Tax and Spend
As far as I can tell, the main difference between the Democratic and Republican parties is that the Republicans want to lower taxes and spend; and the Democrats want to raise taxes and spend more. In the end, it may be a wash.
In days of yore – that is, before Donald Trump was elected – Republicans mostly ran for office promising to cut spending and, hopefully, reduce the National Debt (capitalized on purpose because it has become so enshrined in the public’s mind). Perhaps you’ve noticed that this traditional litany has disappeared; indeed, the Republicans lowered taxes and recently struck a deal with the Democrats to raise spending. Is it any wonder then that Paul Ryan has decamped for small-town Wisconsin? And that increasing numbers of traditional Republicans are declining to run for re-election?
In the meantime, dozens of Democrats are running for President. While there is little to choose between their proposed programs, some of the candidates are more amusing than others. For example, a few days ago Judy Woodruff of the PBS Evening News interviewed New York mayor Bill de Blasio. He has an interesting past. He spent his honeymoon in Cuba, even though the travel ban to that worker’s paradise was still in effect. He was also a public and vocal supporter of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. If through some miracle (you know, like the one that gave us Donald Trump) he was to be elected President, you can be assured that our relations with Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela would improve dramatically.
Woodruff asked him about his tax proposals. He would, he said, raise the top rate to 70 percent for incomes exceeding $2 million per year. The current top rate is 37 percent, which I actually believe could be raised modestly, perhaps to 45 percent. By the way, our tax rates are progressive, i.e., you do not pay the top rate on all income, only that exceeding (currently) $501,000 per year. Thus, the hated “one percent” of earners pay an average of 26.87 percent of their income to the Feds. That, by the way, accounts for 37.3 percent of total income tax revenue; the percentage for the top five percent is 58.2 percent. To bore you further, 44 percent of Americans pay no income taxes at all.
Let’s assume that candidate de Blasio would be satisfied with about 40 percent for the first $2 million, then the 70 percent for the rest. Then, take someone with $10 million in taxable income (sports and entertainment figures as well as titans of industry). They would get to keep $3.6 million, and happily give the government the rest. Since most of the Democratic candidates believe the rich are stealing their income from the poor anyway, that would be justice indeed.
While you ponder that, closer to home (Chicago), the Chicago Tribune reports that four members of the Chicago Teachers Union have returned from a junket to Venezuela funded by their fellow union members through crowd-funding. (See Kristen McQueary’s reasoned commentary in the August 20 Tribune). Their glowing reports found their way onto union internet sites, although the union now seems to be backing away from them, without actually disavowing their opinions, which strongly support President Maduro and his band of humanitarians. It seems that the Venezuelans who are left – according to the United Nations, four million have decamped – are highly literate. This is all to the good, of course. Without much actual food to be had, perhaps they can eat their words.
Copyright 2019, Patrick F. Cannon