Patterico's Pontifications

6/24/2019

Ultra-Rich Pleading To Be Taxed More

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:16 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Of course they can just send a check to the US Treasury anytime they want, but hey, given how the federal government consistently pays off its debts and regularly balances the budget through disciplined and restrained spending, why not ask them to mandate the collection of more American dollars, am I right!

In a letter sent to candidates Monday, 18 members of some of the nation’s wealthiest families advocated for a wealth tax on people who amassed great personal fortunes, including themselves.

“We are writing to call on all candidates for president, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, to support a moderate wealth tax on the fortunes of the richest one-tenth of the richest 1% of Americans — on us,” said the letter, which was first published in the New York Times Monday.

It said that millions of middle-class Americans already pay a wealth tax annually on their primary form of wealth: property taxes on their homes. The letter points out that Democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke and Pete Buttigieg have proposed a wealth tax. But the letter’s writers said, “Some ideas are too important for America to be part of only a few candidates’ platforms.”

The letter said the wealth of the top 1/10th of 1% is nearly equal to the wealth of the lowest 90% of American households. “Those of us signing this letter enjoy uncommon fortunes, but each of us wants to live in an America that solves the biggest challenges of our common future,” it said.

The letter lists six key reasons for the wealth tax, and how it can be used in a positive way: It can help fight climate change; would be an economic winner for all Americans; it will make Americans healthier; it is the fair thing to do; it would strengthen American freedom and democracy, and it would be the patriotic thing to do.

Apparently there are not all Democrats are happy about the plan:

The wealth tax isn’t embraced by all Democrats, though, with some arguing it would be difficult to objectively assess the value of wealth like artwork and jewels or illiquid assets. There are also concerns that such a tax is unconstitutional because the federal government is prohibited from taxing property, only income.

And again, the uber-wealthy don’t seem to understand that they don’t have to be compelled by the strong arm of government to give their money to any institution they choose:

“If we don’t do something like this, what are we doing, just hoarding this wealth in a country that’s falling apart at the seams?” Pritzker Simmons said. “That’s not the America we want to live in.”

Of course, now that Bernie has proposed his massive, self-described “revolutionary” plan to erase the country’s $1.6 trillion outstanding student loan debt, those billionaires are really going to need to pony up:

The Democratic presidential candidate’s legislation — dubbed “The College for All Act” — will release all 45 million Americans from their student debt and be paid for with a new tax on Wall Street transactions.

The proposal goes further than fellow Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren’s plan, which caps student debt forgiveness at $50,000 and offers no relief to borrowers who earn more than $250,000.

The $2.2 trillion plan would be paid for by a new tax on financial transactions, including a 0.5 percent tax on stock transactions and a 0.1 percent tax on bonds. That levy would raise up to $2.4 trillion over the next decade, according to the senator’s office.

Sanders’ plan would make two- and four-year public colleges and universities tuition- and debt-free. Trade schools and apprenticeship programs would be tuition-free, as well.

It’s funny how working to fix the basic problems of overspending and overcharging never enter the equation.

No, these people aren’t exhausting at all.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

33 Responses to “Ultra-Rich Pleading To Be Taxed More”

  1. This is so unreal. What an embarrassing display of virtue signaling.

    Dana (bb0678)

  2. …Bernie has proposed his massive, self-described “revolutionary” plan to erase the country’s $1.6 trillion outstanding student loan debt…

    Lemme get this straight – I get to pay of my own student loans (which I only did about 15 years ago or so) AND I get to pay off everyone else’s too?

    Bernie’s plan needs to include a refund to everyone with a previously repaid student loan, plus interest, otherwise it is UNJUST and I for one plan to riot in the streets.

    Dave (1bb933)

  3. Sorry, Dave, but you’re what’s commonly referred to as a “sucker”. I hear there’s one born every minute.

    Dana (bb0678)

  4. 1. What’s more embarrassing? The virtue signally from the politicians, or the fact that their constituents eat this s**t up? I’d say Trump is just as prone to virtue signaling as any other politician is, and the rabid reaction of his base is pretty good evidence.

