Biden's Millionaires' Tax

[ Posted Monday, April 26th, 2021 – 14:34 UTC ]

This Sunday, I watched some political malpractice take place. The ABC morning political chatfest had their usual duelling roundtable, although for some reason Rahm Emanuel was missing from the lineup. This allowed Chris Christie to demonize the idea that President Joe Biden will be proposing (officially, on Wednesday) to tax upper-income capital gains at the same rate as wage income. The two liberals on the panel just weren't a match for him, and got drawn into the weeds of the debate rather than framing it correctly for the American public. Because not once did they use the phrase: "millionaires' tax."

That's what the new tax plan would be. Plain and simple. Cut and dried. If you make less than one million dollars per year in income, then your taxes will not change at all (at least not on capital gains -- there are reportedly other parts to Biden's proposal, but none of them was even part of this discussion so they can be treated separately). Got that? Only millionaires will pay. And not just millionaires in the traditional sense of the word ("those who are worth more than a million dollars"), but annual millionaires, since the tax rate wouldn't even kick in until you make that much in one year's income (no matter what your actual overall wealth may be). That's an even smaller slice of the public than "millionaires," but the label is still a useful one. In fact, it isn't even the "one percent" -- it is instead only the top three-tenths of one percent.

This is a tax on millionaires, and Democrats should start calling it that immediately. "Don't make a million bucks a year? Don't worry, it won't apply to you." That is the easiest counterargument to make to all the Republican weeping and wailing about the poor investor class and how downtrodden and put upon they are. According to conservatives, if you tax investors too much, then at some point they will just throw up their hands and say: "I'm paying too much in taxes, therefore I will just stop making money and that will solve the problem!" No really -- that's pretty much their whole argument.

Of course, it is completely shameful that America taxes capital gains differently than other income sources. Making money is making money, after all, whether you get it in a paycheck each week or in profits when you sell some stock (that's all "capital gains" are -- profit from buying and selling things like stocks). All other sources of income are lumped together by the I.R.S. and treated the same, with the same tax rates. But this one particular way of making money -- coincidentally the same way very wealthy people make most of their money -- is taxed at roughly half the rate that a firefighter, a police officer, or a schoolteacher is taxed on their wages. To put it in as simple terms as possible: rich people pay half the income taxes everyone else does.

To his credit, Joe Biden actually admitted while campaigning for the Democratic nomination that he was in favor of taxing capital gains as all other income is taxed. I was pleasantly surprised to hear this, because it is not normally considered a centrist position. It is usually espoused by people like Senator Bernie Sanders, to put it another way. But Biden stated his intention of doing so in several debates. He is now merely following through on that promise -- again, to his credit.

Republicans are going to fight this using their usual bag of rhetorical tricks. Taxing capital gains at the exact same rate as wages will be called "socialism" and "redistribution of wealth" and (of course) a "job killer." But what they don't fully realize is that the public is actually in the mood to redistribute some of the gaping inequality in this country -- inequality that has been fed and nurtured by outrageous tax giveaways to the very top of the income heap. This has been going on for decades now, which is why the gap has grown so large.

Most people are now just fine with closing that gap a bit. And the way to convince those who might be sitting on the fence is to frame the issue so that anyone can easily understand it:

"Do you think millionaires pay too much in taxes, or too little? If we could change the taxes on millionaires without changing everyone else's taxes, would you support that? All we'd be doing is forcing them to pay the same tax rates that you now do on your wages instead of only taxing them half what you now pay-- that sounds pretty fair, doesn't it? Because that's exactly what Joe Biden is proposing with his new capital gains tax plan. Instituting a millionaires' tax, so we all pay our fair share to build America back better."

That is a winning argument. Which is why, as I said, it was absolute political malpractice not to hear that phrase being used by liberals this weekend. Hopefully, they'll rectify this unforced error immediately. Hopefully Joe Biden himself will use it in his big speech on Wednesday night, to show other Democrats how easy it is to sell this idea to the public.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


14 Comments on “Biden's Millionaires' Tax”

  1. [1] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    i'd say biden's billionaires, and not call it a tax. will anyone really reply, but wait, it's not really just billionaires, what about those shlubs who are only worth 500 million, poor them!

  2. [2] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    better, biden's billionaire balancing bill

  3. [3] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    is this thing on? *taptaptap*

    pie. pie. peter piper picked a peck of pineapple peach pies. pie.

    ah well...

  4. [4] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Good luck getting the Democrats to phrase mildly redistributive policies in a way that appeals to and makes sense to the 99.7%.

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Heh. Yeah, good luck with that, indeed.

    Why do you suppose the phrase 'Republican cult of economic failure' never stuck? Oh, wait ... what?

  6. [6] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    He can tax those other billionaires all he wants, I ain't payin'!

  7. [7] 
    John M wrote:

    If I had one billion dollars, I would be perfectly happy if they took 900 million in tax and left me with 100 million. I could then buy a fabulous house for 20 million and never have to worry about anything else for the rest of my life with the remaining 80 million.

  8. [8] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    so how many of those billions do you feel you personally earned? and to bring it back to our discussion of the previous column, if you manage a company with billions of other people's capital and labor (or for fairness' sake a union as well), to what extent does that entitle you to THEIR free speech rights?


  9. [9] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:


    Sorry, I thought I was making a joke.

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I thought it was pretty funny. :)

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    John M,

    (Hope I got the right john; I'm always getting our johns around here mixed up)

    Been experimenting with THC dosing in edibles. First off, I think you may like these, though, I don't have any physical pain I'm trying to ease like you do.

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    I would recommend them ... just be careful with the dosing because it could take a little while before you start feeling the effects. I use this Vancouver site

  12. [12] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    i figured it was a joke, and not an entirely unfunny one at that. just following the conceit.

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I knew that.

  14. [14] 
    Kick wrote:


    If anybody like Fucker Carlson confronts you outdoors and informs you that your mask is making them uncomfortable and insists that you take it off, simply notify the moron that their face is making you uncomfortable and make a deal with them:

    I'll take this mask off if you'll put it on.

    If they threaten to call the police or Child Protective Services and report you for "child abuse" because your child is wearing a mask, inform them that it is a crime to file a false claim of child abuse in the vast majority of states in America and then offer to dial for them.

    Yes, I'm kidding... probably.

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