The Billionaires Are Getting Nervous

Bill Gates and others warn that higher taxes would lead to lower growth. They have their facts backward.

Comments: 259

  1. Higher taxes mean that consumers have less money to spend. In a consumer driven economy, which the US is, this means lower growth

  2. @Lars Unless of course those taxes are used to promote a more productive workforce via better education and healthcare.

  3. @Lars The higher taxes being proposed would be on the very, very rich, not on the mass of consumers. The money would be spent on things that we need such as infrastructure, education, and health insurance, all of which provide better lives and good jobs. The new taxes on the rich that are being proposed would have the opposite effect from that which you predict.

  4. "Decades of episodic tax cuts have left the government deeply in debt" Really? We have a spending problem not a revenue problem. The government is deeply in debt because politicians on both sides or the aisle, beginning in 60's, discovered they could buy votes by promising a lifestyle we can't afford. You can't have your cake and eat it too. Do we need higher taxes. Absolutely. Say much higher marginal rates on those with AGI's in excess of 10 million. But that absolutely must be coupled with spending reductions. Especially in the entitlements sector.

  5. @Mark Two points: The Trump tax cuts exploded the deficit, not the expansion of safety net programs. The inequality gap has grown enormously. Investments are needed in infrastructure, health care, education, child care, and climate change remediation. Both challenges can be addressed with greater contributions from the wealthy.

  6. Social Security and Medicare are not entitlements!

  7. @Mark "Especially in the entitlements sector"? Clearly, you have never tried to pay rent in Boston on a full-time salary of $20,000. Or had to choose between buying insulin for your diabetes and paying your electric bill. Or any number of other examples I could mention. Those "entitlements" like food stamps and Medicaid are sometimes the only thing keeping people from homelessness, or death. Government exists for only 2 purposes: public safety, and public welfare. That is exactly what our taxes are for. And do not put Social Security and Medicare in the definition of "entitlements" - everyone who collects Social Security or is eligible for Medicare paid for it with a lifetime of payroll deductions. How about reducing government handouts to corporate farmers, oil giants and pharmaceutical companies, all of whom make billions in profits each year? Or, we defund unnecessary military boondogles? Or, how about we stop spending money on a ridiculous and disastrous border wall?? Republicans only preach lower spending when Democrats are in power. When Republicans are in power, like now, government spending increases by magnitudes, but only on their personal pet projects, while teachers, libraries, and infrastructure go wanting. You need to take a hard look at the facts before you denigrate millions of hard-working and deserving Americans.

  8. I will say this again, 90%+ of wealth accumulated in the last decade was because Bernanke/ Yellen printed trillions of dollars and these billionaires were the first to get this welfare money. All of this wealth was unearned and hence the discontent. It would behoove all of them to admit how much of their wealth was by simply squatting on assets and for Bernanke to make them whole 1000%+ Go Warren!

  9. @MS While I applaud your confidence in Warren, I question your attack of the Fed as the cause of inequality which is more a political result of a breed of republicans intent on giving power to corporations, the finance industry and the already wealthy. This includes tax avoidance policy for exclusively the wealthy, Citizen's United that allows them to buy political candidates, decades of work on gerrymandering engineered on winning elections with a minority vote despite a different popular vote, and lobbying efforts like ALEC which pack wealth concentrating policy directly into draft legislation that is received by a senate that only considers gop sponsored bills. The wealthy are spending their money not on investment that lifts all boats like R&D, infrastructure, taking care of their employees, the environment and the like. They are spending it on what will keep them from having to do anything that they don't profit from exclusively. If anything, the wealthy hate the Fed because it does not act in their interest as much as they can get Congress, for instance the finance industry wanting to raise rates so banks can make more money more quickly in the past few years.

  10. @MS Yeah - something that can't be directly blamed on Trump. the problem goes back to Reagan, Clinton helped a lot, Obama, less so except that the FED was emasculated by the GW Bush war and recession. Instead of currying favor with these folks-- charity?? diverting $$ to causes they believe in... does this include the over human reproduction problem?? didn't think so... endless market... I don't really understand much of it, but as people destroy more and more "NATURE" -- the wax palms currently -- so as to provide more whatever for homo no so sapiens -- well guys, it's your problem really.... I am on my way out... the last quarter of a century. GREED IS NOT GOOD. (nor are shareholders)

  11. What are you taking about? None of this makes any sense

  12. The key to using higher taxes is to use that money for much needed things, more money spent on education, infrastructure, etc. Our country is woefully behind on internet connectivity as we see in my home state of Vermont. We need high speed internet desperately. And we need to fund education programs throughout the country which will benefit EVERYONE. We need a New Deal or we’re done for.

  13. @Jordan Davies From my experience -- we spend too much on education -- (way too many lawyers, businessmen, even MDs). Education needs to be revised with emphasis on self-reliance and doing for oneself. We educate people to consume and be helpless. BTW high speed Internet is NOT a solution to problems... and in fact info maintained online is often incorrect. One has to go to the library -- and frankly much more money should be spent on keeping these open late and on community centers -- nice ones for everyone. Sort of how churches used to be.

  14. @Jordan Davies Same here in Maine. Good comment by the way.

  15. @Auntie Mame If there are too many doctors, how come too many of us have to use Nurse Practitioners or PAs for our medical care because there aren't enough general practitioners or Internists? You are in NYC which has public transportation and most likely more than one library. In many states and even some of their larger cities there is no decent public transportation or library access. Should our schools teach us all how to maintain our automobiles (should we be fortunate enough to own one), to grow our own food, etc? Today our social system has created a huge number of homeless people who somehow do manage to survive by living under freeways or in the woods, scrounging in dumpsters for food and/or panhandling when they can't get work. They are the self-reliant one, couldn't you say? Do you use the library for internet and do for yourself, or do you live in a high-rise with a doorman, have your groceries delivered and have hired help? In my experience it is those who have the most who are often the most self-righteous about how others should live!

  16. In a country where the actual deep state consists of billionaires and millionaires who control the levers of Congress, it will be difficult to raise their taxes. trump is popular for the exact reason that he lowers taxes, removes regulations and give corporations and banks free rein to profit as much as they can. Compare wage growth to investment growth since the tax cut. Wall Street prospers with trump, Main Street is having going out of business sales. Democrat or republican, the wealthy have a stranglehold on the country.

  17. @Zeke27 You are correct, but - there are only a few billionaires. There are 200 million of the rest of us, and if we vote in accordance with our economic interest, not in accordance with the lies those billionaires are trying to feed us, then Congress - more particularly the Senate - will no longer be comprised of members who owe their jobs to the billionaires, and change will be possible.

  18. @Zeke27 Aside from immense power that such amount of money manifest and be able control millions of people and basically reign in in our way of life, I also think it's terribly vulgar to seat on such fortunes when most of the planet lives in poverty and despair. Gates greatly contributes to humanitarian causes, but still the amassing of such obscene fortunes is not a healthy way for society to grow and develop. Hope NYTimes will publish my comment, since they've been ignoring my comments for several days, for no apparent reason. Does this happens to you fellow commentators???

  19. Go to see the TIMES taking on this issue. If Bill Gates reads on the topic of Growth and the poor performance in recent times of the US economy he would find no backing for his argument; growing inequality has had the reverse effect. It is critical for the United States to face 'reality' and very likely it will -- at last.

  20. Gates is simply touting a modified trickle down Voodoo economics started by the darling of the 1% Ronald Reagan. What have the tax cuts over the years gotten America? The rise of a class of wealthy .01% not seen since the time of the Robber Barons of the late 19th century. CEO pay ratio vis a vis workers who make their companies profitable through increasingly year by year productivity at all time highs. Worker real income static since the 70s (Reagan elected in 80 is no coincidence). As we’ve seen by the latest round of tax cuts passed by the Reagan disciples in the GOP, the vast majority of tax savings go to CEOs, dividends and stock buy backs. Yet the good folks in the red states keep drinking the Kool Aid so nothing will change. Thanks Biil, but no thanks!

  21. @winthropo muchacho : Ad we workers stated under Reagan and is still true. The only thing that trickles down from the rich is wet and yellow.

  22. It is not even clear that Bill Gates is sufficiently in touch with reality and up to date enough to man a Help line at Microsoft let alone be an expert on economic growth or the proper role of government. He is unable to accomplish his self imposed mandate to spend his wealth because he cannot come up with a sufficient number of good ideas (of which he approves) to actually give away $10 billion dollars a year philanthropically. Maybe, he should have paid more to others on the way to his billions and lightened his burden.

  23. @Patrick Moynihan : That $10 billion a year would help his local, state, and federal govern,nets,though, wouldn't it? :-)

  24. @Sheila Absolutely. I don't want to be too radical. But, I also don't want eponymous foundations bloated with cash from many people's work ending up in one person's hands to go unchecked. It is time to check the validity of the tax shelter status on these potentially, over-grown personal travel agencies.

  25. Bill Gates is a smart guy let's ask him. How will we bring back a strong middle class? How do we avoid becoming a banana republic with a wealthy ruling class and a large poor class-- essentially the serfs? How do we develop a viable educational system so we can tackle the problems like our environmental crisis? Let's ask Mr Gates how do we develop a society that does not depend on charity but on independent, self reliant, educated people. Let's ask Mr Gates if he were born today if his family and society could afford to support him the way he was supported from birth on to become the man he is today? Let's ask Mr Gates if he understands that Americans in their despair are turning to Trump to avenge their despair ? Let's ask Mr Gates how do we support democracies?

  26. @Hopeful : At the same time we might ask those who favor taxes on wealth, as opposed to income, what happens if huge amounts of securities and real estate are suddenly placed on the market (to raise cash to pay taxes) and there is not a balancing crowd of prospective buyers with the necessary spare cash to buy what is offered for sale. What then? This must first be thought through.

  27. @Penseur "... what happens if huge amounts of securities and real estate are suddenly placed on the market (to raise cash to pay taxes) and there is not a balancing crowd of prospective buyers …" Raise taxes incrementally (say 4% per year) until tax rates are back to where they were during Eisenhower's reign.

  28. @Hopeful Lets also ask Mr. Gates if tax cuts cause him to hire people. I had my own small manufacturing company with 40 employees. The only reason for me add employees was if I had more business. Tax cuts went into my pockets for a new BMW and vacations to Europe. Also, if we raise wages, for example the minimum wage, then people have more money to spend. That will increase demand and GDP and jobs.

  29. A relative of mine worked for Microsoft several years ago. I say "worked for them" in a very general way. He was not hired full-time and given a steady wage and good benefits; rather, he was made to register as an independent contractor and take all the risk himself. That's how rich folks like Mr. Gates make their billions: by not providing properly for their workers or paying their fair of taxes.

  30. @Gary I agree, and this phenomena was directly fueled by the little noticed change in IRS regulations on what defines and employee. In the past, to qualify for independent contractor status a person had to control or have the right to control what they do and how they do his or her job. I can't believe all the people currently classified as IC's actually decide what and how they do their jobs.

  31. @Gary. I have a slightly different take on this. Our son works at MS in Redmond, and they have been wonderful to him. When their second child was born only one month after he joined the company, they gave him 6 months paid paternity leave. Though he lives in an adjacent community, the MS bus ferries employees to and from the campus, saving him the hassle of driving (and extra carbon of many cars with single occupants). The campus emphasizes multicultural perspectives. His salary increased enormously over what it was here in OK. I do think Gates and other billionaires need to pay more tax. I’m in favor of Warren’s wealth tax and increased marginal rates. I also think the US needs to adjust the way it computes tax on corporations, to remove the scam of booking profits in low-tax countries. But that doesn’t mean that MS is in every way a pariah. Would that other companies adopted its more enlightened practices. One other important issue not mentioned in this editorial: Bill and Melinda Gates will say that they have done enormous good through their foundation. True, but the choices made are THEIR choices. I’d rather tax them appropriately and let US, through our government, make choices regarding needs.

  32. @Gary This is a complex subject for which there are no black and white answers. It might be worth mentioning, however, that some people don't want to work for a big corporation like Microsoft, and prefer working for a small independent company. If Microsoft can give them some work, then that is all to the good. These folks perhaps feel they get the best of both worlds: independence plus the security of tying their income to a reliable company. It's also worth mentioning that Microsoft has 144,000 full-time employees. Yes, they use contractors, but that is not the whole story.

  33. higher tax rate at the top end yes. closing a lot of loopholes (like the opportunity zone fiction in trump's tax bills) yes. taxing wealth (assets) that was already taxed (as income) - no. and what happens when billionaires all depart to grand cayman so that their money is not taxable, like trump moving to florida so that new york won't get his tax money? a large scale version of what is already happening as a result of the SALT elimination and millionaire mansion taxes in NY, a market slowdown with housing at its lowest and weakest in 13 years. warren does vilify the wealthy. sanders does as well. too strident. too punitive.

