ve read today.

  8. By the bye, there is a meme running rampant on the intertubes (especially social media) about Pope Francis having a MS in chemistry. This is false. The technical degree he earned is equivalent to (or even slightly less than) an associates degree at a junior college:

    Now, this is not really relevant, beyond the fact that I despise it when people spread lies. A person does not have to be a scientist to accurately report science: just ask Al Gore (or Pope Francis.) In addition, Francis’ educational achievements in philosophy and theology arguably make him well equipped to address the ethical issues that are the primary concern of his just released encyclical.

    The truth is good enough. Be sure to let people know.

  9. HuffPo’s derrrrrrr Headline of the Day:

    “White Supremacists Worried Charleston Shooting Makes Them Look Bad”

  10. If you tax the rich at 90%, they’ll just take their money and put it into offshore accounts.

    oh, wait…

    They already have.

  11. How can you change the tax code to tax the rich, when the rich write the tax code through their indentured servants: Senators and Representatives.

    • Certainly. People think nothing but arming themselves for church.
      Damn Doocy is dim.

      If we revamped or did away with the second amendment we’d be a much safer country.

      • Amen on the second. It’s an absolute travesty that it exists at all, and even more the travesty that it remains so widely and completely misinterpreted as to allow every nut the “right” to own a murder weapon — when its sole reason for existence in the first place WAS to allow state militias to put down slave rebellions.

        The second amendment is standout evidence that shouts to the world that America is NOT what she pretends to be, never has been and never will be, never can be.

  12. Donald Trump is lucky that the Charleston shooting captured the headlines from his $50 three-hour supporters.

    I got paid to act in an industrial training film once. The film was made to show workers in an office building how to enter and exit an elevator without impeding people. The client was the predecessor bank to BB&T, Franklin Graham’s new gay bank!

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