Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is right. A 70% tax on the rich makes sense

Source: The Guardian

If we are serious about tackling climate change, this is precisely the kind of policy we need to see

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has continued to show her power to steer the national political conversation. In an interview, Ocasio-Cortez suggested offhandedly that income above $10m may need to be taxed up to 70%, especially if we are going to get serious about halting climate change. Her idea instantly sparked indignant replies from the right. Grover Norquist compared it to slavery. National Review’s Brian Riedl called it “completely destructive”. Steve Scalise said she wanted to “take away 70% of your income and give it to leftist fantasy programs”.

Many critics attempt to confuse people over what Ocasio-Cortez said. Just to be clear: she said that when people earn $10m, the 10 millionth dollar and above should be taxed at a high rate. So unless you earn $10m, she’s not talking about “your” income. These are marginal tax rates, though the Republican party loves to trick people by conflating taxes that apply solely to the unfathomably rich with taxes that apply to ordinary workers.

In fact, Ocasio-Cortez didn’t even specifically say what she wanted the US tax rate to be: she said that “sometimes you see” a 70% tax on multi-multimillionaires. And that’s true: Sweden has a 70% top tax rate and consistently remains near the top of the Global Innovation Index. She pointed to the fact that across the world, in many successful social democratic countries, high earners pay more than they do in the United States. That’s a fact, and it should make people wary of talking points about how destructive any attempt to fund critical programs would be.

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