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Taxing the rich.  It's an idea whose time as come, but the message can hardly get out.  We here at the TaxTheRich2012.org / Mike Strimling for Senate campaign first established the website for TaxTheRich2012.org in July 2011.  Disappointed that Obama had extended the Bush tax cuts, and the utter surrender that surrounded this issue, we thought it was time to remind the public that rates had not just been 39%, as Obama now proposes, but actually twice that on millionaires - even in the time of Nixon and Eisenhower.

Then the Occupy movement came, and we thought surely that there was a groundswell to bring back the days when people were not afraid to stand up on their hind legs and protest the gross increase in inequality that has stemmed from 30 years of tax cuts for the rich.  Polls show that 70% of people would vote to tax the rich.

Our object in this campaign for Mike Strimling is to have a place on the ballot for voters in the US Senate primary to protest that inequality and vote to tax the rich.  

We have to mention, however, that there has been a lack of contributions for this campaign. Probably, the oxygen is being sucked out of contributions to progressive campaigns generally by the sort-of-kind-of-Democrats - like Obama and Feinstein.  We just couldn't see, when we formed TaxTheRich2012.org, that we should instead contribute to campaigns of Democrats who vote for Bush tax cuts or where there seem to be no principles and a weak response to the virulent Koch Brothers/Tea Party propaganda.

Of course, there are good reasons why we don't have the contributions that Feinstein has. Or even 1/10,000 of her contributions.

We are not a campaign of a sitting Senator.  We also are representing the interests of people who make less than $200,000, and who thus have other concerns (how to pay tuition, how to retire, how to make car payments) rather than contributing to a campaign, even if they do believe there should be tax hikes on those who make over $250,000.  The perennial problem is that those who have the money to contribute to campaigns are millionaires eager to keep or increase their tax breaks (which end up taxing the rest of us and our children with huge debt and fees). The more it costs to run TV ads, the more people with large wallets are able to influence the process to favor them.

And we are in a country of citizens who are propagandized not to see their own interests:  we are taught to think that we or our kids may make millions if we don't tax the rich, when in fact America has lately become a place with far less social mobility than most industrialized countries (BECAUSE of the tax system that subsidizes education for the rich and defunds public schools and public universities).  The facts are gathered at TaxTheRich2012.org.

Also, we had active labor unions with large memberships in the 1918 to 1981 period, who could offset the rich corporate donors and supported the candidates who set tax rate up above 50% to the 70% to 90% range for corporate dividends. Now, millionaires are paying 15% on those dividends.  And labor unions are a tiny part of the workforce - a pity - even if they would give.  Of course, those labor union contributions are probably also going to Feinstein and Obama.

It would be nice, anyway, to get the word out to California voters that all of them will have a chance to vote for steeper taxes on the rich on the June Senate primary ballot.

But it takes money even to make small publicity.  Putting our Candidate Statement in the Ballot Pamphlet, calling for taxing the wealthy, just by itself cost over $5000.  Any other publicity is going to be expensive.  We get a lot of emails asking us to pay to get our name on door hangers, signs, robocalls, etc., for a price. (Those don't come from the Democratic Party and they are simply ads.)  There is no public financing of campaigns here!

So, we've heard that the way to get contributions is to ask.  We'd appreciate whatever you can give.  We have buttons to push on our website at TaxTheRich2012.org to contribute by Visa card and ACT Blue.  

We get a lot of visits lately but, to tell the truth, virtually no contributions.  If anyone is motivated to help us get this campaign publicized, we'd appreciate anything you can do.  Linking us on Twitter or facebook or to your website would be great.  And, not to be pesky, but a few dollars to help defray the expenses of this campaign would sure help.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tax The Rich - a question (0+ / 0-)

    I am willing to go to your site and read your information depending on the answer to one question. How does the information on your site treat the Tax Reform Act of 1986? TRA86 was such a fundamental change in the individual code that marginal tax rates prior to 1986 have no relation to marginal tax rates after 1986. Any thoughtful discussion of tax rates need to help the reader put historical tax rates in perspective.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Thu Apr 12, 2012 at 05:32:30 PM PDT

    •  We take your point - (0+ / 0-)

      We take your point about 1986.  But the so-called flattening of rates in the 1986 Act didn't really make much sense. The fix was in, to make it seem like the rich were going to pay taxes without deductions, but soon all their deductions plus new ones crept back in.  The middle class never benefited.

      First, look at its main sponsors, Dan Rostenkowski, who was thereafter indicted for corruption, and Reagan, whose team made no bones about their goal of lowering taxes on the rich.  Bill Bradley, in the Senate, was another guy like Reagan - an entertainment guy: someone whose salary had spiked during the time he played basketball, and who was shocked by having to pay suddenly higher taxes without having a long history of family wealth, the same as Reagan had been.  Most people paying those high rates inherited their wealth and it is just a subtraction from the amount they get for not doing much of anything except collecting rent and dividends from trusts (which also should be taxed directly on their wealth).

      Secondly, Congress soon had to add new rates on the rich just to keep the bond market from spooking.  That happened during Bush I, even before Clinton, and Bush responsibly signed that bill.  The 1986 Act thus changed within a couple years.  It had to.

