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February 7, 2019

Utopian Dreams, Dystopian Realities

Democrats want to punish the wealthy just for daring to have more money than others.

“Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.” —Donald Trump from his State of the Union address

It’s going to take a lot of resolve. The politics of class warfare, long cultivated by our school system and the media, have apparently taken root. According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll, a whopping 76% of registered voters believe the rich should pay more in taxes. A Fox News survey reveals a similar sentiment, with 70% of Americans in favor of raising taxes on those earning over $10 million.

“There is a deep wellspring in terms of perception of unfairness in the economy that’s been tapped into here that either didn’t exist five years ago or existed and had not had a chance to be expressed,” asserts Michael Cembalest, chairman of market and investment strategy at JPMorgan Asset Management “This is quite a moment in American economic history where all of a sudden in a matter of months this thing has kind of exploded like this.”

Columnist Karol Markowicz states it far more succinctly. “Watch out, America: Democrats’ class warfare is back with a vengeance,” she writes. “Your money belongs to them to redistribute as they see fit.”

Freshman House representative and media darling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s desire to impose a 70% marginal rate on income over the $10 million mark was well received by 59% of respondents to a recent Hill/HarrisX poll. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s “wealth tax,” which would levy a 2% tax on those with a net worth over $50 million, and 3% on those worth over $1 billion, was supported by 61% of the 1,993 registered voters queried by the Politico/Morning Consult poll.

There’s a reason wealth tax is in quotations in the preceding paragraph. That’s because what Warren is proposing isn’t a tax, but outright wealth confiscation that tramples the 16th Amendment’s authorization of Congress to “lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived.” (Emphasis added).

Warren wants to confiscate pre-existing wealth — on an annual basis, no less. Thus, those with assets of $50,000 would automatically pay $1 million per year to the government and those with assets of $1 billion would automatically fork over $30 million per year, even if their annual earnings were zero.

Freshman Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar is also aboard the bash-the-rich bandwagon. She’s proposing a 90% tax. “We don’t have a problem of scarcity, really,” she insists. “What we have is a problem of moral courage.”

Socialist Bernie Sanders is after inheritances. He’s proposing a bill that would levy a 45% tax on the value of an estate between $3.5 million and $10 million, and a 50% tax on the value of an estate between $10 million and $50 million. “From a moral, economic, and political perspective,” he pontificates, “our nation will not thrive when so few have so much and so many have so little.”

Morality and fairness have nothing to do with it. As of 2016, Americans who earned $250,000 and above per year paid 52.6% of the nation’s income taxes. Those who earned between $249,000 and $200,000 paid 5.9%, and those who earned between $100,000 and $199,000 paid 21.9%.

Those three groups comprised 16% of the returns filed — yet they paid 79.4% of the nation’s income tax bill.

As for the top 1%, a Washington, DC-based think tank called the Tax Foundation reveals that in 2015, that tiny group of Americans paid 39% of individual income taxes, while the bottom 90% of Americans paid just 29.4%.

And for 2018, approximately 76.4 million American workers, or 44.4%, will pay no income tax at all.

That is not to say those Americans pay nothing. There are a host of other levies such as sales tax, property taxes, and payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. Yet when nearly half of Americans are relieved of the burden levied on their fellow Americans, it is no surprise that “soak the rich” is an attractive mantra for those with no skin in the game.

Unsurprisingly, hypocrisy abounds. The 2017 Republican tax cut included a $10,000 per household cap on state and loan tax deductions — meaning the so-called rich would no longer be able to deduct any income above that threshold from federal taxation.

So who complained the loudest? High-tax states controlled by those same Democrats. In fact, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey filed federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the deduction cap, while other states engaged in dubious machinations to lower the federal-tax liability of their richer residents.

In short, those who advocate for higher taxes on the rich attempted to protect “their” rich from paying them.

Yet such hypocrisy apparently remains irrelevant. “We need additional revenue if we’re going to provide health care for all, rebuild our infrastructure, [and] make public colleges and universities tuition-free,” asserts Sanders.

Few ideas are more intellectually bankrupt than the assertion that some government-provided benefits are “free.” Nothing is free, and the idea that Democrats can actually sell wealth transference as free epitomizes the astounding level of economic ignorance that afflicts this nation.

That ignorance is amplified when it ignores reality, as in the 2017 tax cuts engendering an economic boom. “US real GDP growth in the second quarter of 2018 was 83 percent greater than it was in the second quarter of 2016, the last year of the previous administration,” the Boston Globe reported last October. “The growth of real private fixed investment was 129 percent greater. The unemployment rate fell from 5.0 percent in September 2016 to 3.7 percent in September 2018.”

Nonetheless, the true believers remain unconvinced even when reality bites. On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state had a dramatic drop in state income-tax revenue, amounting to $2.8 billion. He blamed it on the aforementioned cap on state and local tax deductions that are causing high-earning New Yorkers to … leave the state.

How many jobs will they be taking away, along with their personal wealth? How many millions of jobs will Democrats sacrifice in service to their power-hungry, bash-the-rich agenda?

More important, when will Americans realize that job creation requires incentive, not coercion?

Moreover, middle class Americans need to take heed. If they think Democrats can implement the massive expansion of their welfare-state ambitions solely on the backs of the rich, they’re quite mistaken: A 2008 analysis revealed that taxing every American millionaire at a rate of 100% would only run the federal government for 111 days. If the same outright confiscation scheme were applied to everyone earning more than $200,000 the government would run for only 253 days.

That is not to say wealthy American can’t pay more in taxes, and raising the tax rate on carried-interest that disproportionately benefits the select few goes to the top of the list.

But that doesn’t negate the reality that Democrats will eventually need to go where the real money is. And when they do, Americans should expect the definition of who’s “rich” to be considerably expanded.

The fundamental transformation of the nation into the socialist/Marxist “utopia” Democrats yearn for demands nothing less.

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