Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is calling for a Green New Deal. Kamala Harris is calling for tax cuts that actually cut taxes for the middle class. Everyone wants to know how we’re going to pay for these things. I’ve been kicking some ideas around today in partial conversation with a friend.
A Green New Deal will probably require a graduated system. In general terms, Ocasio-Cortez suggests that some portion of the top wealth of the wealthiest people will be taxed at 60 or 70 percent. Maybe that seems unfair to you. What seems unfair to me is that the payroll taxes of middle class people provide more revenue to the federal government than do corporate taxes. Separately, the effective payroll tax rates of the wealthiest Americans are minuscule in comparison to most working Americans. The payroll tax is one of the most regressive taxes there is.
Higher rates at the very top, it seems to me, would help make everyone’s life better. Someone has to finance the saving of the planet, and unless the ultra-wealthy are banking on terraforming Mars in the next few decades, they have just as much of a vested interest a Green New Deal as the rest of us. And are we really supposed to believe that a high tax rate on the very top levels of the income of the wealthiest Americans is a burden?
And yet, people who oppose higher corporate taxes (which, honestly, shouldn’t be all that controversial given the true tax burden in this country) are going to frame this as Democrats coming after the paychecks of middle class people.
But an actual tax cut for the middle class? How about we eliminate the employee share of the payroll tax and replace it with an increase in corporate tax? Maybe reduce the payroll tax for small businesses under a certain threshold?
One of the biggest obstacles to any of these reforms will be the power of people who demand corporate profit has passive income. Sure, we need investors. But we lionize and exaggerate how brave their risks tend to be.
Who is the American Middle that has the power to make the 2012 election something different?
Most people reading this post. That huge nexus of overlap between the responsible Tea Partiers and the responsible Occupiers. The employed. The unemployed. The insured and uninsured. Homebuilders and homeless. Students with too much debt, families without enough food.
A reader writes: “I know you joke about your Kuccinich/Paul dream ticket, but I go one step further: it takes a group of crazy D’s and a group of crazy R’s putting aside all that easily divides them and works toward helping real people overcome the big government and big business working against them. What a concept?”
What a concept. I hereby propose the noble and wrongly-maligned fox as the symbol of the next American electoral revolution. If crazy is Ds, Rs, Is, TPs, OWSs all working together for the kind of change we need, I’m crazy all day long.
None of the following thoughts originated with me. I’m just helping curate.
Fiscal responsibility is a progressive position.
Conservative, liberal, progressive, radical…these are labels powerful people use to keep people with most interests in common apart. In reality, most voters have no interest in this kind of politics, no use for these kind of names, no time for these games, waning patience for these kind of political “ethics.”
Members of the middle class tend to identify with the upper class because they see upward mobility as reachable and good. That’s fine, except when it keeps us from also identifying with the economic underclass from which most of us came, part of which most of us could still easily be, and to which we have human, civic, moral and spiritual responsibilities, as they have also to us. As we all have to each other.
Prudence is not a reactionary or cautious position. It’s knowing the good and know how to bring it about and then doing it. (Aristotle)
We have more similarities than differences.
Citizens of different nations have more in common with each other than they do with their own ruling classes.
Information wants to be free, and so do people.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….