  34. @Aubrey Taxing UNEARNED income that was "created" with "already taxed" earned or unearned income is STILL income. So YES, tax capital gains at the very same percentage that all other EARNED income is taxed. People everywhere still pay "taxes" on their income that has been already taxed. The myth that someone should be somehow exempt from that or taxed at a ridiculously lower rate because they used some of their capital in an "investment" and won is the epitome of selfish indignation.

  35. @Aubrey I always tell the same sad tale about how I got my MS in engineering at a state university when tuition was free, graduated with zero debt weighing me down, worked for years gladly paying taxes so the next second-generation immigrant kid could get the same opportunities. Guess what: they didn't. What happened to the mindset that America helps its talented youth instead of fleecing it? If we still had that mindset, maybe Mr. Gates wouldn't have so desperately needed so many H1B visas to fill his tech work force. The Bill Gateses are always going to be fine--they come from educated families and get a boost from day one. We were supposed to be a nation that spread opportunity around. That's all I'm saying--we are not the country we were fifty years ago. We prey on our populace. Cheaper to manufacture elsewhere? Okay, Americans, enjoy your new jobs flipping burgers. Want an education? Well, nothing worth anything is free--let's find you a nice for-profit college that will qualify you to manage the burger flippers! Our national mindset is not what it was. Bill Gates did not pump most of his billions back into America--he generously went to poor nations. While I applaud that, Seattle has become a tent city. We've turned into dog-eat-dog nation, fighting for scraps. Municipalities against municipalities, states against states. It's stupid, and will eventually turn us into a nation of billionaires and serfs.

  36. When the International Monetary Fund suggest the American tax plan wasn’t successful, was it based on all the other countries, or just in America? Judging on how poorly the rest of the world economy is doing compared to America, (including trade wars) it could be argued to be a rousing success. While Europe and the world stands stagnate, with negative savings rates, America is thriving. We will never know what would have happened if America continued on its previous path, but It can surely be stated our tax cuts have stabilized our economy compared to the rest of the world.

  37. @Jay An, no. Why would they? They examined the American tax plan in regards to AMERICA, not as a contrast and comparison to the "rest of the world." Tax cuts have not stabilized anything other than rise further the 0.01%'s earned and unearned income.

  38. @Jay The United States is now ranked 43rd among 195 countries and territories for life expectancy and projected to decline to 64th by 2040. This is successful?

  39. @Jay Trickle down doesn't work. The economy was moving well before trump so one might argue that the foundation installed by the Obama administration is the real cause of the prolonged growth. Now with trump's tax cut we've see an explosion of the debut and that's happening while we have a strong GDP.

  40. Jamie Dimon seems to think that “rich” and “successful” are synonymous. I’d stipulate that Mother Teresa was more successful than Jamie Dimon. Bill Gates thinks that taxing the rich can stifle growth. I’ve yet to hear anyone declare that he or she won’t create the next iPhone because the taxes would be too high. Many people have grown rich, not through their genius and work but through tax breaks which are paid for by the rest of us. While I don’t believe in soaking the wealthy, I do believe that it benefits all of us when we have a healthy work force which is willing and able to provide its services. If that means that the .1% have to pay more then so be it. I didn’t hear Bill Gates complain when Microsoft was recently given billions in tax breaks which will be paid for by the middle class. Now maybe he can return the favor.

  41. @Avatar I agree with almost everything you've said, except this: "Many people have grown rich, not through their genius and work but through tax breaks which are paid for by the rest of us." There simply is no evidence to support this statement. Tax cuts have not made anyone rich, period. Cutting income taxes by a few percentage points doesn't create millionaires or billionaires. It simply gives already wealthy people more money to spend or invest, which can often generate additional income. Additionally, fewer than 10% of millionaires received any kind of inheritance, meaning that 90+% are entirely self made. For the sake of argument, I'll keep it simple and use round numbers. If I am taxed at 50% on the dollar and that rate is dropped to 45% on the dollar, then I'll have $5 more dollars in my pocket for ever $100 I earn. That's a 10% increase in my take home pay. If I invest that $5 for every pay period and earn the market average of 6% per year, that $5 will turn into about $2,500 in 15 YEARS taking into account inflation and taxes. Now let's apply that math to someone earning $10 million per year. The vig becomes $500,000 in additional take home pay per year and the result of investing it for 15 years is an additional $10 million. That's great money, but hardly qualifies as evidence that a tax cut "made that person rich".

  42. @Avatar Mother Theresa used the majority of the money for building convents..........not serving the poor. Her saint status is a myth.

  43. @Julie Interesting.

  44. What Republicans and other proponents of low taxes always fail to mention is that the "growth" in the economy of the United States for the last 40 years or so has increasingly gone to the relatively small number of people at the economic apex of America. When billionaires talk about slowing growth as a result of higher taxes, they are talking about lower income FOR THEM. Remember, the benefit of Trump's tax law goes to the very wealthiest and to corporations to the extent of about 83% of the savings over the long term. There is no appreciable "trickle-down" of wealth. We would all be better off if billionaires and millionaires received less in the way of tax favors, and more wealth in America were redirected to serve public ends and public purposes. Yes, the very wealth will complain about this, since they have largely lost any sense that they are part of a larger society to which they have some obligations. Tough.

  45. It's time we faced the reality that a good day on Wall Street is a terrible day for 90% of all Americans. - The richest 10% own 84% of all stocks - The minimum wage in 1968 was $1.60. If it had kept up with productivity gains and income distribution, it would now be $21.72. - In 1979 the income of the .1 percent was 47 times that of the regular American - NOW it's 220 times greater. - Leaked emails reveal that Citigroup picked nearly all of Obama's cabinet. (And it's not much different for Trump.) We're seeing the results of a plutocratic economy that only works for the top 1%. Between 1978 and 2016, CEO pay rose by 937 percent. By contrast, the typical worker saw "painfully slow" compensation growth—11.2 percent over the same period. Fact: Only 39 percent of Americans could afford to pay for a $1,000 setback. In the meantime, we have a congress with a nearly nonexistent approval rating and almost a near-total incumbency rate? The question we should all ask is why is the US government acting in direct contradiction to the will and interests of our working people?

  46. @Michael Sorensen Its worse than you think. 20% of the stocks and 43% of bonds are foreign owned. Currencies are global. This is not inherently bad, but when you've got petro-states, dictators hiding assets, oligarchs of all sorts, there's no way to stay clean when the money's sloshing around. "Globalism" is just money laundering on a large scale.

  47. @Howard Loewen Yes, if by "judgment day" you mean the 2020 election, and by "God" you mean voters.

  48. @Michael Sorensen "The question we should all ask is why is the US government acting in direct contradiction to the will and interests of our working people?" That is the right question, and the answer is "money in politics." Our political system is now one in which only the very wealthy and those anointed by them are able to run and stay elected. Listen to those like former Senator Olympia Snowe who wrote beautifully (and tragically) about how money and fund raising have made statesmanship impossible. Until we get the money out of politics, which is possible if we have enough support, we will continue to have a country run by and for billionaires.

  49. During the high point of American growth and expansion, the Government was taking in enough money to invest in great infrastructure, research, and and other public goods. That tax money went to stimulate the economy. Tax cuts are neither good nor bad, and debt is neither good nor bad. It depends what you do with the money. Borrow money to invest in Apple stock at $5, and the more you borrow, the better.

  50. Bill Gates is repeating the trickle down mantra that has never worked. The government needs money. The middle class is busy trying to stay middle class after paying for housing, healthcare and education. What is his plan besides keeping his billions for himself?

  51. @Sue Thompson, He plans to give it to charity when he dies. Why?

  52. “in 1975, the top marginal tax rate on personal income was 70 percent” We need to gate away from the term raising taxes by “restoring” tax rates.

  53. @mlb4ever Key word: MARGINAL. 70% MARGINAL tax rate means you're not paying 70% on EVERYTHING.

  54. @mlb4ever No one paid anything close to 75%. For example, my boss used to invest in military planes that could fly in hurricanes and deduct 3X the deduction of what he owed.

  55. @mlb4ever Like that! New phrase to use in discussions: Restoring the tax rates!

  56. Your editorial failed to show the other side of the equation, during that period of tome when the tax rate was 70%, there were a myriad group of deductions, which effectively lowered the rate, how about doing that calculation??

  57. @Marty Goldman I think the general thrust is in this" "In 1961, Americans with the highest incomes paid an average of 51.5 percent of that income in federal, state and local taxes. Half a century later, in 2011, Americans with the highest incomes paid just 33.2 percent of their income in taxes"

  58. @Marty Goldman Yes that is true...the inevitable LLC or a person becoming a "corporation". If we are to reform the tax code than all areas will have to be reexamined and brought into the 21st century. One would also have to consider the growing use of AI and automation and how that should be taxed....since we all will be displaced by big tech and not able to pay taxes at the rate and amounts we do today. Obliviously we all know how Jeff Bezos feels about the matter as he has already laid that foundation.

  59. @Sgt Schulz And they still managed to avoid paying those taxes. If you hide your money in offshore accounts, line your assets up so it looks like you are generating income, can avoid taxes forever. We'd see that if we could look at Trump taxes.

  60. The Billionaire bubble is nervous? Too bad. They can afford anything but can't be bothered to pay a bit more in taxes in order to help everyone.

  61. What did all these ultra billionaires think was going to happen? Ever since labor has demanded more of a cut of the fruits of their labor, people like Gates have done everything to make that end. No matter what has happened: higher taxes, depressions, recessions, low GDP, high GDP, etc they have made money at a much higher rate than the average person. They convinced workers to give up benefits and pay and collective bargaining because it would be better for them. And the argument for tax cuts and for taking pay and benefits away from labor has always been : "If you let us keep more, we will be in a better position to give you more". Well Gates became as rich as he is because he took as much as possible and shared as little as possible. And now everyone gets to see how far ahead Gates has gotten. And they realize they are stuck back at the starting line. And they know he didn't share all along when he could. And when the natural response to the wealthy not sharing is for the lower classes to elect people to take that wealth and share it, they cry foul. I guess if Gates couldn't have become a nauseatingly rich man, he would have gotten a job at Burger King instead. I guess there are no super wealthy people in high tax countries. You know where the citizens are much happier. Time to take more from the poor and give it to the rich. It will work this time. We promise.

  62. @Walking Man Actually there are billionaires who live in and developed their businesses in Scandinavian countries. Yes, some have run to tax havens like Monaco, but then you have to live there in crowded conditions on a steep rocky hill even if you have a multimillion dollar apartment! Or you can go to the Caymans and enjoy regular hurricanes.

  63. Look at the tax code. You need a college education in oder to deal with it! That's the actual problem. Everyone would argree that a big boss should pay more than 16% income tax after all loop holes and special hiding places have been utilized, but to desire 70% again for capital gains is rotten to the core! If anything, the USA has a sales tax problem that needs to be standardized. At least a 20% sales tax straight accross the land is needed to help pay for vital services and infrastructure. Don't bring the argument that poor people couldn't afford it, because they can't afford it already! A fair sales tax would allow for more local programs to help the poor elevate themselves to a higher level.

  64. @William Perrigo "Do't bring the argument that poor people couldn't afford it, because they can't afford it already!" A "straight 20% sales tax across the land is needed." Have you ever gotten to know a poor family? Do you have any idea the burden your proposals would cause? Oh well, they can always eat cake.

  65. Deficits went way up under Reagan. It is the reason they put the debt clock in Manhattan. We got 16 Million jobs. Deficits went way down under Clinton. In fact Clinton balanced the budget, zero deficit. And we got 23 Million jobs, almost 50% more jobs than under Reagan. W Bush took the balanced budget from Clinton, zero deficit, and gave Obama a whopping $1.4 Trillion deficit. Also the worst recession since the Great Depression. And with two "tax cuts for the jobs creators" we got 3 Million jobs. Obama got us through the Great Recession, cut the deficit by almost 2/3 to $550 Billion. And we got 11.5 Million jobs, almost 400% more than W Bush. That was with the “jobs killing” Obama-care. And 20 Million people got healthcare. Now after 8 years of Republicans relentlessly railing against the debt, the Ryan / McConnell / Trump tax bill will increase the debt from $600 Billion to $1 Trillion. To be paid for by our children and grandchildren. Every Republican senator voted for it. Not one Democratic senator voted for it. JOBS: 2011 - 2.09 Million 2012 - 2.14 Million 2013 - 2.30 Million 2014 - 3.00 Million 2015 - 2.71 Million 2016 - 2.24 Million 2017 - 2.06 Million 2018 - 2.6 Million now revised to 2.4 Million

  66. @Independent Before Reagan, American was the World's greatest creditor. After Reagan, American became the World's greatest debtor.

