In a Thursday interview on CNBC show Mad Money with Jim Kramer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren came out swinging against billionaires, saying:
“You know that top one-tenth of 1 percent this year, taxes all in, they’re gonna pay about 3.2 percent of their total worth in taxes to help keep everything running around here. You know what the 99 percent is gonna pay this year? They’re gonna pay about 7.2 percent of their wealth. That’s more than twice as much.”
But Elizabeth Warren’s numbers are very misleading.
According to the available IRS tax data, the very richest people in America–– the top 0.001 percent–– have consistently paid an average federal tax rate of 23.93% over the last ten years. And all Americans making $2 million or more in annual income pay an average effective tax rate of 27%. So what Sen. Warren said simply isn’t true.
Why the smaller percentage for the very richest Americans?
Because more of their income is dividends from capital gains, which is taxed at 20 percent. Warren might argue that it’s unfair for billionaires to pay a lower tax on their capital gains than high-income earners pay on their salaries, but the income from capital gains is money that was already taxed once at the corporate level.
“I want these billionaires to stop being freeloaders. I want them to pick up their fair share. That’s how we make a system that works not just for the rich and the powerful but works for all of us.”
This characterization that Elizabeth Warren made of billionaires as freeloaders is wrong too. Billionaires are far from freeloaders. They made all of us wealthier on their way to earning three commas in their net worth, by being the creative force behind the ideas and commercial enterprises that create massive amounts of wealth.
Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, the late Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, the late Sam Walton– none of these great men ever got a single dollar in their pocket that someone didn’t willingly give to them in exchange for something of greater value, according to each individual payor’s own judgment, something that made them richer than keeping the money in their own pocket.
“Look, all I’m asking for is a little slice from the tippy-tippy-top. A slice that would raise—and this is the shocking part—about $2.75 trillion over the next 10 years. That’s money we need so that every kid in this country has a decent childcare opportunity, has an opportunity for pre-K, has an opportunity for a decent school.”
Look, all I’m asking for is the United States federal government to comply with its own charter document, the U.S. Constitution, and stop unconstitutionally (i.e., illegally) starting education businesses using tax dollars taken from people’s earnings.
There’s nothing in Article I Section 8 about Congress appropriating money for daycare centers, so Amendment X to the Bill of Rights guarantees that is not a prerogative within the scope of the government’s powers.
Sen. Warren’s Mad Money interview was a pile on after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated a week ago that any system which allows billionaires to exist while anyone lives in poverty is immoral.
But her statement is more like the cartoon character off the Monopoly board game box than a serious analysis of the role billionaires play in America’s society and economy.
It’s not their fault that anyone is poor, and poverty doesn’t exist because there are billionaires. We are all most certainly more wealthy because of the engines of economic productivity created by people who profited massively from them.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was very rudely heckled by a narcissistic attention seeker at Schultz’s first talk after announcing he would run for president of the United States as a moderate independent in 2020:
“Go back to Davos with the other billionaire elite who think they know how to run the world! That’s not what Democracy needs!”
Not what Democracy needs?
I’ll take a billionaire businessman who made a billion dollars selling people coffee over a millionaire law professor who goes on national television as a U.S. senator and quotes blatantly misleading tax statistics while stirring up Marxist class envy. Or a millionaire cop who made a million dollars locking people up for selling weed.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not represent those of, nor should they be attributed to, CCN.com.
Elizabeth Warren Image from Joseph Prezioso/AFP