    Gryph (08c844)

  5. College is mostly consumed by. Middle and upper middle class. What’s the progressive case for adding to the debt I. Order to help off the already ok?

    Time123 (9c5d38)

  6. 5. College was mostly consumed by the middle- and upper class. That’s not true anymore.

    Gryph (08c844)

  7. I never get a good answer to that concern, Dave.

    A lot of people served in Afghanistan or Iraq in exchange for student loan forgiveness. Others worked while in school, and chose community colleges for their first two years, to make ends meet and reduce their debt. Many simply avoided college and picked a skilled trade, or if they went to school, worked hard to pay their debt off. Those who struggled should consider why tuition got so high.

    Also, how many thousands of Bernie loving college students are making poor financial choices today because it’s all student loan debt they think will one day be forgiven?

    There is a better solution: Rick Perry wanted a $10,000 four year degree to be a reality. With online education, that’s possible, and solution enough. If your degree truly is a benefit to you and society, it’s worth that kind of money. Texas has tons of incredible universities offering different online classes. I think they should all be evaluated, and the rigorous classes merged into one program with a common platform (I like Canvas, which is what UT Austin uses), and regular proctored exams being the only time you actually show up at a college or university.

    I believe we could get away from many of the antiquated traditions of formal university education. fraternities, NCAA, huge million volume libraries, taj mahal student unions, $3000 class rings, smoking pot in a dorm… none of it actually matters to most Texans who want to improve their job prospects and contribute more to society.

    Bernie wants us to avoid the work force for 4-6 years and enjoy this grand university experience, and all its luxuries and playtime, and accumulate tons of debt that we just demand everyone else pay for. And that makes sense. Bernie is a millionaire thanks to higher education. I think most people are better of getting a blue-collar job for those 4-6 years and studying over the internet. They will make better choices about what to study, and when they are professionals they will understand how fortunate they are, have basic skills, and we didn’t waste so much on goofy stuff.

    And if 90% of students were to take that route, it leaves plenty thousands left for a few genuinely elite programs to be elite. This is better for them too, except they lose out on billions of loan subsidized revenue.

    Dustin (6d7686)

  8. I wondered about those who couldn’t afford to attend college. How do we compensate them? In the interest of fairness…

    Dana (bb0678)

  9. College is mostly consumed by academia and 80% of them vote Democrat. They will be deliriously happy if their suckers, the students, get relieved of their existing debt so they can immediately start accumulating more in order to keep them in the lifestyle in which they have become accustomed.

    nk (dbc370)

  10. Dustin (6d7686) — 6/24/2019 @ 3:50 pm

    We use Canvas too.

    But my impression is that the quality of online education is extremely uneven (at this point the Luddites will chime in that the quality of classroom education is extremely uneven, but online is – or can be – much worse in that regard).

    I am (outgoing) chair of the committee at my university that reviews and approves all undergraduate course addition/change proposals, including requests to teach existing courses online. Our business school has put forward a proposal to offer an entirely online degree in management (an completely different cohort of students would be admitted to that program, distinct from the ones getting the same degree traditionally). I am very uneasy about online courses in general. For the best students, who are disciplined and have good habits, it can be a definite win. For the less prepared students, or the ones who don’t know how to manage their time, I think they will be ill-served.

    I’m not even sure it’s that much of a cost savings. Salaries are the main expense at a university, and you still need just as many instructors. It could allow somewhat larger class sizes, which I guess would save money, but even there the need for TAs/graders (and their salaries) scales with the number of students.

    I believe we could get away from many of the antiquated traditions of formal university education. fraternities, NCAA, huge million volume libraries, taj mahal student unions, $3000 class rings, smoking pot in a dorm… none of it actually matters to most Texans who want to improve their job prospects and contribute more to society.