  67. @Independent Brilliant post!

  68. Corporate powers are certainly getting their airtime to message a unified opposition to Warren. It's no surprise. They all argue that progressive taxation will slow growth. Business people at large, in America, seem to be convinced that trickle down economics is a sound theory for economic growth and fair distribution of wealth in America - despite all real evidence to the contrary. Corporate oligarchs in America are enjoying a huge tax cut for over a year now, and many of the most profitable businesses, like Amazon, pay zero taxes. In fact, Amazon and others refuse to expand and provide new jobs in communities without first extorting major concessions from those communities. Meanwhile the annual deficit reaches 1 trillion - even Fox News Reports - and economic growth stays quite slow. The truth they keep hidden is that the largest expanse of the middle class occurred post WWII under Eisenhower and subsequent administrations up until Carter and Reagan who implemented progressive taxation at levels considered outrageous today. There were still plenty of millionaires in that day, and plenty of wealth for the richest citizens, but not the obscene wealth enjoyed by so many of these oligarchs today. These oligarchs fight change at their own peril. That's not a threat. It's a fact that populism is rising in American because of obscene wealth inequality. A day will come when they regret it because societies only tolerate extreme injustice for so long...

  69. @PJ Once neo-liberalism took hold 40 years ago and all the politicians who have enabled it, well it is very hard to put the genie back in the bottle....clearly the elites have successfully broken that bottle. What gets me is that these people and corporations are so self serving, and narcissist that they do not want to provide a legacy to society...obviously they do to their families, but not the the country as a whole. As they say you can't take it with you so make the world a better place and pay your fair share. Plus the bottom line is that our country will collapse from within if we do not change these unsustainable practices.

  70. @OWS veteren Yes, it's mind blowing. Gates is one of the good ones - one who does invest in some of the poorest societies on Earth. I hope someday he comes around and realizes how much good he could do here by simply not opposing progressive policies.

  71. Tax Rate Talks Don’t Tie in Balanced Budget? It seemed so easy for both republicans and democrats to vote to raise our spending in the last year which also contributes to our borrowing woes... How about no taxation without accountability?

  72. @Al There are plenty of spending hawks constantly auditing government expenditures.

  73. @Al Can we address funding first, and then priorities?

  74. It's somewhat a matter of how we define growth. Is it at the level of society, of institutions, groups of individuals, or at the level of the individual. Or, all of the above. So how do we insure growth without prejudice or preconditions based upon assumptions and assessment of worth that one or another wealthy individual may base their contributions of money upon? We pay taxes. The we place trust in our ability to support our larger community through good governance.

  75. Will keep asking and asking: how many more house do the folks need? How many more yachts? How many more private planes? How many more private islands? Why not support infrastructure, the environment, public health?

  76. The wealthy, corporate class has no problem availing themselves of the resources this country provides to make their money. But when it comes to paying their fair share they balk. All the while the income divide in the U.S keeps growing and the middle class is being wiped out. How many billions to people need before they are satisfied?

  77. @Erika wow, clearly you have no idea how Gates and Bezos among others made their money. They created something out of nothing with vision, determination, focus, talent and drive. I agree that Warren is scary. Her rhetoric screams, penalize those who have dreamt big and innovated. This doesn't mean that the tax structure doesn't have to change. It has gone the wrong direction under Trump. But, Warren's plans and her ideology and her bullying public shaming is scary to would-be and current entrepreneurs and the corporate world alike . And, in the Trump vs Warren scenario, Trump will win.

  78. @Julie I have a niece who just received her patent on an invention (a device used in computer-assisted surgery.) As far back as I've known her, she never once mentioned taxes as being one of the scary things that might hold her back. Maybe the next time....

  79. In this community, we collect money from all of us to pay for things are that in the common interest (e.g., infrastructure, military, social services). If I have to pay 100% of the next dollar I earn, I am declaring my selfishness and lack of care for our community if I call it quits and go home. We need to deeply understand the degree to which we are all in this together.

  80. Let me understand the position of the wealthy? If they pay less taxes - they will be wealthier, and that will accrue to the benefit of those less wealthy. It sounds like a revival of trickle-down economics - a thoroughly debunked economic theory.

  81. @MS According to the brilliant Mark Russell, wealth does indeed trickle down, from Bill Gates Sr. to Bill Gates Jr.

  82. This is the very problem i have written about in past post to this forum. People are complain that it is not fair. So what must be done is a flat tax rate for all. The way to make this flat tax work would be to include all our debit in one tax. The other radical idea is to include businesses. Meaning that they are people and will be taxed like people. We can still have the same basic deductions with a few tweaks but what will be different is that since this tax would encompass all the different ways that money is earned we will eliminate loopholes. We will also create a larger base that revenues would be taxed. The first $20.000.00 you earn no matter how wealthy is tax free. With more money to spend the economy will rise from the bottom instead of waiting for it to trickle down. It's called evaporation! that is when money is spent and then flows to the top and those who have a good product will see profits. That is the way a capital system is suppose to work, People who have a good product do well. The stock market now rewards people who can cut wages and corners the most to create a profit instead of creating a good product and seeing it take off.

  83. As someone who works in a federal revenue service, I can say you have absolutely no idea how taxation works. What you're suggesting makes zero sense.

  84. @C. So work for someone else, I have been self employed for 40 years I know exactly how taxes work. Everything that I stated is true. The FICA tax is THE number one tax that holds back hiring someone. I pay over 15% in FICA, I have to match what ever my employs pay into FICA. If there was not a cut-off the % would be less and me and my employees would have more money to spend. That would raise all boats not just the wealthy.

  85. It seems as though Mr. Gates is having second thoughts about paying more tax. Luckily, he only gets one vote - just like everyone else. Make sure your vote counts. It has never been more important.

  86. @David G. - "Luckily, he only gets one vote" Citizens United says his free speech is multiplied by billions to influence the votes of others so that his one vote is multiplied many times.

  87. @David G. He gets the one vote of his own, plus he can buy votes from the Russians if he needs them. He can just pay Julian to round up some helpers and start to influencing as many sad sacks as possible. You and I are honest, patriotic Americans, and probably no amount of money could "buy" your vote, right? Well, if you offered to put up that $5000 Tuffshed for me, I might be willing to mark a different box than what I intended. But if you had the resources and enough money, I'll bet you could pay enough people to sway a close election in a crucial district, or even a State. The secret is in knowing at a granular level who to approach and how to approach them. Cambridge Analytica knows what I am talking about. But Google and Facebook and Amazon and Twitter all understand how to slice and dice the demographic to sell "stuff", and today especially, Candidates for President are really just more Stuff to sell.

  88. They have their facts backward? Has the entire editorial board forgotten about international news and the past fifty years of economic history? Early retirement, free inefficient healthcare, and other subsidies are not going to raise growth at all. Pointing out the US has a much higher tax rate n the fifties and sixties are irrelevant. Taxes were paying off huge war debts. If modern tax increases were to go to paying down the debt than I could understand. Instead, Democrats are talking about not only about huge increases in tax revenue but also experimenting with how much they can borrow until the market freaks. This is not rational, in a sense, they are trying to pay off voters in exchange for the long term financial health and competitiveness of the economy. Ultra-high public spending did not work in Europe and will not work for the US. After massive increases in government, spending economies were crippled by slow growth for decades in some cases. Even now Europe continues to underperform the United States. Furthermore, there is no logical reason why more public spending would actually increase growth. Growth at a fundamental level comes from increased efficiency in the economy and technological progress. It's extremely disheartening to see the editorial board of the NY times wrote this opinion piece. It shows a lack of objective analysis and relevant knowledge on a critical issues. Political fads should not be confused with economic realities or past data.

  89. How do you justify the opposite though? Instead of paying for wars, we now cut taxes while we are at wars, because that will somehow increase revenues, but it actually hasn't worked out that way at all. You lambast the editorial staff for embracing a "political fad," but you are simply embracing an earlier political fad of lower taxes leading to increased revenues, which as was correctly pointed out in the opinion piece, has proven time and again to wishful thinking. Maybe you remember "voodoo economics?" We are still waiting on the tide that is supposedly going to lift all boats.

  90. @2-6 The wealth tax didn't work in Europe and certainly won't work in a global economy. The NYT Editorial Board is a highly partisan group. It will make an argument for whatever the democratic nominee is pushing.

  91. @2-6 Good response- really like the reasoning why tax rate high in the 50s and 60s. Bill Gates has changed the world. He is an innovator, business and a true philanthropist. He is not opposed to tax hike. As a common man, even, I would be concerned to go into government run healthcare industry (enough bad experience with DMVs and USPS). Why is it OK to Tax anyone to support this initiative that does not result in growth? I get it if it is spent on early education, climate change, improving living conditions of poor to pull them out of the cycle. The editorial board needs to think from the center.

  92. Bill Gates doth protest too much. In 1961, there were 4 to 11 billionaires. In 2019, the US has 621 billionaires, the highest number in the world. The net worth of the 400 richest Americans was 2.9 trillion dollars. The five richest Americans earn 2% of the US GDP at $435.4 billion. The median income in 2017 was $31,786, and according to the BLS, the median income for a full-time weekly salary is $900 for the average American worker. Out of that must be paid food, rent, medical care and the most basic necessities. Easterbrook gets fired from McDonalds as CEO and gets an exit package of $42 million plus 23.8 million in stock options. More than 50% of fast-food workers rely on public assistance programs like food stamps. What is wrong with this picture? Employees are now considered disposable and as a means to keep overhead low to satisfy shareholders. It is a travesty and denies those who work hard their human dignity and renders them unable to pay for basic needs. No one is vilifying the rich but record corporate profits do not benefit workers. The inequality and income disparities are at record highs. The wealthy have benefited from the four generous tax breaks in the last four decades. The middle class- not so much. There must be some fairness built into the tax structure to allow people who work hard to live a decent life. That is not too much to ask. Is it, Mr. Gates?

  93. It’s ok. We can vilify the rich for this scheme (scam.)

  94. Bill Gates was lucky - he benefited from software technology that does not require legions of workers to manufacture the product - so the founders made huge amounts of money that in earlier times would have gone to the community at large. All those workers buying, building, starting businesses, etc. make the economy strong, and they pay taxes for stuff like infrastructure that makes us richer. By keeping that money to himself, Bill may think that he is doing great philanthropy. But we, the community, should be making those calls, not one person. And the stack of cash he is still sitting on is money that doesn't go for things like making sure Trump's "base" have jobs and a safety net. Who knows - maybe if Bill didn't have a fortune there would be no "base" for Trump.

  95. So now we want to go back to the wonderful year 1961? Segregation, women staying home etc Taxes do matter. In Minnesota at the highest state and federal tax bracket plus social security and the added cost it makes no financial sense for my wife to work as a nurse bringing home pennies on the dollar. On the flip side as empty nesters it frees her up to do whatever she wants. The gover will forgo the tax revenue

  96. Exactly why do we NEED billionaires? Bill Gates pays his social security taxes in full before noon on January 1 and has a tax holiday for the rest of the year.

  97. Does he even pay social security taxes? Not if he has no wage income - if he just has capital gains, there’s no social security taxes on that.

  98. Agreed. Higher taxes would lead to lower growth for Bill Gates’ wealth.

  99. Interesting that the Editorial Board decides to highlight that the government needs "more money", but blames it all on a need for more tax revenue. Missing is any discussion about how unbelievably inefficiently the current gigantic budget is spent, or how much of that budget goes to unnecessary investments made in order to perpetuate the tenure of people in Congress (i.e. pork-barrel spending). People should stop assuming the answer is always more revenue for the Federal Government. Perhaps a little more confidence in how that money will be spent would reduce some of the "anti-taxation" attitudes of Americans.

  100. @Chris, The government DOES need more money, though it worries me that it is a propaganda arm of that government that is trying to make a case for it. All your criticisms are spot on, though the real reason for the need relates to the unbridled spending of the "Defense" Department and their obscene budget, coupled with the gratuitous tax cuts for the corporations and the 1% [of which Bill Gates is one] I have not seen a mention of our crumbling infrastructure for a very long time, nor have I read of ANY attempts to repair it. But what intrigues me with the warning is the expression of "lower growth." The only indicator I see growing in this country is the Dow Jones. Everything else is going down the drain. As for anti-taxation attitudes, the middle class is the ONLY one paying them and we are fed up.

  101. @Chris Maybe we could spend less on Trump's travel to rallies and his golf outings. Just cutting those expenditures would save hundreds of millions!

