On Oct. 15, 12 pugnacious presidential candidates for the Democratic Party held their fourth debate. It was filled with economic promises that don’t add up.
“Take from the rich and give to the poor” is the theme that undergirds much of the platform. From climate change to health care, and everything in between, several candidates are using high taxation as a shield against a lack of sound policy ideas.
Wealth and income are inexorably tied to many candidates’ messaging. And nary a week goes by that we don’t hear, “It’s time the rich start paying their fair share.” This, despite that 1) they don’t have the moral or constitutional authority to define “fair”; 2) they themselves are wealthy; and 3) the rich already pay considerably more than everyone else.
According to Americans for Tax reform, citing figures from the Congressional Budget Office, “the top 1 percent of households pay 38.3 percent of federal income taxes,” and “the top 20 percent of households pay 88 percent of federal income taxes.” The richest people in the nation are already kicking in the most money.
Furthermore, even if we tax everyone whose income is $1 million or more at a 100 percent tax rate (that’s right, take it all, baby!), that would only generate about $986 billion per year, which, The Heritage Foundation notes, “would not even eliminate the federal deficit, currently about $1.1 trillion annually—let alone pay for utopian progressive causes.”
Medicare for All (single-payer health care) is estimated to cost $32 trillion over 10 years. Free college tuition programs are estimated to cost $807 billion over 10 years. The Green New Deal is estimated to cost a whopping $93 trillion ($600,000 per household, so you should probably start saving now if you’re planning to vote progressive).
The “LIFT the Middle-Class Act” would reduce federal revenue by $2.7 trillion, Social Security expansion would cost $188 billion, guaranteed jobs at $15 per hour would cost $6.8 trillion, and student loan debt forgiveness would cost $1.4 trillion.
Big price tag for all that “free stuff,” wouldn’t ya say?
Even if we taxed every single person in the country at 100 percent of their income, it wouldn’t pay for these programs, because, in 2018, total personal income for everyone in the United States was only $17.6 trillion.
We don’t have enough income in existence to pay for these pipe dreams, which is, of course, why some Democrats are now also proposing to tax wealth, not just income. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to them that most assets of the wealthy are tied up in stocks, corporate assets, and real estate, while their actual “salaries” might not be so high. So, it might not even be possible for the richest Americans to pay a wealth tax.
Journalist Tim Pool provided a great example of exactly how this scenario could play out in the real world.
“If I start a company … and I sell stocks, and the company is worth $100,000, and I own, you know, 80 percent—great, I’ve got $80,000. I’m not gonna pay anything,” he said. “What happens if overnight—overnight, like in a very short amount of time, in a year—the stock of the company becomes worth $100 billion. Now I’m worth $80 billion, but I haven’t brought in, necessarily, liquid cash to cover the six or so billion dollars I’d have to pay at the end of the year.
“It doesn’t make sense.”
Progressive politicians pushing these hopes and dreams on their supporters know there’s no way to bring these ideas to fruition. Their success in persuading so many millions of well-meaning people to buy into this speaks volumes about the left’s effectiveness at playing on economic insecurity.
Politicians such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) stoke feelings of resentment and envy by selling people on the false notion that wealth is a zero-sum game—that the reason you have less is because someone else has more. They treat success as if it’s been confiscated, rather than earned.
In their implacable foray into economics, the Democrats continue to push moderates toward conservatism.
Adrian Norman is a writer and political commentator.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.