Expect little, and you will be rewarded: Part Three

I continue my desultory march through the platform of New York’s hip progressive Mayor Bill and friends. (Scroll down this page for Parts One and Deux.)

TAXIn my previous post I looked at how the platform treats the bottom of the income distribution, more specifically those outside the labor market, or with very tenuous connections to the labor market. On this score, the platform is found to be lacking. Remember, this is all supposed to be aspirational and not subject to abrupt dismissal on grounds of immediate political feasibility.

Today I look at what the platform does to compress the income or wealth distribution from the top. And the answer in this case as well is: not much. Some of the rich do get dinged here by the tax proposals, namely:

1. “Close the carried interest loophole.
2. “End tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.
3. “Implement the “Buffett Rule” so millionaires pay their fair share.
4. “Close the CEO tax loophole that allows corporations to take advantage of “performance pay” write-offs.”

My instant appraisal: 1. the loophole is egregious but the benefits go to a small group; 2. hard to do for technical reasons; 3. A 30% minimum tax for millionaires, ok, but how; a tax on what? Interestingly, the White House blast on this provides zero details. 4. Provides more jobs for tax accountants.

The striking thing about the list is its neglect of the basic shortcoming of the Federal individual income tax: failure to fully include income from capital (capital gains, dividends, estates, etc) in the tax base. For how to do this, you’d have to rely on that commie source, the Congressional Budget Office. And what about taxing financial transactions? Why are we kissing up to Wall Street? I thought we were the 99 percent.

The pwoggie list seems to have been dreamed up by a PR person, about which fine, but who is going to educate the folks on what really needs to be done? If not here, where?

There are other ways the rich get richer with the assistance of the government. We could get into the weeds quickly in that case, so I can’t fault the platform for its concision. But as far as taxes go, they missed the big stuff.

My pet peeve about all of this is that under social-democracy, higher taxes will also be on the agenda for those between $100,000 and one million. If you’re serious about expanding the public sector with public revenues at about 40% of GDP, there is not enough money from the rich and corporations. It’s been a while since I did the numbers on this, but nobody has ever given me any reason to think otherwise. I realize this is a lot to ask of U.S. progressives, given their tendency to tell people we can have more social goods, but you won’t have to pay for them. Hey, if more social goods are desirable, shouldn’t people want to pay for them?

My next post will deal with the labor market.



Expect little, and you will be rewarded: Part Three — 4 Comments

  1. Y’know, for a guy with a split sternum you sure seem to have a lot of eloquence and insight on tap. I really appreciate the clarity you bring to these essays.

  2. I should think the Prime Directive is to empower labor to somehow get it’s mitts on its “fair share”.

    Then we can discuss all the social goodies we want and how to pay for them.

    It’s tough to advocate social spending when nobody but a few have all the money.

  3. Pingback: Links 6/1/15 | Mike the Mad Biologist

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