  102. Everyone in a community can be misled on some occasions, and some people in the community can seemingly always tricked, but can we afford to allow the continued subversion of a valid and viable social contract for all? The necessary number and mix of people required to hijack a community and separate it from its values takes only a few people pulling the right strings. I would rather hear how societal goals can be achieved (and are being achieved) from those who can (and do) show it in terms a wise and well educated fifth grader can trust and understand. From that perspective, Gates does not deserve the stage. It’s a shame it’s given to him, especially for the low price of uttering a few words to the press about Warren sitting down with rich people.

  103. Many complain that increasing taxes on the rich is unfair. They fail to take into account that the very rich benefit the most from government-funded military and infrastructure (roads, etc.) expenditures that help produce, protect and transport their products throughout the world. What’s more, people cannot live on the wages multinational corporations pay to their employees through their subsidiaries. So local, state and federal governments must subsidize programs to support those low wages. And don’t even get me started on the environmental costs. Bill Gates is a popular, likable figure who will likely gain support among the masses. But he’s wrong on the math, he’s wrong on the philosophy, and he is wrong on Sen, Elizabeth Warren’s “professionalism.”

  104. @Tell the Truth- I disagree- Bill Gates is not likeable. He wants you to think that. He and other billionaires use philanthropy to hide their malfeasance. The Gates Foundation has done numerous good deeds, but that is not enough to hide the truth - they can afford to give it away. It helps their image. And they still have so much play money left over it is sickening. If Gates was halfway likeable before, shattered that illusion this week with his absurd statements about $100bn tax that would leave him, in his eyes, virtually “penniless” with only 6 million. The horror! Not only that, he never clarified that he wouldn’t vote for Trump over Warren. Which tells you all you need to know. The billionaires’ true colors are coming into clearer focus all the time. They could live an enormously comfortable life on, say, a million dollars a year. But, no! I am beginning to think that this level of greed & contempt for humanity is a mental illness. How can you watch so many suffer while you keep racking up money you don’t need? How can you watch the country fall apart while you buy another private plane? How can you claim to be environmentally woke when you own a 50,000 square foot home? Or four? This also goes for celebrities who accept 8 figure salaries for a single film, sports or recording contract, who shamelessly flaunt their greed on Instagram and the Red Carpet. Silly awards. Enough is enough. They deserve the rude awakening coming for them.

  105. Gates' reaction shows that even the relatively noblest of the super-rich want to think they are generous, but that all goes away when the rubber hits the road. He just demonstrated the need for a wealth tax more viscerally than Warren's or Sanders' relatively dry speeches and plans ever could. And Gates is a relatively decent man, by super-rich standards. A more typical example is Cooperman, who breaks down in tears when thinking of the fact that he might lose a tiny fraction of his precious money. Then there's Bloomberg, who is apparently willing to run for president to preserve his money and power. That behavior reminds me of another president, you know, the one who names Towers after himself...

  106. This is all moot (posturing) as long as trillion dollar deficits are accepted as the norm. We are collectively bankrupt and pretending not.

  107. When billionaires see their net worth rising faster than average personal income of working schnooks, things are out of balance. Our economy is going to a plantation model, Taxes in the ranges being discussed will not cause all the billionaires to throw in the towel and stop investing. Until 1986, the highest marginal income tax rate was 70%. And the 70 percent was a cut during the Kennedy administration from the prior 91 percent. Larry Kudlow, when he was on CNBC, always hailed the "Kennedy tax cut" as creating incentives and boosting the economy. Larry, the rate you are ballyhooing as boosting the economy was 70 percent. And the wealthy still sought to invest and make even more money. I fail to believe that a 2 or 3 wealth tax, or other tax on unrealized gains, would cause grass to grow in the streets. Many of these billionaires plan to give a lot of their wealth away. With big tax deductions when they do it. So, instead of the general public subsidizing their donations to the causes they support, perhaps we should direct some of that money to the needs of society as determined by Congress.

  108. This is preaching to the choir for the Board, and selective reading to validate our own views on this end. It is fact that there IS no evidence that the tax cuts have made the US a more vibrant, more inclusive economy, but there is toa strong link to the ever growing monster of inequality, which is the real threat to the American Dream. The reference to Cooperman might have been omitted, unless it linked to an explanation of his and his firm's income, how such entities avoid income taxes under capital gains taxation, and how the sort of speculation - not investment - hedge funds do can make stock markets more volatile. An annoyance: the comparison of total percentage of income paid by the "wealthiest" Americans on taxes between 1961 and 2011: does that include property taxes? Sale taxes? It matters when it comes to understanding. The rate given for 2011 is also actually higher than I ‘d expect, since the very top marginal INCOME tax rate in 2011 was 35%. There is no way I believe that most of the very rich were paying at the top marginal rates. Thus, it looks as if that figure includes more than income taxes.

  109. @cheryl Dear Cheryl:- Thank you for asking these questions. Most of the time, people cherry-pick their statistics and comparisons, which makes meaningful discussion almost impossible. Of course, if you are a die-hard ideologue, meaningful discussion is not the point. Best wishes, and please post again.

  110. Mr Gate is all for higher taxes on the wealthy until that plan gets in the way of him being richer and richer and....

  111. @scott t And for all of the English teachers out there I forgot to put an "s" on Gates. I know, minus 10 points.

  112. It is quite possible redistribution of taxes would increase growth without an overall increase in taxes. A large chunk of Mr. Gates' wealth is stranded assets doing nothing for the economy. But take some from the plutocrats and give it directly or indirectly to the precariat and the economy will rebound. Use the monies to fund infrastructure, mass transit and even filling potholes and jobs will appear like a sea of flowers in the desert after a rain. Raise the minimum wage to $15.00 and a large percentage of that increase will be spent, creating more jobs. Secure health care for all and remove linkage between health care and employment and nascent innovators will spring up free from the fear not of illness but of immiseration because of it. Since Reagan the promised golden shower of growth we have received has been more akin to the purported golden shower of the Steele dossier. The only relief seen has been to the overfilled bladders of those who provide that which trickles down upon the rest of us. It's time for a new direction.

  113. I'm not a billionaire, but I'm getting nervous, too.

  114. @dc. Nervous? Yup. Being one medical problem from bankruptcy does that for many of us now.

  115. @Gerard Nervous that a candidate like Warren will get Trump re-elected.

  116. Point by point, this editorial makes a solid case for the wealth tax, yet seems powerless to slay the disproven ideas of right-wing ideologues. The trickle-down effect, oligarchy disguised as meritocracy, and private-always-better-than-public are just a few of the misguided tropes that have poisoned the land since Reagan. Their virulence endures. Not even common sense seems to hold sway. Middle class wages suffer 30 years of stagnation while billionaires enjoy multiple multi-million-dollar homes, private planes and fully-staffed yachts. I know, I know: innovative, smart "job creators" deserve their wealth -- and they do indeed, but not at the obscene extremes of inequality we now see (and saw during the Gilded Age). With all due respect, when Bill Gates gives up ten of his one hundred-billion-plus bounty, he'll still be doing rather well. Meanwhile, our highways crumble, commuters are immobilized in gridlock, and the climate continues its relentless assault on living things.

  117. Automation plus low wages will lead to a model of regressive tax policy, subsidizing automation and ensuring ever higher profits. Governments have the responsibility to improve the lives of people and promote stability with balanced policies. Those who are benefiting from the infrastructure, energy, educational system, transportation and consumer infrastructure, use of government services such as defense and diplomacy to help access global markets, and to generate profits, have to pay their fair share.

  118. Bill Gates is out of touch with reality as are most billionaires. They truly have no concept of what it’s like to scramble to make a house or car payment. He doesn’t have to worry about his healthcare - he can get the best that money can buy. He has multiple homes across the globe. I’ve never been much of a Bill Gates fan anyway.

  119. The essential problem with the GOP tax cut philosophy is they want no strings attached. They “assume” (wink wink) that the magnanimous benefactors will optimally reinvest that extra money into exactly the areas that the American economy needs to develop. But they don’t. We need to re-attach “the strings”. If you rebuild that factory in the rust belt, you can keep your low tax rate. If you use that extra money to invest in China, you’re going to be taxed at the full rate, and more. That’s hard to argue against.

  120. As Bill Gates said, it's one thing to pay $10 billion but quite another to pay $100 billion. Quite frankly, I'd trust Gates' ability to spend that money more than I would trust our federal bureaucracy. Warren's wealth grab will be the turning point for Americans. Those who believe it's "their money" and they are entitled to it will be on one side. Those who believe people should get to keep the money they've earned will be on the other side and will be horrified by that other group

  121. @AACNY : I disagree. I trust government more than I trust private industry. Private industry is dedicated to maximizing profits for their top executives and shareholders. PG&E is a private company that provides natural gas and electricity to Northern California. They skimped on safety and maintenance for years while paying their senior executives top dollar, while claiming to maximize shareholder profits. Result: a massive natural gas explosion and multiple wildfires, all due to poor maintenance. The highly-paid executives keep their bloated salaries, the shareholders and the taxpayers foot the bill. No, I’d rather have a public power company, government-run. They would be no more inefficient than any other large organization. Remember that the Dilbert comic strip is written about a private company.

  122. @John M PE&G doesn't operate in a vacuum. California has myriad problems. Many attribute this to its misguided social and civil policies. The wildfires are an example of environmental policies that have had unexpectedly negative consequences. It is now prohibitively expensive for a Californian to clear his/her property of dead trees. Logging restrictions to protect the spotted owl had consequences down the line.

  123. @AACNY - "Those who believe it's "their money" and they are entitled to it will be on one side. Those who believe people should get to keep the money they've earned will be on the other side and will be horrified by that other group". Sorry @AACNY, what you are describing here is all the same side. The real problem here is to quit electing those who run on fear of the government and the "other" and who promote (and take campaign money from) the interests of the Uber-Rich instead of the needs of the middle class. We must again start trusting the "government" to identify problems and solutions and start questioning politicians with hidden agendas and lack of ability, honesty and competence to get the job done. Does anyone really think that donald trump is such a person? His entire life history indicates otherwise. Does Bill Gates really have the varied life experience to recognize what is needed for the greater good? I'll take an honest, intelligent, hard-working Citizen/Statesmen/Politician/Educator hopefully with some Military experience any day of the week. Someone with a diverse background, the ability to learn from mistakes and compassion for our fellow humans. Dividing us is easy, Uniting us is hard.

  124. There's more of us then there are of them. We can do this the easy way or the hard way.

  125. @wfw, they can incorporate and move offshore to the Caymans.

  126. @wfw OK - that really helps the cause - What does that even mean?

  127. The Trump/GOP new tax plan removes about $4K from my disposable income (lost deductions) as someone in the northeast with a mortgage and small business (closed actually due to the lost of the tax advantage). So buying that new computer? Mr. Gates may want to look at the consumer economy.

  128. @poslug $24,000 standard deduction for a married couple works out better than deductions for 90% of taxpayers...I think that's fair...

  129. Let's focus on sustainability instead of growth. If we don't, the Earth will decide for us.

  130. If you look at a chart of productivity, you will see that in the mid 1980's, productivity took off. This is primarily the result of automation, and getting people to work 60 hours or more a week and pay them for 40. The profits generated by that increased productivity went to the ownership class. Remember the ownership society? That was Reagan's big push. At the same time as productivity took off, we slashed taxes for the owners. The result was that the owners got to keep the fruits of the increased productivity and the rest of us got wage stagnation. There never was a trickle down effect. The rich got richer. We refuse to raise the minimum wage. We destroy organized labor. We don't enforce the 40 hour work week. We don't provide healthcare. Since we won't pay people more, the only way to return the largess of our increased productivity is by taxing the owners and providing services for the people like healthcare and daycare and education and transportation infrastructure with that money. But we won't do that either because we think that is socialism and those that made it big should get to keep the money. Taxation is then the only way to return the increased productivity to the working class.

  131. @Bruce Rozenblit Agreed... but it's not about labor in the USA, it's an international market.... and we make as little as possible in the USA -- pillows, and car liners from what I see advertised. Maybe these CEOs should be called out as the traitors they are. Once it was legal to make computers in China -- zoom.. NAFTA was not great for American workers. Things are expensive-- because " all those shareholders (who invest in stocks because banks pay no interest these days) DESERVE those dividends!!! (yes, sarcasm.) What to derail the consumer economy - consume less of everything,

  132. Maybe those billionaires would have more credibility if they didn't abuse us so badly at every opportunity. Their wealth gives them more power than any of us and they back politicians that oppose every measure to advance the public welfare.

  133. The man with $106 billion and a 66,000 square foot home that cost $63 million to build is concerned about paying more taxes.

  134. @Ed Did you notice the proportions? Okay, take away 90% of what he has, he is still going to have the same house. His lifestyle will change in no way. But what is done is taking property from someone who has created wealth and give it to politicians to waste and pretend that they are helping people.

