Soaking the Poor
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
The bumper of my 2010 Mazda is a stream of stickers dedicated to two people who couldn’t be more different: Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren. On either end of the bumper is the same sticker: A pumpkin carved to look like Trump with the adjacent message, “Trumpkin: Orange on the outside, hollow on the inside, and should be thrown out in November.” In the center is “Warren,” and on either side, “Warren has a plan for that” and “Tax the Ultra-Rich.”
It’s past time for the Trump anti-ad to go, even if we can’t entirely be rid of him. Notwithstanding Republicans’ efforts to keep him relevant, we don’t need reminders of the awful legacy he left: the too-close-for-comfort attempt to overthrow our democracy, along with a mélange of other acts that wreaked havoc on our country. Though I come to bury Trump, the aftermath of his reign lingers, for, in the words of the bard, “the evil that men do lives after them.”
But the Warren stickers? Okay, she didn’t make it to the White House, so the “Warren” sign is outdated. But the senator hasn’t gone anywhere, and neither has her campaign message about taxing the obscenely rich? She’s reviving it, and still fighting to restore sanity to the country’s distribution of wealth.
This time, she has collaborators: Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, with Sen. Bernie Sanders and others co-sponsoring. The plan is even heftier than before, calling for a 2% annual tax on households and trusts worth more than $50 million, plus an annual surcharge of 1% on billionaires, effectively 3% total. Analysts say it would raise $3 trillion over 10 years.
What would that money pay for? How about child care, public education and infrastructure?
What impact would it have on the individuals taxed? Nothing discernible. Yet, Warren said, Democrats are divided on the idea. Why on earth would that be? I can only think of one reason: People have no concept of just how much a billion dollars is.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal
Rep. Brendan Boyle
It’s so vast that my Casio calculator can’t come even close to showing it. It goes only to 10 million. You know anybody worth 10 million? Hesh (he or she) likely lives in a mansion and drives the sleekest of cars. So how many 10 millions are there in a billion? One-hundred. Think of that person worth $10 million, and multiply that 100 times. Even the $50 million as Warren’s starting point is five times more than $10 million.
How much money would a person worth $50 million have left after the government taxed herm (her or him) 2%? A mere $49 million. And a billionaire? Only $980 million.
Well, goodness, we can’t have that. How would people left in such dire straits be able to put food on the table? How could they pay the rent or the mortgage? Oh, yeah, that’s right, they don’t have mortgages on their castles with 20 bedrooms and 15 bathrooms, the faucets plated in gold. Castles, plural: They have several of them. Along with a yacht or two and a private jet – or two –plus a dozen Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches …
In short, such a tiny tax would have zero effect on the lives of these individuals. Oh, but opponents of the tax say, they would move to another country to avoid the tax. They point to Elon Musk, currently ranked richest person in the world, who moved from high-tax California to low-tax Texas.
So let them move, I say. Good riddance! They don’t pay much income tax, anyway. What good are they? If that’s all they care about the communities they live in, who needs them? Vamoose!
There are a few good ones – damned few. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Ted Turner, Tom Steyer, and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer come to mind. They think taxes on the rich should increase.
As technological innovations increase, the wealthy are only going to get wealthier, experts say, while the rest of the population is left in the dust. Already, countless people make the federal minimum wage of $7.25, which hasn’t increased since 2009. That’s just over $15,000 in a year of 40-hour weeks. Democrats’ efforts to increase it to $15 by 2025, with a $1 hike coming this year, are meeting overwhelming opposition from Republicans.
The Dems control the Senate, but even some so-called “moderates” are against it. What politicians seem to be missing is that money in the hands of the poor helps the economy, because they of necessity spend it. On the other hand, one party apparently has no interest in boosting the economy. That would make the other party look good, and then what would happen at election time?
The answer? The same thing that happened when Obama, despite overwhelming opposition from Republicans in Congress, got the depressed economy rolling. He was re-elected.
The minimum wage hike was part of the big, $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill, which passed by a 50-49 vote today. To get it passed, the bill’s initiators had to make important concessions. First, they had to drop the wage increase part because eight Democratic senators opposed it, including Joe Manchin of West Virginia, one of the poorest states in the country. The stimulus legislation provides direct payments of $1,400 to a huge number of Americans and extends unemployment benefits through July. It also provides funding for state and local governments, and K-12 schools and universities.
So how do people feel about it? Here’s what a Morning Consult/Politico poll showed this week:
Seventy-seven percent of voters backed the stimulus plan when its Democratic origin was not disclosed, versus 71% who did so when the Democratic label was included.
Fifty-nine percent of GOP voters said they supported the $1.9 trillion stimulus package; 53% of GOP voters who were told it was the Democrats’ plan still backed it.
Sen. Joe Manchin
Yet one of the Democrats’ own threw another monkey wrench into their efforts. You guessed it – Joe Manchin, who said he still wouldn’t vote for the plan unless the weekly unemployment benefit was lowered from $400 to $300. Okay, so that state is heavily Republican. But look at what the polls showed – Republican voters’ support for it. So many people in poor states vote against their own interests, unaware that they’re doing so or simply beholden to an idiotic right-wing ideology. Perhaps Manchin understands that. But wouldn’t you think he’d go all out to persuade them that legislation such as this is good for them?
Instead of objecting to the size of the unemployment checks, why didn’t he oppose the income parameters for those receiving the $1,400 stimulus payouts? The top income levels of recipients are $75,000 for Individuals, $120,000 for single parents, and $150,000 for couples. What are the big majority of people with incomes that high going to do with their checks? I’d wager they’ll deposit them in the bank or invest them. They don’t need that money, and it’s not going to help the economy.
With the Senate evenly split at 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, and Vice President Kamala Harris on hand to break any tie vote on legislation, Manchin can foil every effort by the Democrats to enact legislation to move the country forward. And he’s too worried about his job not to do so. You’ve heard of RINOs — Republicans In Name Only? Well, Manchin is a DINO — Democrat In Name Only.
Hello, West Virginia! Any politically astute and ambitious Democrats listening? Manchin needs to go.
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