    I wouldn’t dismiss the value of a learning community so blithely. Sure, students do screw off some of the time, and some of them screw off all of the time. But peer-to-peer learning is the most effective kind, and I think online instruction sacrifices that. Also, universities are centers of research and creativity, and that kind of learning is extremely important to both graduate and undergraduate students. Speaking for my own field, a positive research experience can be galvanizing in focusing students and making what they learn in the classroom real to them.

    So, yes, for older students, who are interested in changing careers or picking up new skills for the career they already have, I think online education can be a good fit. For first-generation students, or anyone else at risk due to lack of preparation in high school, I think it can be hanging them out to dry, though.

    Dave (1bb933)

  11. I wondered about those who couldn’t afford to attend college. How do we compensate them? In the interest of fairness…

    How do you think? Reparations to those with no college degree, duh!

    That should get TrumpWorld onboard…

    Dave (1bb933)

  12. They aren’t asking to be taxed more, they are asking for OTHER PEOPLE to be taxed more.

    I have a better plan: On each Form 1040, there’s a series of checkboxes

    You may voluntarily add up to 50% to your tax bill.

    ☐ Not at this time
    ☐ 10%
    ☐ 20%
    ☐ 30%
    ☐ 40%
    ☐ 50%

    Each year, the IRS publishes a list of those who have contributed, and the percentage given (but not the amount). ☐ If you would like your donation made public in this way.

    Let’s see which of these loudmouths ponies up. If they don’t we can tell them to STFU.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  13. If they don’t we can tell them to STFU.

    Imma take the liberty of telling them to STFU regardless.

    Dave (1bb933)

  14. Off-topic: Flag burning

    Sparks will fly in Washington as activists torch an American flag to protest President Trump’s July Fourth “Salute to America,” which Trump claims will be one of the largest events in city history.

    Longtime flag-burning activist Gregory “Joey” Johnson of the Revolutionary Communist Party told the Washington Examiner, “I’m going to be there in D.C.,” and “that rag of empire and oppression is going to burn.”

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/white-house/burn-that-rag-activists-to-desecrate-the-flag-at-trump-july-fourth-rally

    Question: One might suspect this is intended to incite violence. Does the “fighting words doctrine” apply to burning a flag at a 4th of July event?

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  15. For themselves, and others like them.

    Dana (bb0678)

  16. Here’s Elizabeth Warren’s two cents:

    It wasn’t until marriage equality became law that gay & lesbian couples could jointly file tax returns—so they paid more in taxes. Our government owes them more than $50M for the years our discriminatory tax code left them out. We must right these wrongs.

    Dana (bb0678)

  17. Clearly Democrats are pushing the envelope with regard to college debt. Warren’s plan was startling, and now Bernie has truly topped her plan with his own revolutionary proposal. Who’s next, and what’s the limit, if any?

    Dana (bb0678)

  18. Oh. No. Not wrong-righting! What about all those housewives who were never paid for their work? Or children cruelly exploited on family farms?

    Why look to the future when you can stir up the past?

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  19. Hm, Bernie’s could backfire because the extraordinary cost involved, and therefore Warren’s plan could be seen as reasonable. Funny how that works.

    Dana (bb0678)

  20. Who’s next, and what’s the limit, if any?

    We give everyone their own personal currency printing press?

    Ink and paper subsidies will be offered to the poor and victims of past discrimination, of course.

    Dave (1bb933)

  21. I think that if student debt was dischargeable in BK, and the school in question had to repay 50% of the discharged debt to the lender, the problems would take care of themselves.

    Loans would be harder to get for some majors.
    Tuition would come down for said majors.
    More thought would go into the process all around, rather than as now, where it is mostly a scam run on the young and clueless.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  22. Instead, how about this Kevin?

    We charge a tax to pay for college education in the same way as K-12, but anyone who has already invested in their own human capital by getting a degree prior to enactment is exempt from the tax.

    Dave (3c40e2)

  23. If the federal government seizes my car or my house, it’s a fifth amendment taking and I am entitled to just compensation. Why would the same not be true if they take my bank account? And if they take $50,000 from my account, what is just compensation if not $50,000?