  135. @Mac that is the usual stock, cynical, anti-government statement that Americans have been fed by the right wing since before Reagan but definitely amplified over and over by the Reagan worshippers. Maybe instead you should all put your energies back into the statement that Americans made famous around the world: Government of, by and for the people. NOT government of, by, and for the plutocracy.

  136. @Mac Do you ever think about our government agencies? NASA, NOAA, DOE, EPA, CDC, NIH to name a few? They need to be funded. Our schools need to be funded. Our infrastructure needs fixing, especially all the bridges we built in the sixties that are wearing out. Do you ever think about our water infrastructure? Our dams and reservoirs? Then, of course, there's our military. There's no 'pretend' here. We're a nation. We need to keep our house in order. If you own a house, then you understand that upkeep costs money. I'm tired of nonsense comments like yours.

  137. If Bill Gates is worth 100 billion dollars he can afford to pay 99 billion + $1 in taxes. It is obscene we even allow BILLIONAIRES.

  138. @David Your whole premise is backwards. We don’t “allow” them. We live in a free county and you want to ban them. What gives the government that right? Our rights as individuals do not originate from government.

  139. @David Gee, any other human liberties you want to ban? Perhaps being poor is equally obscene, and we should ban behaviors that lead to poverty.

  140. @Bob Krantz Yes, being poor is obscene though I don't know about "equally" and yes we would have a lot less of them if we "banned" or taxed billionaires out of existence. The poor go without, in part, because the wealthy refuse to contribute their fair share. And yes, they refuse to contribute because thems that gots the gold makes the rules. And that has to change before they destroy the economy again. Think of it like a car engine where money is the oil [lubricant]. If it's not getting out to the engine, it seizes. And that's gonna happen again. Tax billionaires. They are a cancer on a healthy economy.

  141. I don't think the billionaires are getting nervous. They pay lots of people, accountants, lawyers etc. etc. to look after their affairs. Even if rates go drastically up, it will be a long time before the loopholes are closed and the professionals will find new ones. The Buffet Rule is called the Buffet Rule for a reason. Warren Buffet thinks the ueber rich should be taxed more. But most of those rich react as most people would, they seek to protect their own interests. That is human nature. Bill Gates has probably handed away to charity more than the government would take, but he does that of his own volition. People hear taxes, including the rich, their knee-jerk reaction is to be against. That does not mean that tax rates should not be raised, but human nature is human nature. Hard to expect these people to applaud when you suggest to take what they consider their money.

  142. @Joshua Schwartz The consider it their money because it *is* their money. All Americans should be worried that there is a group who feels entitled to that money. Wherever did this group get the idea that they can help themselves to other's property like this? It's horrifying to see, quite frankly.

  143. @AACNY Many made that money by cheating, having the best tax attorneys, making full use of tax loopholes, not paying their fair share, hiding it in overseas tax heavens, and paying dismal salaries. Even their charities are not taxed instead they can write them of. It is truly a disgrace. Most are greedy and have no idea what is going on in their own country. They live on their estates, or private island, or overseas in their second and third homes, fly in private jets, etc. They have no contact with the average person. So why should they pay for infrastructure? (they don't drive) public education? (they send their kids to private schools) Universities? ( their kids will have no loans to pay back on a dismal salary). They are totally untouched and clueless in understanding the average working class citizen. They are masters in using the media spreading fear and hatred to divide us (Hm Hitler was good at that too). They truly believe they know what is best for us citizens. I hope the average working class will wake up soon and see them for what they truly are. The 99.9% need to become more vocal in demanding more from the billionaire.

  144. All the Super Rich have to do is plow money into creating jobs and the money they use for business will not be taxed. Instead they have no incentive to invest in new business ventures because they have more money than they can ever spend and instead park it in a Savings Account, Second Homes across the world or in the Stock Market. Although I'm not part of the one-percenters, when I was in business and the tax rate was 50%, I was incentivized to put money I would have had to pay in taxes back into the business or create something new. If the money had not been taxed I would have not invested more into the business.

  145. One or more of these billionaires needs to be brought on to a television interview. Maybe Katie Couric. They should be sharply questioned and explain their fear before the public. Maybe Warren Buffett will show up. I believe he is one of the few that agrees that the wealthy have to be taxed. How will a Bill Gates, who we all want to respect, respond to the article’s well known fact that tax cuts have not spurred growth or led to greater well being for the rest of working America. Also, does Melinda Gates also share his fear or is she more amenable to a wealth tax. They also can’t be unaware of the latest billionaire craze of banking all their value into landed assets like famous art woks or real estate that they know takes the money away from working in the economy. I just hope that they somehow don’t know that there is no chance for us. That the mass of people world wide are headed for poverty and starvation and that it’s time for them to build their castles in the mountains.

  146. @Brian It is time for them to pay workers who work for these wealthy oligarchs a truly decent wage. We need universal healthcare, increase taxes so the average citizen can get the same education as these billionaire sons and daughters. They have access to a great education without being burdened with student loans the average person has a difficult paying back. Billionaires and Companies have backtracked on providing present day decent wages, health care or even help with education, like they did in my time when I was working and earned a decent salary.

  147. Taxes are assessed against......wealth. The wider the income inequality, the less wealth that exists at the lower 90%. So the private sector can either provide more of what they have to those below, or the government will have the choice of taking away from the 90%, thus widening the inequality further creating a pretty unpleasant society, or taxing the 10%. It really isn't rocket science. It always has been 'pay them now or pay them later'. For Gates to simply say 'I don't want to pay at all" shows you exactly the kind of human being all that money has turned him into. Oh I know he is very everyone except the people that got him where he is. And let's not forget the tax break he gets for that charity.

  148. Mr. Gates is right. At this time, many more people are motivated by profit than they were decades ago. Today we hear over and over again the names Gates, Bezos, Buffet, Diamond, Zuckerberg, etc. and always in the context of their immense wealth and power. They essentially shout: "This is success!" Unfortunately this inspires inventions like cell phone apps, high-speed trading, and other non-essential products instead of truly necessary inventions.

  149. Brilliant opening! Thank you for keeping this issue front and center. And staying clear on(1) just how wealthy the truly wealthy are and (2) the validity of the case for higher taxes on the highest income and wealth. Seems there are some/many of us 99.9% who like to dream that the wealthiest "earned it," whereas it's just a team effort of those in financially powerful positions to bring in the earnings (often by keeping low wages low), mutually beam at their prowess, tell each other they are worth it, and vote the egregiously high $ packages. They are living in an echo chamber, even when they spend time and $ towards improving society's problems.

  150. The rich are so comfortable and so used to being comfortable that any hint that things might change fills them with terror. Gee, I think I could be really happy with $1 billion, much less $100. Shame on them. Andrew Carnegie believed wealth was meant to be given away (for the greater good) by a wealthy person during his or her lifetime...a novel idea these days.

  151. @CJ Yes, the irony is that Carnegie was supposedly not so good to his employees. (I guess I should research that.)

  152. @Auntie Mame He was a Robber Baron par excellence! Wait’ll you read about his feud with another RB, Henry Clay Frick. Ya can’t make this stuff up!

  153. Gates risks negating the incredible force for good he has been across the world. He needs to meet with Elizabeth Warren and assure his admirers that he continues to share their values. Perhaps he can convince her that his additional $6B / year can be better used through his foundation. But to worry about whether he has 10B or a 100B is meaningless. No one should have to shoulder that kind of burden.

  154. Perpetual growth is overrated, the new lowered tax rates resulted in stock buybacks, no raises and 1.9% GDP in the last quarter. I want these executives to be nervous. It's time they learned to share the wealth, the work and the sacrifices it takes to live in a just society. If they're scared of progressive taxes, ideas or equality, it makes me more inclined to vote for the woman who makes them so. She acts as a modern-day Paul Revere alerting us to act because "the skittish are coming".

  155. All you have to do is look at how the Republican tax cuts nearly bankrupted the state of Kansas and led not only to no growth but also people leaving the state to know that the 1% need to pay more. If not for higher tax rates on the wealthy and business, Eisenhower could not have built the interstate highway system that led to much business investment and prosperity. We need to invest in this country’s infrastructure and in the technology to avert the damage from climate change. Those investments require more tax dollars, and the poor and middle class are already paying as much as, or perhaps more than, they should. Certainly we need to look also at what we’re spending, but it requires government to tackle the big projects we need, such as investing to put electric cables underground in fire-prone areas because electric wires spark fires when they go down or upgrading our aging electric grids so that foreign actors cannot hack them. Just giving more and more money to the billionaires is impoverishing our country.

  156. A key economic driver today did not exist in 1975 - globalization. American investors and entrepreneurs had almost no alternatives to the US market. China, Russia and half of the world were communist countries, and Europe was very protectionist and traditionalist with no encouragement for entrepreneurship and upward mobility. All of this has dramatically changed. America also has an unusual "barrier to flight" of people and capital. First, culturally it is difficult for most Americans to envision living permanently abroad. Second, our unique tax system that "chases" US citizens around the world (most other countries tax based on residence), makes the process of decoupling from the US mothership very costly and irreversible. One must renounce the US citizenship, which very few would do. Nobody is going to take such a drastic measure if income taxes go up a notch. However, current proposals on a punishing wealth tax might just change the calculation. Taxing someone's wealth as opposed to income at any percentage, let alone >5%, would really make a lot of people seriously think the unthinkable - maybe ditching the citizenship is the only way out of such a morass. The media paint a caricature of the wealthy skewing the system in a way to perpetually and undeservedly have huge gains. However, there are many who have done their life's work, have a sizeable nest egg in safe investments and would only see their wealth disappear year after year under current proposals.

  157. @Henry K. My understanding is that Warren's wealth tax is aimed at those with more than $50 million in assets. People who've managed to put together a nest egg over the course of their working life have nothing to fear from that kind of tax.

  158. @Winston, That's now. What happens when the money runs out or they shelter it in a place like Dubai? Then they'll come for the common millionaire. You know, the guy who went to engineering school and bought a couple of rental properties. Inflation is your friend, It doesn't take much.

  159. @Henry K. It takes our military to make the wealthy feel secure in moving assets abroad. Remove that, and where will they go? I remember not too long ago fear of a medical brain drain to Saudi Arabia ... want to live there? Be my guest!

  160. As much as the NYT and its readers would like to raise taxes on productive Americans, there is no evidence that, once received, the US government spends that money well. In fact, the government is the most wasteful and inefficient vehicle for the allocation of precious resources. Public education is the perfect example. Decades of rising property and state and local taxes for public education have resulted in the highest $ spending per pupil in our history the net result of this spending has been worsening student performance, lower math and reading skills; the added money raised from taxpayers was used to increase teacher salaries without respect to student outcomes. And so it goes with government waste and excess. According to the NYT, there is no problem that cannot be solved by taking someone else's money and throwing it at their problem du jour.

  161. @Toni you are wrong. Public education is the pillar of education. It is a problem when it is entirely falling on local municipalities to pay for it. The poor neighborhoods have less money as they pay less taxes simply because their income is dismal. Many have two, three jobs to pay for housing, food, healthcare "if they even can afford it". It is a disgrace when a rich country like ours has the worst education in an advanced nation, from poor areas. Homelessness has increased since the Reagan era. Life expectancy is one of the worst for a rich country like ours. Look a bit deeper and you will find the reason for this. A person like you just hears the sound-beats and is scared that maybe the billionaire can't afford another private plane or another summer/ski house. Things have truly changed for worse since the 70s. I've seen how the wealthy became exponentially more wealthy since the 70s. The average working class person has to work longer hours than in the EU; has dismal vacation time when compared to living in the EU, dismal healthcare and 1.4 trillion in student dept. It is the rich kid who has the time and money to be innovative. The middle and even less the poor kids look at a future burdened with debt and seemingly less and less hope. Are we surprised when they will eventually come out in force and demand change? You can only fool the people so long. Our master orator in the white house does the fooling so well until those people wake up too.

  162. That is right, there is little evidence that education, healthcare, social security, police, firefighters, infrastructures, public health policies, the military, treasury, public research grants, art subsidies, border control, diplomacy, child care, etc... do anything good for society. How sweet must it be to live in a dreamland!

  163. @Toni Ignorance is bliss, and watching Fox “News.”

  164. I have remarked several times here that in 1950 the tax rate was 91% on incomes over $200,000; actually I think it was higher at one point, maybe 94% on $300,000. Yet we managed to pay off our debt for WWII, while the economy steam-rolled along. And, of course, the biggest problem with wealth is that billionaires have too much power and, therefore, dangerous.

  165. @eclectico, Oh god, for the last time, NO ONE PAID CLOSE TO 90% BACK THEN! The nuber of deductions was staggering.