      The fact is that the top 1% of Americans own as much as the bottom 90% - that's where the money is.  Just 400 billionaires own as much as the bottom 60%.  Just the interest each gets on that wealth per year is larger than the yearly income of anyone below the 96th percentile.  The bottom 80% don't have it.  They now split only 15% of the assets of the country while the top 20% have 85% of the assets.  The middle class only rarely have years where they make income substantial enough to be taxed (plus, they pay much larger parts of their income to payroll taxes and sales taxes than the rich, not to mention paying increased fees, tolls and tuition for every thing else).  On the other hand, the entire system of government is responsible for providing protection and value to the assets of the rich.  Without roads their property would be worthless, and without a stable and solvent government with its legal system, their assets would lose all value.  The bottom 85% have no real assets other than those that would have intrinsic value (like their home or bicycle), whether or not the government was insolvent.  Economists generally theorize that the rich should pay much more because they get much more. In the current tax rates, the rich pay less than the middle class and the poor - who have little or no assets to protect, comparatively.

      Thus, the 1986 idea of flattening rates was actually to raise taxes on the middle class and the poor.

      So the 1986 Act's temporary lowering of rates on the rich was an aberration better forgotten in any analysis of taxes.  Flat taxes and sales taxes are taxes on the middle class and poor, plain and simple.  Not to mention that the sudden removal of tax deductions for real estate in the 1986 Act caused a sudden bust of the commercial real estate market, which in turn caused savings and loans to fail - costing the taxpayers over $200 billion during the Bush I administration (a much bigger bailout at more real cost to the taxpayers than TARP or the Obama stimulus).  Changes or flattening of tax rates and removal of deductions must be done gradually over a long period or they cause such sudden shocks and other unintended consequences.  

      On the other hand, raising tax rates on the rich can be done immediately.  It will have comparatively little effect on the main street economy.  The rich will simply pay the deficit with money that they now lend to the government in Treasury bonds.

      •  StimlingSenate - that was a long answer (0+ / 0-)

        to a question I didn't ask. My question was how does your site treat the TRA86? Does it use pre 86 marginal tax rates and try to compare them to post 86 tax rates understanding that TRA86 was a fundamental change in the code?

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 12:18:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The rates that we emphasize are 1940 to 1981... (0+ / 0-)

          After 1981 we started on this destructive course of deficits and debt.  Prior to 1981, there was at least a principle that taxes should balance the budget.  LBJ had even put in a tax surcharge in the 1960's to pay for Vietnam because of the theory that deficits would overheat the economy.  Even though it was honored in the breach, we often came close to balance.  After 1980, all bets were off.  The rich basically lost all responsibility to the U.S.  Their tax cuts in the 1980's discounted the debt that is caused whenever the people who have the largest wealth and incomes get huge reductions in taxes (the incomes of the bottom 90% being relatively small).  The 1986 Act was certainly no better than the prior Reagan tax cuts at balancing the budget.  At most it was supposed to be "revenue neutral," according to its sponsors, at a time when the federal government was still bleeding $300 billion deficits during a recovery.  Also, in our view the 1986 Act was wrongheaded:  there should be a progressive tax system, and deductions are not necessarily a bad thing if they encourage socially responsible behavior (such as charitable giving, home ownership, investment in plants and equipment, etc.).  The code to go back to is 1980, not 1986.

        •  ...and just to be clear.... (0+ / 0-)

          The 1986 Act is not called out separately on the website because it was part of the same syndrome of cuts of the Reagan and Bush eras that got us into this mess.  The 1986 Act had a different rationalization for cutting the top rates, but the effect was the same - it put us on the road to where we are now, where the poor and middle class have higher taxes and fees, and the rich pay comparatively little.

          However, you will see the 1986 Act's effective tax rates clearly on the charts on the website.  Look on our site at TaxTheRich2012.org and you will see this.  I'm wondering:  do you have some sort of personal connection with the 1986 Act?  We see no real issue with it, since our campaign seeks to bring back the 1980 tax code, indexed for inflation.

          •  Tax The Rich - do we get back all the shelters? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nextstep

            Prior to TRA86 anyone could lower their effective federal rate to nearly zero by investing in legal, economically sound tax shelters. The effective rate for the top 2% was typically about half the top marginal rate. Your data would be much more honest if you compared effective rates. The data would show that the changes have been much less severe if we looked at what taxpayers actually paid, rather than the statutory top marginal rates which are a fiction. We have never had effective rates for the top 2% that even approached 50% and with the current code it would be uncharted territory to have a top rate at the 50% range. To suggest that we should go back to the rates of the 50s and 60s and that we have data that shows the positive effect is dishonest. We have never had high rates and the post TRA86 code that stripped out all the shelters subjecting much more earned income to potentially higher taxes than at any time before 1986. I hold you to the same standard that I hold people here at DKOS who write on tax policy. Anyone who compares pre86 top marginal rates with post86 top marginal rates without at least mentioning that the individual code went through a transformational change in my view is being disingenuous. No one needs to like TRA86, but some discussion and analysis is essential. What you are proposing is 1980 rates, but with the post86 code, and you recommend it without informing your reader that those two rates would not be an apples to apples comparison.

            My own personal story regarding TRA86 is that I had built a very successful business that was wiped out with the stroke of a pen as President Reagan signed TRA86. Fortunately it was no surprise and our business went through an orderly closing, but it was very sad and all our employees and the founders lost their jobs.

            "let's talk about that"

            by VClib on Tue Apr 17, 2012 at 05:59:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Any equitable society that wishes to remain (0+ / 0-)

    that way, and to preserve a meaningful democracy, needs a steeply graduated income tax and a steeply graduated tax on inheritance and other intergenerational wealth transfers.  Good luck.

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