Tag: taxes

Elizabeth Warren’s Unconstitutional Wealth Grab

 

As part of her populist presidential campaign, Senator Elizabeth Warren has unveiled a proposal for an annual wealth tax of 2 percent for ultra-rich families whose net worth is between $50 million and $1 billion. That tax would increase to 3 percent for families whose net worth exceeds $1 billion. The tax is on top of many other taxes to which such a family would be subject, including, presumably, the progressive ideal of a 70 percent income tax as well as state and local taxes. The wealth tax would even apply to people whose net worth has declined during the past year so long as they remain above the stated threshold. Cumulative taxes could easily exceed 100 percent of income. That result is not an unanticipated bug but rather an essential feature: Warren wants to mandate greater income equality through tax policy, even if it means leveling down, not up.

In a future column, I shall address the economic ramifications of this proposal. But for now, I turn to the question of the constitutionality of this novel wealth tax. On that topic, Senator Warren offers in support two short letters signed by sixteen prominent American constitutional law scholars that vouch for the constitutionality of her plan.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America see a teachable moment as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo blames President Trump and the GOP tax reform for many wealthy people leaving his state over high taxes, but the solution would seem to be pretty simple. They’re also surprised to see 50 percent […]

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Elizabeth Warren’s Theory of America’s ‘Freeloading’ Billionaires

 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren says she wants “billionaires to stop being freeloaders.” It’s a statement akin to the idea that billionaires need to “give back” to society. Which is not how I immediately think about the wealth inequality issue. Surely Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates didn’t begin to “give back” or generate value for society only when he began “giving back” via the Gates Foundation to boost education and reduce global poverty. Society benefited from his role in revolutionizing home computing, generating massive wealth for retirement plans everywhere, and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs over the decades.

Oh, and Gates became superrich in the process. And he should pay taxes. Lots of them. Does he or other wealthy Americans pay anywhere near enough? Warren and many Democrats don’t seem to think so, (although paying for new spending does seem to be the primary concern here). Thus the talk of a wealth tax or a higher top income tax rate. There’s less talk on the left, however, of possible tradeoffs from such ideas. A wealth tax would certainly be a theoretically powerful — though difficult to administer and possibly unconstitutional — way to break up or diminish concentrated wealth. (Many nations that have tried them have since abandoned them.) But there is another side of the story. My AEI colleague Alan Viard notes that wealth taxes of the sort Warren advocates “would be a drain on the pool of American savings, [which] finance the business investment that in turn drives future growth of the economy and living standards of workers.” Something to consider at a time when the American economy faces historically low economic growth due to demographics and low productivity.

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Alexandra DeSanctis of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America enjoy watching Howard Schultz and Elizabeth Warren trade insults over Warren’s proposed wealth tax and shudder to think that Schultz might be the most sensible liberal considering a 2020 presidential run. They also slam Kamala Harris for suggesting that lawmakers who don’t support gun […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America get a kick out of CNN commentator Areva Martin telling radio host David Webb his success is a result of white privilege – until Webb tells her he is black. They’re also aghast as 59 percent of registered voters support a 70 percent marginal […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America think President Trump did alright in his speech and agree that his presentation was better than the stiff stares of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. They also shake their heads in wonder as more Democrats embrace huge tax increases and government-run health care and […]

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Before We Crank Up Tax Rates, Let’s Have a Smart Debate

 

It now seems there’s going to be a national conversation about whether top federal tax rates should be dramatically higher. And for that, you can partially credit first-term House member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — as well as the extreme media attention given to her every policy utterance. But only partial credit here. At a time of a) high national debt that’s heading even higher, and b) increased inequality — including the creation of some truly massive personal fortunes — it’s a discussion that was probably inevitable.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are grateful to see House Democrats revealing their real goals right from the start – impeachment, huge tax increases, abolishing the electoral college – and hope Americans see what they’d be getting if Democrats also controlled the Senate and the White House. As the […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and and Greg Corombos of Radio America find themselves drowning in crazy martinis again today. They slap their foreheads as a new GOP congressman from Tennessee – who is also a doctor – appears to tell a constituent that he’s hesitant to accept the government’s denial that childhood vaccinations cause […]

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Daniel Foster of National Review Online and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer the French people for forcing their government to suspend implementation of new fuel taxes, although their tactics leave a lot to be desired. They also shake their heads as Congress punts any tough spending decisions to Dec. 21 and appears unwilling to […]

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Daniel Foster of National Review Online and Greg Corombos of Radio America reflect on the life and political legacy of President George H.W. Bush, who died on Friday. They applaud Bush’s service in World War II and many stops in his career of public service and also remember his leadership and the Berlin Wall and […]