  166. The federal tax system is broken. It has become a haven for exemptions. Why are people taxed after allowed deductions? Forget corporations for a minute. What if there were no deductions after, say $60,000 of income? What if charitable donations weren’t tax exempt? If there weren’t allowed deductions, the wealthy wouldn’t try to roll over income into a column that defers or eliminates taxation. Get rid of allowed deductions, and then see what happens? If more revenues are needed, raise the rates. Taxing companies at higher rates should be the last resort. It would be better to tax the stock holders profits than the company. That would restrain wages, reduce jobs, stunt expansion, and encourage locating to countries with lower taxes and wages.

  167. @Jay, If you think there are a lot exemption now, you should seen them before 1980.

  168. With higher taxes, millionaire and billionaire business owners face a choice...pull the wealth out, claim it as income and pay higher taxes on it or reinvest in in the business and claim it as a business expense and get a tax write-off. Which one are they going to choose? That's a big reason the US was so prosperous in the 1950s when the highest marginal rate was over 90%.

  169. We all understand that the skyrocketing costs of housing, healthcare, and education are not a cause for concern to billionaires. But the middle class appears to be riven between those who respond by assuming greater and greater debt, while others simply adjust their lifestyle downward. When the Debt group hits that wall, there will be such a populist explosion. Until then, their spending habits are actually worsening the economic situation for the others. Slowing or reversing the disastrous impact of healthcare, education, and housing debt appears to be the most reasonable method of arresting the socio-economic decline created by the economic order the billionaires approve of.

  170. This is a disingenuous editorial. The critics of the wealth tax, by and large, aren't against increasing taxes on the rich and aren't against having the rich pay their fair share. I, for one, would welcome measures resulting in a much higher effective tax rate on the ultra wealthy -- measures like a higher capital gains rate on those whose primary income is from realized investments gains and dividends. What the critics are against is the idea of taxing what you have rather than what you make. They're against the idea of forcing people to sell businesses to cover tax bills. They're against "looting mansions." They're against the idea of vilifying a class of people. They're against selective taxation, rather than progressive taxation. So, NYT Editorial Board, don't make this debate seem like class warfare. It's not. Critics of the wealth tax are making arguments on the merits and demerits of the policy. There aren't heroes and villains, as you would have your readers believe.

  171. @RAC So you think the wealthy are overpaid and that's the problem we need to correct? No, not true. First, the issue is not being overpaid (although some certainly are). As an example, Warren Buffett makes a relatively small salary yet remains one of the richest men in the world. Many business owners don't make much of their income from salary. The issue is that the ultra wealthy pay a lower effective tax rate than those who earn far less. The ultra wealthy should of course pay much more -- a rate that would represent their "fair share" in a progressive system. The problem is that the wealthy have a mix of income that's highly weighted to investments which (a) compound and (b) incur a lower tax rate, as opposed to wages, which are generally consumed and incur a higher tax rate. A solution that would actually address this problem while taxing what you make rather than what you have is to levy a higher capital gains rate for those whose income is primarily from investment sources. But if you want to address c-suite pay, a wealth tax won't do that. There is already a progressive income tax that hits those making more at a higher rate than those making less. If you want to sanction what businesses can pay employees (again an entirely separate issue), we can enact pay ratio laws. Like all policies, there will be benefits and drawbacks, but it can be done.

  172. @RAC Wrong, they got wealthy because they owned stock in their own companies.

  173. @Al Look, the wealthy accumulated their assets in some cases via extraordinary pay - arguably excess pay, some of which should rightfully have gone to their employees. So "looting mansions" is really clawing-back some of these excess wages.

  174. Warren’s battle with the wealthy and her demanding of overtax is a very dangerous proposition. Oh sure it sounds great to working class struggling to buy their medication but Mr. Gates is correct. There is a point of fairness and Warren crossed the line. The thought that “billionaire should not exist” is indeed anti-American. It’s what drives many people to make great innovations and advance our nation. With Warren that will be stifled. With Warren there could be a brain drain as well as a dollar drain to friendlier skies over seas. The rich live their money and will protect it, they moved whole factories over seas to save a buck they will do the same to save their tax dollars. Instead of America coming up with great innovations it’ll be foreign countries with American know-how. Gates is right Warren is bad for the country.

  175. @J Clark You’re mixing up Warren with Sanders. Warren is not battling the wealthy out of some sort of jealous revenge, but because that Gates form of capitalism, she feels, is unstable and inefficient. Read Thomas Piketty.

  176. @J Clark The editor of The Economist warned that Warren wants to rewrite American capitalism. Her proposals would effect 50% of all American businesses and be a disaster for our economy. Combine this with her massive rewriting of our health insurance, and it's safe to say the economy would come to a grinding halt.

  177. While I am all for higher taxes on the wealthy, it is the degree to which they are taxed which should be the issue, and the penultimate paragraph gives me pause: "Notably that is less than Mr. Gates earned from his investments. Under Ms. Warren's plan, there's a good chance Mr. Gates could get richer." If a person cannot profit from their investments, why would they invest? And is the goal to ensure that the ultra-wealthy get less wealthy every year, i.e. no longer "get richer?" We need more discussion about whether increasing taxes on the wealthy is meant to raise funds for government programs, or to be punitive for becoming wealthy in the first place. The same questions need to be asked of proposed income taxes, proposed wealth taxes, and proposed increases to the inheritance tax.

  178. It seems to me that there can be a middle ground to this debate. Surely, most people want to live in an America that is fair, where people can enjoy social mobility but do not have to worry about deprivation if they, for reasons of bad luck, structural problems or lack of interest, are not as ambitious as people like Gates. I once asked Gates what his philosophy is when I was fortunate enough to meet him in 2010. My philosophy is a school of Buddhism that emphasizes the middle way, in a way that is still radical and transformative. I think our country needs to allow social mobility but still provide assurances that we will care for each other.

  179. The billionaires are getting nervous. Yes, they are, but about the wrong topic. Everything we are and do and have rests on the back of the environment and that is being exploited, plundered, polluted and poisoned. Basically there is a world wide war against Mother Earth. Eventually everybody -- billionaires included -- will go down with Planet Titanic. Go ahead and raise their taxes a little, say start with 10%. Surely they could handle that without going on full offensive and having a nervous breakdown. I just wish some billionaires would actually surprise us by maybe opening some real, honest-to-God recycling centers, or adopting a river to clean up, or donating space for community gardens, or supporting hemp and bamboo use instead of using plastic or trees, or replanting a forest, or donating a food forest, or working to adapt to and mitigate effects of climate chaos...the opportunities are endless.

  180. @JessiePearl You are right on. I've been reading about the grasshopper plagues in the 1870's in the mid-west. The grasshoppers consumed everything in sight for years and then they disappeared, extinct. I feel like we are the grasshoppers pillaging the Earth. We will also disappear.

  181. Jessie Pearl - Amen! They should be doing everything they can to clean up the environmental messes they have Made.

  182. When the rich are not taxed, they pay in other ways. The relationship between income inequality and violent crime is well established. As violence increases, the wealthy must then pay a 'crime tax' for their security. It can even limit their freedoms. In Guatemala many wealthy 'capitalinos' now live in Cayala, a community where people work, shop and live without needing to leave the walled compound - in other words, a self imposed prison. All to avoid the violence endemic to inequality.

  183. The difference between 2019 and 1975, when marginal tax rates were much higher than they are today, is that in 1975 a wealthy person did not have viable options to avoid paying the high tax rates. Today, with a global economy and the general rise in the global standard of living, wealthy people have the option of picking up and moving to another country with more favorable tax rates (as happened in France and other countries).

  184. @Jay Orchard I wonder how it must feel to have to live in a particular place, a place that perhaps means nothing to you, just because you have so much wealth that you weren't willing to let go of to ease the burdens of the once-fellow citizens you left behind.

  185. Observation number one: the higher earning and wealthier households in the US already pay almost all of the federal taxes collected, and we have a more progressive tax burden than the European social democracies often cited as models. In my opinion, anything like a free democracy cannot survive when a small portion of the population pays for government. Observation number two: yes, past tax rates have indeed been higher, but the editorial board commits a bit of rhetorical deception by not also mentioning the rates on the lowest income tiers. For example, in 1975 the top rate was indeed 70%, compared to 37% today, but the first dollar of income was taxed at 14%, compared to 10% today. And in 1961, the top marginal rate was the infamous 90%, but the lowest rate was 20%--double the current rate. If you want more equitable economic outcomes, instead of "punishing" the extremely successful, how about "punishing" behavior and choices that lead to lack of financial success?

  186. @Bob Krantz According to the WSJ the top 20% will pay an even greater percentage of all taxes as a result of Trump's tax reforms -- 87% versus 84% before. As we learned after residents of high taxed states lost their SALT deductions, in fact, Americans don't like paying more themselves. It's fine for others.

  187. @Bob Krantz so, you want to punish the poor because they are poor? Not everyone is in the position to further their education or compete for jobs in high rent areas. Poor people can't save because they are too busy trying to survive. You can't pull yourself up by the bootstraps if you don't have, and can't afford. boots.

  188. @leigh My provocative point is that if we, as a society and a nation, feel we have the right to control behavior for economic reasons, then this could apply to the poor as well as the rich. How many people end of poor because of foolish decisions? How many people decide to forgo more lucrative jobs and careers because they want to pursue passions for things like art or just living off the economic grid? Should we control these people, too?

  189. The bottom line is that the rich truly believe they know what is best for us. But questions about the climate, our health, our education, environment, wars and justice are made by the unencumbered many, not the few, no matter how well intentioned, no matter how charitable---we prefer a democracy.

  190. A bit skeptical on the dots being connected here in terms of causality. Especially when the study cited for patent holders —which in itself is a narrow definition of innovators (consider for example that immigrants and the children of immigrants are responsible for founding the majority of innovative companies) — contradicts a central point stated in the study itself. “These gender- and technology class-specific exposure effects are more likely to be driven by narrow mechanisms such as role model or network effects than factors that only affect general human capital accumulation, such as the quality of schools.” The mechanisms stated are clearly “role model or network effects,” not quality of schools. Let’s not forget that the internet has entirely changed the game in regards to the access of such “role model or network effects.” This sort of myopic cherry-picking of facts hypocritically goes against the didactic prescription of “principled and factual debate about the details.”

  191. @Tessa "Let’s not forget that the internet has entirely changed the game in regards to the access of such “role model or network effects.” Color me skeptical of the dot connecting in your comment. Internet access is a large part of our neglected infrastructure, with serious negative economic and educational impacts. "Broadband coverage and speeds are an economic development issue in all 50 US states. More than 90% of small businesses are Internet-dependent , and studies consistently link broadband improvement with increased employment. In spite of these facts, broadband competition and growth is notoriously slow in all 50 US states. FCC filings show that 24 million Americans still don’t have access to broadband Internet at home in 2018. Millions more can only get slow, unreliable DSL service. Many of the “dark spots” are in states with large swaths of rural, economically disadvantaged areas."

  192. When Mr. Gates shows concern for “growth” he means growth for the 0.1% of Americans. Most of the rest of us never see meaningful growth. Is it by design?

  193. Could Mr. Gates demonstrate how he leveraged the 2017 Trump tax cuts to benefit the economy, job growth, etc.? Then he may have a leg to stand on protesting higher tax rates.

  194. Two problems with this article. The first is the characterization of a wealth tax as innovative. It's not, it has been tried in at least 14 other industrialized countries and been repealed in six of them. The reasons are varied but, for example, relying on a wealth tax to fund the permanent expansion of various government programs will not work b/c the point of a wealth tax is to decimate fortunes over the long term, meaning the tax revenue received over time from said tax will go down. That's just math. The second problem relates to the comment around the returns on Mr Gates' investments. The editorial assumes perpetual growth is available and wise. Look no further than climate activist Greta Thunberg's admonition at the UN when she correctly pointed out that perpetual economic growth has an indirect cost, which is the destruction of the climate. Forget fossil fuels, even something as seemingly benign as the growing use of palm oil in various products has massive effects on the climate through deforestation in Indonesia. To save the climate, we probably have to choose to growth less or even shrink economic activity. Ironically, making that wise choice should yield lower available investment profits, fortunes shrink with the tax and the revenue from the tax decreases over time, exacerbating the problem outlined above. These issues are all related. I agree wealth inequality is a massive problem. But a wealth tax is not the way to handle it.

  195. @Diana How about wealth tax in combination with other structures? And even if the fortunes behind Gates and Dimon shrink, they will still have a pretty penny to live on.

  196. @Diana About the first problem : was it Ms. Thatcher who said " Socialism works until you run out of other people's money" ?

