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Seth Cotlar @SethCotlar
, 15 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
This is some high level political hackery by Luntz. The top 1% owns 40% of the nation's wealth, and the bottom 90% owns 20% of it. So, by those standards, the 1% are significantly UNDER-paying taxes and the bottom 90% are OVER-paying.
Here's a recent article on just how skewed the distribution of wealth is in the US these days. washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2…
Tax policy is one, important way in which a society seeks to foster greater economic equity. Luntz's deceptive tweet is part of a politics that suggests that our tax system is already too hard on the rich and too easy on the poor...which is the exact opposite of what is true.
Here's a good graphical description of how income tax rates have changed over the years. You'll notice that between 1940 and 1980 (when America was supposedly great, right?) the top earners paid a far higher rate than they have since the 80s.
And if any originalists out there want to argue about what the founders thought about taxation, let's revisit Thomas Paine's 1792 tract entitled The Rights of Man where he advocated for a system of "progressive taxation." ushistory.org/paine/rights/c…
Paine proposed a graduated system of taxation where the rate would increase as one moved up the wealth scale. His top rate of taxation? 100%
Paine's argument was that over a certain amount of wealth (for him that amount was £23,000) society is far better off redistributing the excess to the poor, the young, the elderly, and the infirm...and the harm that would accrue to those still very rich people was quite minimal.
Whether or not Paine's idea was workable or effective in the 1790s is beside the point...the point is that there's a long history of American patriots seeing tax policy as a legitimate and effective way to foster greater economic equality.
Many of the founders thought that extreme economic inequality was an undemocratic threat to a republic, & that it was perfectly legitimate to take action to prevent the lion's share of wealth from accumulating in the hands of a few.
Paine's mature economic thinking is best captured in his 1796 pamphlet, Agrarian Justice. Interestingly enough, a full transcript of it can be found on the Social Security Administration's website (at least for now). ssa.gov/history/paine4…
Remember when Obama said "you didn't build that?" The point he was trying to make was one Paine had made in 1796. If you have wealth that you didn't produce with your own labor, then you have benefitted from systems you can not take credit for. Thus, you owe something back.
Paine was not calling for the confiscation of all private property, he was calling for a policy regime that would ensure that the natural right to property with which all people were born could be protected.
In a context where almost 50% of all Americans have negative net worth (i.e., own no property free and clear), Paine would say that those people have been stripped of their property rights.
So Paine's point was when you have such extremes of wretchedness and extravagance living cheek by jowl in a country, it's time for something to be done to bend the curve in the other direction.
But you know, Luntz is gonna Luntz. And the centrists are going to decry supposedly "unAmerican, dangerous, and Socialist" ideas like the ones Thomas Freaking Paine advocated 220 years ago.
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