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America hope the accuser is OK but cannot miss the irony of lawyer Michael Avenatti begging for the presumption of innocence after being charged with domestic violence and just a month after trying to destroy Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with no evidence. They also […]

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David Brooks on culture and economics. Brooks completely ignores how integral coercion is to the Democratic platform. What Brooks calls materialism (redistribution) is a major component, but it is the open coercion that is more likely to bother people. Materialism involves coercion (taxation is theft), but forcing schools to allow men into women’s bathrooms and […]

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Richard Epstein on Classical Liberalism, the Administrative State, Free Speech, and Silicon Valley Regulation

 

For this week’s Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten podcast, I had legendary classical liberal legal theorist and longtime professor at University of Chicago Law School and now at NYU Law — and prodigious Ricochet podcaster Professor Richard Epstein on the podcast to discuss among other things:

  • The role that Professor Epstein’s famous book, “Takings” played in Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing — and then-Senator Joe Biden’s hectoring
  • Professor Epstein’s groundbreaking theories on private property rights, eminent domain and the Takings and Commerce Clauses
  • The practical argument against progressivism
  • Whether we should deconstruct the administrative state, and if so how to do it
  • The danger to free speech emanating from college campuses in a world of microaggressions, trigger warnings, de-platforming
  • The folly of regulating Silicon Valley social media companies
  • Classical liberalism versus socialism and libertarianism

You can find the episode on iTunes, everywhere else podcasts are found or download the episode directly here.

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The New Battle in Seattle: Don’t Blame Amazon for the City’s Housing Woes

 

Seattle has decided to be a last-minute entrant into the competition for Amazon’s HQ2. But while most cities — such as Boston and Washington — are trying to land the retailing giant’s second headquarters, Seattle is doing its best to make Amazon reconsider the importance of its current home base. The company “will continue to evaluate its long-term plans for Seattle after the City Council passed a bill to tax large businesses to fund homelessness services,” according to the Seattle Times. Recall that when a larger tax was being considered, Amazon had halted planning one new office building and was considering subleasing the office space on another that’s under construction.

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This story continues with some reactions from the community. First part is here. Sometimes, at community events with constituents, Seattle City Councilmemberperson Mo will bring up the idea of trolling downtown streets. More

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I couldn’t resist passing on this news item, inspired by Seattle Times staff reporter David Gutman. Seattle will develop a plan to troll city roadways as part of its efforts to reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse-gas emissions, Mayor said Tuesday. More

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“Personal Responsibility” Means Nothing Anymore

 

Today Walter Williams in his syndicated column reminded me (like I needed to be reminded) that people simply don’t care about personal responsibility anymore. He gives a number examples of how the culture has changed, and writes about companies that advertise the ways people can get out of their debt. They promote steps people can take to “quickly be debt free.” Essentially, because someone carelessly and thoughtlessly used a credit card to satisfy their materialistic needs, the companies are paying for it. Even Dave Ramsey, a financial expert and person of high moral values whom I greatly admire, encourages people to negotiate with companies to lower their debt, and for a fraction of what they owe.

Then we have the Federal Student Aid program, which provides a means for students to have their loans forgiven, canceled, or discharged. At first, when looking at the requirements, I thought that the criteria made sense; then I realized how any creative person could play with those guidelines:

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Teddy Kupfer of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer President Trump’s selection of John Bolton as National Security Adviser and look forward to his tough stance on North Korean nukes and the Iran nuclear deal while liberals fear that Bolton will start bombing everyone. They also unload on the bloated $1.3 trillion […]

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Immigrants from New Jersey: Welcome!

 

It looks like us “halfback” states might be seeing immigrants from New Jersey soon. If you folks from New Jersey come to South Carolina, we kindly ask you to observe some rules of civilized behavior:

  1. Don’t bring your New Jersey politics with you. Many of you flee the places where your policies are enacted, yet you try to reinstate those policies here. Just say no.
  2. Respect Southern heritage. In spite of all the statue removals and battle flag removals you read about, Southern pride still reigns supreme down heyah. Don’t bad-mouth the South, and learn to love pulled pork and fried chicken. While you’re at it, buy a pickup truck. They’re pretty handy for hauling stuff.
  3. Don’t complain about the heat and humidity, and we won’t complain about what little snow and ice we get.
  4. Although there are many colleges here, everyone has to choose between Clemson or South Carolina. Pick one, and at least pretend to be a fan.
  5. Don’t panic if you see someone with a gun. Most folks down here have one or more, even liberals.
  6. And finally, don’t tell us how much you liked your old state. If you miss it so much, move back!

Observe these things, and we’ll get along just fine. There are many other rules, but they will be in the Welcome to South Carolina packet issued to you after you arrive. If the @bethanymandel family moves here, my wife and I will provide personalized instruction (including Southern voice lessons) to ease the transition…

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