  197. @rose I am not arguing wealthy people should not pay more taxes nor am I concerned with Gates and Dimon not having enough money to live on. I was pointing to structural long term issues with relying on the tax as a source of funding. Higher income taxes seem to be the best universal option coupled with targeted public investment in underdeveloped, neglected, or discarded communities (for example the Bronx, rust belt towns in the mid west, rural America). Personally I think the federal government should do less and the states should do A LOT MORE more because states are more responsive to what works in their state and what works in Ohio is different than what works in Mississippi. Micro problems could be tackled like affordable housing, environmentally sensitive economic development and building codes that mitigate climate impact (green roofs), public investment in renewable energy (wind), things like that. The country is too big and unwieldy for the federal government to do it. But the states need to massively step up. I do not have a good answer to what happens when states (like Kansas with the Kansas experiment completely screw up except they need to learn from and suffer because of their failure and reverse course.

  198. Real innovation would be funded schools, paved roads, free transit, etc etc. They should be worried.

  199. @Scott D, well at the current going rate, Bill Gates could build 15-25 international airports for his $100 billion. Or build 25 large hospitals. Or repave about 5000 miles of highway.

  200. People who are driven by ideas and the pursuit of excellence will do that whether their taxes are low or high. Possibly there will be some calculated adjustments on the edges around tax hikes. I highly doubt the people who make millions/billions will just throw up their hands and say, nope, not worth it. But then again, unlike economists I don't think that humans are only motivated by money.

  201. These Scrooge misers are one of the greatest banes of American society, and among the chief impediments to a fairer and better life for average Americans. We can grant that Gates, for example, did us all a fine service in creating Microsoft products. It doesn't follow that he should therefore be entitled to hoard billions of dollars which society needs to rebuild infrastructure, train workers, heal the sick and educate children. I'm quite certain that he would have done about the same amount of innovating for, say, 100 million instead of 100 billion. We as a society have bought his services far too dearly. And now we have to hear him whining when someone suggests that we take some of those resources, which he never should have been allowed to accumulate, back.

  202. The city I live in has roughly 100,000 inhabitants. Gates could give every man, woman and child living here $1,000,000 and still have several billion for himself. His “concern” hides an underlying greed, plain and simple. Despite his philanthropy, which has been admirable, I’ve lost some admiration for Mr. Gates.

  203. It is worth remembering that his philanthropy later in life came on the shoulders of voracious monopolistic behavior during his business career.

  204. I think it ill-advised for the Times or any other newspaper to quibble about Elizabeth Warren's ideas. What these naysayers fail to take into account is that any change in taxes has to go through Congress, who can make it difficult, since they get their campaign money from rich people. Same with her ideas about health insurance for all. It has to go through Congress. The tax cut party wants to do away with all our social programs, including Medicare and Social Security. They're starting now, by getting rid of Medicaid. Guess who's next on the chopping block?

  205. @carolz I haven’t seen any proposal to eliminate Medicaid from any politician.

  206. @carolz I think there is a gross failure of the American Citizen to recognize that Political Parties are NOT equipped to change anything. Political Parties are created and configured to do nothing except maintain a Status Quo. This is what both Dems and Repubs have been doing since the New Deal was established way back in the 1930s. The Income Tax being the prime revenue source for that great program, based on Federal Funding of various Public Works Projects(defense, power grids, highways, housing, ag subsidies, etc)..... ...' The only intrinsic difference between Dem and Repub is how much to tax income and where to spend the resultant govt wind falls. Neither party is interested in adapting to the radically different parameters of the 21stCentury. ....

  207. @tom Failing to adopt Medicaid expansion paid for by Fed, (as my state and others have) and requiring Medicaid recipients to work to receive benefits, are 2 steps towards getting rid of the program.

  208. The Times appears to subscribe to the "Scrooge McDuck" theory of wealth creation, all a pile of coins in a bank vault. Curious isn't it that this is the same thread of economic thinking, "idle wealth" popularized by 19th and 20th century British socialists. Assume for a moment that your widget business is worth $1bn. You have an after-tax return on assets of 6%, higher than the national average of around 4.5% When Elizabeth Warren is done, you have no free cash flow to invest in new property, plant and equipment, let alone modernize your existing facilities. You can't pay a dividend. Warren's plan is a recipe for economic collapse.

  209. @jackinnj Can you name a time in history when what we are doing now has worked? Trickle down never does, it's flaw relies on the generosity of people who are not generous. Keynesean economic theory does work as it put money in the hands of people who will spend it on things they need as opposed to the uber wealthy who spend some on who they think deserve it.

  210. You can dismiss any argument that cites to the top marginal tax rate before the 1986 tax reform. The 1986 tax reform lowered rates but expanded the definition of taxable income and eliminated deductions. Pre-1986, nominal tax rates were much higher but effective tax rates (what's actually collected) were not. See: Second, the idea that taxing the likes of Sergey Brin and Elon Musk will magically lead to economic growth is a pie-in-the-sky theory--class warfare masquerading as economics. Warren's tax plan threatens the entire innovation economy of the U.S.. We'd see more businesses move to Canada, Australia, Ireland, Singapore, etc. if corporate taxes were raised to be significantly higher than the global average and personal wealth was subject to an annual 6% levy. We can tax billionaires more with incremental reform. We don't need Professor Warren to remake the entire U.S. economy with top down government regulations emanating from Washington.

  211. The top rate only applies to income above a certain threshold. And that threshold is pretty high. The billionaires don't live in a vacuum, they rely on the work of all the "lesser" people without whom they would have nothing but money. Money doesn't do anything, it's the people who do things and they should not have to struggle if they are working full time no matter what the job. Capitalists always try to reduce costs and wages is one of the places they start.

  212. @Mmm This is so spot on. Raise the corporate tax rate so that it is no longer competitive with developed nations and there will be no more corporate jobs in the US. The 2007 exodus was bad enough, Warren will finish the task.

  213. @Mmm Where did you see the claim that increased taxes on the wealthy would lead to economic growth? And please don't trot out the "class warfare" label. It seems this is a one-way street that only applies when the wealthy are called to task for their greed.

  214. The best way to stimulate innovation is to nurture all talent (not just that born in rich families), to create systems that level the playing field and maximize the chance that valuable ideas get implemented. The worst way is to let a few gather all the money and come up with silly ideas as going to Mars, claiming it helps humanity.

  215. Finally.....just maybe we are seeing the beginnings of a needed debate on economic policy of which taxation is just one facet of. If one goes back 70 years in this country and the post WWII economic boom the history of that boom reveals many salient facts about the major policy components that spurred and maintained that historic gdp and the wealth service it provided. Tax rates of 50 to 70 per cent especially were important to provision of governmental services, infrastructure development and maintenance and educational opportunity. Estate taxation and a significant Capital Gains tax were important as well. What changed a positive policy of wealth growth and sharing was simple. As the mega-wealth crowd increased in numbers there grew an idea that what was good for the rich was good for everybody as well as an outsized sense of entitlement that the rich deserved what they had. A long campaign of political manipulation ensued, elected officials on every level were effectively bought and paid for and ultra-low taxes were best for economic policy all driven by greed and a lesser attraction to public service, patriotism, honor, integrity and a sense of sacrifice to the greater good. This has given us the aberration that electing billionaires is the way to go rather than electing those who perform and espouse service to the country. Could a soldier/statesman get elected today? Hardly, instead we get draft dodgers, superficiality and lack of honor and respect for our fellow man.

  216. "To his credit, Mr. Gates has said that he thinks the wealthy should pay higher taxes. But that’s not how he behaved on Wednesday." It's easy to way when you assume it will never actually happen, so you look good to the plebs. Now that it may happen (unlikely, I think, but more possible than before), he is scared, as the Editorial Board has said.

  217. Yes, an increase in taxes isn't going to keep someone who believes they can make an extra Million after taxes from doing so. But that isn't the point. The point is how much personal property the government can take from someone. Do we base the index on how much it hurts? The idea that someone can easily afford the extra billion is arrogant. Also, the measure of one's wealth, particularly for the comfortable and wealthy is market based and the value of that wealth will be greatly discounted by the markets; this will hurt everyone with property and 401's, etc. Europe has rejected a wealth tax and the better functioning social democratic countries have cut taxes over the years and have harrased businesses less.

  218. I've never understood the argument that taxing the wealthy stifles innovation. Yes, the rich may have to pay more taxes, but stabilizing/revitalizing/growing (please choose which of those seems most feasible right now) the middle class increases the market for products and services, which in turns proves more profitable, higher taxes or not. Income and wealth inequality have escalated to the point that, if we don't do something systemic to restore equilibrium, the economy will soon consist of goods and services produced and consumed only by the rich. Incidentally, while I believe Mr. Gates knows better than to question whether Senator Warren's proposed wealth tax will cost him 100% of his net worth, I support the two of them meeting in person. Things can happen when people engage in a face-to-face dialog that will never occur when they communicate through other media. It benefits no one if every billionaire -- with the power of the purse -- fears a potential presidential nominee.

  219. Isn't Gates referring to Warren's 6% wealth tax on the richest Americans, applied on amounts over $1 billion? This 6% tax on already taxed wealth, year after year, added to her 2% tax on amounts over $50 million, is what Gates refers to. The S&P index for the past five decades has yielded an 8% increase annually. So Warren's taxes would confiscate all gains on fortunes. Economists who are Democratic party members predict this is unconstitutional and will raise $0. See yesterday's NYTimes.

  220. @JadeG That's not how her tax structure would work. It would be 6% period. Not in addition to the 2%. You can see here: And most of this wealth hasn't already been taxed. At all. They wouldn't lose money year after year and taxes aren't unconstitutional as the courts decided around the ACA.

  221. Wealthy people just never feel that enough is enough. They are trying to fill a hole in their soul that can never be filled, because it is a spiritual, not a financial or otherwise quanitifiable failing. The data from the last 60 years is irrefutable: Tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations do virtually nothing to stimulate the economy in the long run. Whatever happened to noblesse oblige?

  222. Thank you, NYT!! The evidence is in fact pointing to the need for raising taxes on the wealthiest in this country. It’s not to punish them, per se, but to save them from their worst tendencies, amply manifest today, in unchecked dominance over a beleaguered and collapsing middle class. American history provides overwhelming proof that high concentrations of wealth at the top are disastrous, regardless of the ideology underpinning it. Income distribution needs some gravity, and serious and well respected voices need to unify around the reality that the wealthy are pulling away, not pulling their fair share, in the health of the Republic. The middle class is tapped out, the poor are desperate, and the federal government is now run by the most corrupt Administration in our history. These are not sustainable trends, and in the long run, the wealthy will continue to thrive, even if they experience some short term chaffing under the “burden” of a few percentage points rise in their obligations to the country that makes their wealth possible.

  223. It's not about where the money comes from, it's where the money goes. If wealthy people are driven by conspicuous, non-value added consumption then adjust they way they are taxed by issuing a value added tax, similar to that which works very well in Canada and Europe. Otherwise let the value creators ply their craft. Estate taxation and other taxes on excess will round out the ledger sheet. What is lost in consideration is that governments are terribly inefficient in redistributing wealth. This is especially true with very large national programs. The cost of Warren's plan will be easily twice her estimate by most accounts [what degree in financial economics did she earn again? Oh right, she didn't.] and the fallout is going to disrupt the financial system in ruinous ways.

  224. @Victor Lacca What estate taxation? It has been mostly done away with and families like the Trumps figure out how to transfer the assets before death and avoid any taxes.

  225. @Victor Lacca "by most accounts": whose accounts?

  226. Problematic as well is that the IRS has been underfunded thereby neutralizing its ability to collect taxes. So the only people paying reliably are the middle class and the lower class, where payroll taxes are removed prior to the the cutting of salary checks. This is probably another reason trump doesn't want anyone to see his tax returns, he hasn't paid much or anything in his ability to either undervalue or overvalue his properties at will. The result of fewer taxes is that the Government has fewer monies to run a country successfully, therefore much necessary spending that a country requires are short-changed.

  227. Taxing the super-rich has a long and successful tradition. I taught in a boys' yeshiva in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn which provided a dormitory for students who came from around the world. The head rabbi, known as the "Ruv" demanded financials from the parents of each student and used that information to determine tuition. One father, who owned the hugely successful kosher beverage empire, paid a fortune, while other parents paid nothing. No one complained, because at the end of the day, none of the mega rich parents felt even the slightest bit of financial pain. Lesson to be learned for our taxation system. Forced philanthropy is a good thing.