    Gary Hoffman (7ec1de)

  24. We charge a tax to pay for college education in the same way as K-12, but anyone who has already invested in their own human capital by getting a degree prior to enactment is exempt from the tax.

    Then they jack up some other tax to get them paying anyway. Money is fungible.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  25. Gary,

    If they have the power to tax, then it’s not a taking. THe amount they can tax is a poltiical question, not a constitutional one. They can even tax retroactively — “We decided to cancel that tax credit, so here’s your bill.”

    Luckily for us, a wealth tax runs afoul of the Constitution in the same way than income taxes used to. Warren has some cockamamie scheme to pretend it’s really an income tax, but it isn’t. Then again, Roberts.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  26. 25. REPEAL THE 16TH!

    Gryph (08c844)

  27. Send the check to me instead, my wealthy friends!

    Patricia (3363ec)

  28. 1. I think a wealth tax is a bad idea.
    2. I think it’s probably not constitutional, but IANAL so I could be wrong on that.
    3. I think we should subsidize college more than we do. I also think colleges should cut back on amenities and infrastructure to reduce costs.
    4. I like Kevin M’s idea of allowing college loans to be discharged in bankruptcy, with some safe guards to prevent abuses. Seems like that’s something smart people could find a solution to.

    But I hate the opening line of an otherwise great post.

    Of course they can just send a check to the US Treasury

    This irritates me because it dismisses any argument around societal and systemic impacts, reduces them to a moral argument, and then dismisses the speaker as irrelevant because of hypocrisy. Thats a problem because it also dismisses the viewpoint of anyone cares about or is interested in those arguments. It’s fine as a laugh line for people who already agree with you “Ha ha these people we dislike are fakes too dim to see their own hypocrisy.”

    There’s an honest conversation to be had about economic mobility, crony capitalism, and a system that locks in the gains of people whose ancestors did well. Many of the Pro-Trump commenters here (RC and NK for example) frequently express grievances about that. I suspect this letter was too far to the left for them to get worked up, but the structure of a similar argument is there.

    Some other areas where I’ve seen this reduction to the absurd used that bug me. Maybe these will resonate.

    1. If you don’t like gay marriage don’t get gay married.
    2. If you don’t like hand guns don’t buy one.
    3. If you think we buy too much stuff from china don’t buy Chinese goods.
    4. If you think the speed limit on that road is too high you can just drive slower. (this one may not be legal depending on the details)
    5. If you’re so worked up about how the lawns look just mow yours. Don’t ask for more code enforcement.
    They all reduce a concern about the common’s, about the system, to a question of personal choice and personal morality.

    I’m not saying that pointing out a speaker’s hypocrisy is always out of bounds. If the claim is being made on moral grounds I think discussing the speaker’s morality is fine, if not always a complete answer. But in this case the argument wasn’t “It’s morally wrong for people to have wealth” it was “The American system would be better in these ways if we taxed wealth.”

    Again, a good post that I enjoyed reading.

    To the extent that neither political party has shown ANY results in curtailing spending in the last 30 years I think a discussion in increasing revenues is a good idea that should be explored before we launch any new social programs.

    Time123 (ca85c9)

  29. It wasn’t until marriage equality became law that gay & lesbian couples could jointly file tax returns—so they paid more in taxes.

    Warren is wrong on that. Two people filing singly will pay less in taxes than they would if they filed jointly. The only exception to that would be if one person earns nothing at all, which I’d venture to guess is extremely rare among same-sex couples.

    Chuck Bartowski (bc1c71)

  30. It’s called the “marriage penalty” and applies to all joint filers where the spouses both have significant income. Someone should ask her if there should be an exception for gays.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  31. Bill Gates being asked about donating to the Treasury:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8b-VxspLug4&feature=youtu.be

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  32. We charge a tax to pay for college education in the same way as K-12,

    To paraphrase P J O’Rourke, if you think college is expensive now, wait until it’s free!

    Kevin M (21ca15)

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