  228. Cut through the academic jargon and analysis supporting or refuting the idea that increased taxation stunts innovation and what we're really talking about is this: Are we, collectively, or in certain groups, willing to make sacrifices today that will hopefully improve the quality of life for everyone in the future, and perhaps not be fully realized in our own lifetimes? These sacrifices are not evenly distributed and tend to fall on individuals and groups in different ways. In this latest example, even if Mr. Gates is correct, that growth and innovation will trend down as a result of greater taxation, is that a sacrifice we're willing to make in pursuit of long term growth and innovation via a stronger social safety net and education? Another example that comes to mind is "busing" for integrating schools. The "white flight" that occurs as a result is on one hand shameful and on the other entirely understandable. The ask, or the sacrifice, being asked of those parents is to keep their kids in the school "for the benefit of all", which may or may not be in the best interest of their child. Another easy example is industry that pollutes our environment like coal, strip mining or certain manufacturing. Should the millions of citizens lose their jobs in pursuit of that goal? It's easy to say yes from my seat, but to the coal miner trying to put food on the table, it's not so simple. So what are we willing to endure to make a better future? Time will tell.

  229. @John Or: Women and children will go first into the lifeboats.

  230. It is very frustrating that many of the wealthy people who are decrying calls for a more balanced tax scheme today benefitted from a more equitable distribution of wealth when they were younger. Consider: University of California tuition in 1970 was $450 (in state), or about $3000 today. The in-state tuition today is $14000. State funding to American universities has declined precipitously over the past fifty years. Minimum wage in 1970 was $1.45, or about $9.25 adjusted for inflation. Minimum wage today in the US is just $7.25. For most Americans, their actual purchasing power has decreased since the 1970s. And then there's the obscene disparity of income between CEOs and workers, which could be an entirely different article. And what about the deferred costs of the environment, because this wealthy generation has decided to offload that cost, too, on a future generation.

  231. Rich people give lots of money to charities, presumably for tax purposes and perhaps Andrew Carnegie style guilt. So what is the big deal for them to pay their fair share of taxes? Most rich peoples money was obtained, using the infrastructure of our great nation, and their taxes aren’t enough to sustain it. Where is the payback to the rest of us, poorer Americans who pay more than our share of the tax burden?

  232. @Milque Toast Big donations to charity get you in the headlines and make you feel important. Paying taxes, not so much.

  233. Let's be reasonable, and mute the alarm bells. "The Rich" can most certainly afford more income taxes. Even a five percent higher rate on the highest marginal incomes would not be punitive, and would most certainly help fund properly structured and properly governed "causes". And let's be serious. A dollar "given" to a person living paycheck to paycheck (in any form the "giving" might be structured) will almost certainly be spent immediately - to "help the economy" immediately. Nobody can seriously argue that a dollar added to a "rich" person's pile will be immediately spent back into the economy - to "stimulate the economy" in any likely form.

  234. I can understand why the very rich, like Bill Gates, would prefer to continue to pay lower taxes. What I cannot understand is why so many people, probably including Mr. Gates and most of the other uber rich folks do not realize that the middle class, including the average American worker, is suffering. It is these very people that are the primary backers of Trump, who, in their ignorance, scream out their support when he rails at the "elites" and "liberals" that they incorrectly see as the cause of their woes. But another, and far more serious, impact of Trump is the damage that is being done to our democracy and the respect with which we are held worldwide. Elizabeth Warren has a through understanding of what is happening. She became a politician because of the plight of the middle class. The primary emphasis of her candidacy is to improve the living standards of the middle class.

  235. Except you assume the same amount of wealth would be generated a different way and that doing so is easy. Getting to be super rich or ultra rich is nontrivial. Starting a successful business is also nontrivial. Take a quick survey of the new billionaire class and you will find a lot of people who started at the bottom financially. I never will be a billionaire or even a millionaire, but I don’t envy their wealth nor do I want to confiscate it from them or worse redistribute it to those who will squander it. Rich people have big footprints and spend tons of cash creating a lot of indirect jobs to support their level of spending. I’d rather them spend it than the government.

  236. @Jim Unfortunately, the ultra wealthy often spend that money on vanity projects, instead of what a community really needs. I love museums, but when basic infrastructure is crumbling I think that should be a priority. Sadly, the right has done a good job of convincing some Americans that the government can't be trusted. Government entities don't always make the best decisions, but I trust them more than big business to look out for the best interests of our communities.

  237. @Jim Please name a few that didn't steal something to get it? The American motto should be "I got mine...and yours too".

  238. This is a serious accusation on one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen. Bill Gates not only has pledged to give away more than 50% of his wealth but also signed up more than 200 other billionaires. It is one thing to tax the rich for better education, fight climate change, improve the living conditions for the poor another thing to fund a massive unwieldy healthcare plan. Very irresponsible article by the board. Sure way to let Trump stay in the WH for another term.

  239. @Vivek His lobbyists and lawyers are to be commended for their work.

  240. @Vivek I wonder how Gates got that money in the first place. Would we be in a better or worse world if such ridiculous accumulation weren't so easily possible? Or if more of that money was spread around, perhaps to the companies he ruthlessly shut out, shut down, or gobbled up? The very fact that we have to tip toe around 200 people out of 8 billion on this planet is itself the problem.

  241. @Mister , "tip toe around 200 people.." is an excellent point. But, I also think nobody wants to give their money not just the uber rich. My point is we can tax the rich at a higher rate but for what purposes should be very clear for convincing anyone to part wealth. Lets not accuse them, lets not persecute them, lets not judge as this article does.

  242. The US emerged from WWII as the world's leading economic power. This began to change in the mid- 1970’s as US corporate profits began to stagnate/decline, a consequence of increased competition from rebuilt economies in Europe- mainly Germany (Marshall Plan), Japan/Korea (Korean and Vietnam wars) and more recently China. In response, large corporations and their functionaries in government: 1) enacted multiple tax cuts for the wealthy, 2) attacked labor and outsourced manufacturing jobs to Mexico, China and other low-wage platforms, 3) de-regulated finance, 4) reduced spending on education, infrastructure and capital investments, and 5) since 911, have spent $ trillions of taxpayer money on the Pentagon and strategic debacles in Afghanistan (longest running war in US history) and Iraq. These policies helped precipitate the 2008 financial crash, still not resolved. Indeed, the near continuous appreciation of equities since 2008 has not been based on investments in new plants and equipment but on an infusion circa $5 Trillion of ultra-cheap money from the US FED and Trump’s 2017 tax cuts for share buybacks, purchasing stock futures and sustain [still] insolvent banks. This money also inflated bond markets and trendy real estate in Boston, NYC, SF, Seattle. The result- US Government debt > $22 trillion and growing $1 trillion/year and does not include municipal, corporate or consumer debt. It is too late to halt US economic decline. Alea iacta est (l. Die is cast).

  243. @Paul In the 1970's US corporate profits declined because of incompetent management. The good ol' boy network did not promote the best people, and our economy showed it. Those execs simply could not compete with others because they got fat and lazy and assumed profits no matter what kind of rubbish they made and sold.

  244. About 45 years ago while backpacking around Western Europe, I was gobsmacked by examples of immeasurable wealth. In London, equestrians were casually riding around the Royal Parks. Bounded by Park Lane and North Carriage Drive, these patricians appeared out of touch with the every day hustle of a major metropolis. A well turned out gentleman engaged me in conversation in the crowd around Speakers Corner. His assumption that I was somehow from a similar economic background, otherwise how could a young person afford travel from North America did not register immediately. He inquired what my future path to success would entail. My response took him aback. All I wanted to do was create an object that everyone would want to carry in their pocket, only cost pennies to manufacture and market, yet would retail for a dollar. With an unlimited market, millions would flow my way. That dream did not happen, but you can bet that I would not begrudge a marginal tax rate exceeding 70%. At the time I had not realized that bits and bytes could be distributed far wider for less expense with greater returns. Now that is a windfall.

  245. Any discussion of a more equitable financial structure in the US must include a wide range of reforms. Yes, we must move away from our regressive income tax framework riddled with loopholes, but let's not forget how other institutions like our easily manipulated financial markets also favor the rich. It should be relatively easy, with our current president as an example, to convince Americans that additional guidelines on massive inherited wealth are justified too.

  246. A yuuge proportion of American wealth is controlled by a very small group of people. Wealth in America is power. If you want to see an egregious use of power, look no further than the Koch brothers, whose $100billion family fortune has over the last 15 years been used to reshape American politics. And if you are on the right wing - you can throw out a similar smaller argument against George Soros. The problem is these people can buy enormous power for what to them is very little money. A $50,000 donation to a Senator can buy huge policy changes. Funding a "think tank" that pulls together a handful of senators is literally enough to block whatever is being proposed - either way. The ability of wealth to buy power is nothing new. But the concentration of wealth and power is. the demographics of America today look more like an Arab oil kingdom than a democracy, and the political climate has also moved in the same direction.

  247. You know i cold not find the quote, but i think Lorenzo Medici said the same least once in his life.

  248. Clearly we cannot survive as a democracy if 1% of the population continues to hold 93% of the wealth. However, raising taxes on earned income won't fix this. We have to tax all income (interest, dividends, capital gains) above an amount certain as earned income at WWII rates. In addition we have to institute a modest federal wealth tax (again, above an amount certain) on non-real property such as stocks and bonds. This is not just good economic policy, it goes to the core of our constitutional system.

  249. Bill Gates currently pays about 6 billion in taxes, he would end up paying 12 billion under Warren's plan. The question is how long will he keep paying 12 billion until he does not have enough to keep paying that amount. The bigger question is, who will the government have to tax next to fund its promised expenses after the first few years taxing the wealthy to the point where they are not wealthy. The second point is why does the government feel that it can handle their money better than Bloomberg who is paying taxes and also spending his wealth post tax on issues like gun control. The same goes for Bill Gates. I think that it is almost very UnAmerican to go after wealthy people, how is different from wealth seizure like the ones we had in Cuba, Venezuela and USSR in 1917.

  250. @John It's the same tax rates we had in the 1950's through the early 1980's. How was it not American then?

  251. @John When I pay my fair share in taxes, I don't think the government is seizing my wealth. We're just talking about going back to tax rates that are more fair. Businesses did not run out of money when they paid those fair rates in past decades.

  252. @John If you think it’s un-American to require the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share of taxes back into the country that ALLOWS them to accumulate such massive fortunes, then it means you don’t know your own country’s history. Low tax rates for the ultra-rich are a modern invention. Interestingly, the tax rates for the ultra rich began at the same time wages began to stagnate. To address your first question, taxes are percentage based. So Bill Gates continues to pay $12 billion as long as his income demands a $12 billion tax payment. He’s not going to pay $12 billion if his personal income goes down. Also, your priorities are muddled up. Instead of being so worried about Bill Gates and his fortune which will last his children and their children their entire lives, why are you so unconcerned about the millions of Americans who have to ration medicine because they cannot afford their prescriptions?

  253. Someone should tell Bill Gates that charity begins at home. Supporting higher marginal rates, a wealth tax and a more aggressive inheritance tax would be a charitable step in the right direction.

  254. @Mr. Ed Do you have any idea of the philanthropic gifts and the work his foundation does? He is one of the greatest philanthropists and thinkers of our time.

  255. @Julie I applaud Mr. Gates' many well-documented philanthropic efforts. But this isn't about Mr. Gates personally or exclusively. It's about the uber-wealthy class of which he is a part. In fact, Bill Gates has shown more openness to more aggressive taxation of personal wealth than many of his peers, particularly Jeff Bezos, to name one. But philanthropy alone won't solve the problem of massive inequality.

  256. The level of our government debt and the level of desired new federal benefits are both so high that we all will need to pay more in taxes. To assume that just the top 1% will be able to pay enough to fund all our needs and desires is just not going to work, even if you take 100% of the 1% folks. We all need to step up at some increased level, including the highest earners paying even more. Look at Europe, all there pay more taxes than we do to achieve higher benefits. We Democrats need to sell reality, not illusions of lots of new free stuff.

  257. The problem with taxing people based on wealth is that a wealth tax removes capital for those who have shown that they manage capital well. If such capital were spend for infrastructure programs that were well managed and efficient and met real needs, the loss to productivity might not be great and there might be a benefit. But, to tax capital to spend on new entitlement programs is to reduce the wealth of the nation. Better to switch to a consumption based income tax were taxes are based on how much one consumes rather than how much one produces. And eliminate the charitable deduction for income, gift and estate tax purposes. There is no reason why we should permit untaxed billions to be used to created monuments to individuals in perpetuity.

  258. What are taxes for? Taxes are for maintaining and improving our society so that we pass to our kids a society as good or better than the one we received. When I grew up, I benefitted by the New Deal, the post-war infrastructure, expanding education, a relatively new electric grid, modern clean water systems. Is any of this better now than 50 years ago? Are our roads or bridges the same or better? I think not. Because the US has cut taxes until our infrastructure is crumbling under us. The fact is that the highest taxed countries are the Happiest Countries in the World, with great social safety nets, cleaner environments, security in their lives, and balanced budgets. There are simply no low tax, low regulation, small governments that work for the people. And in the USA, the only people who have money who can be taxed without suffering economic hardships are the rich and corporations. Sorry, Bill, that is where the money is.