We return to the subject of potential tax rises and I apologize right from the start.
Still, we must face facts, whatever those might be.
A timely report suggests that a Joe Biden presidency, if he can implement his plans with support from a compliant Congress, would spell trouble for top-bracket taxpayers in high-bracket states like New York, California and New Jersey.
I list them in order of my displeasure with their sports teams – first things first with New Englanders. However, baseline studies suggest that, should Biden’s plan comes to pass, California’s richest could face combined state-federal taxes of 62.6%, New Jersey’s wealthiest, 60%, and the poshest New Yorkers, 58.2%. There’s no justice, it seems, though that judgement depends on how you see the key issue.
What can we expect will happen? Is this latest report and the research at its basis even credible? I get suspicious as elections draw near.
Just this morning, I was talking to my dear friend Davíd, a fine Jewish gent from Brooklyn, USA. We discussed the New Testament, which David knows quite well, and he opined on translations and true meanings. He knows Hebrew, the root of words Greek-Latin-English; I explained that ‘ye’ – as in ‘ye olde’ – is pronounced ‘thee’. I contribute where I can. But if there’s two interlocutors, if you’re going to get anywhere, you need at least one intellectual.
He got me to thinking: how much do I know? How well do we understand? Mastery of text, sacred or profane, takes informed, careful study. What does Biden intend?
Ask ourselves: are pundits and analysts, declaredly dispassionate, presenting us with accurate estimates? This matters, because I’ve read Candidate Biden’s tax plan and find it most vague – possibly with intent. I suspect Biden’s plan is a declaration of intent, backed up by scenarios dependent on the composition of Congress, the public mood, external conditions, on and on. Those plans we don’t see… recall the saying about how sausage gets made. And whatever he wants, it depends on a win.
Why do the Democrats want to raise taxes at all? Party leaders are wealthy and key supporters are, too. This riles the cynics and skewers intentions, yet the drive to hike taxes is plain to see in party plank and street-level zeal. What’s behind all this strident hullaballoo?
Possibility one: it’s politics. Pit a stressed-out electorate against the super-wealthy, claw in some revenue to fund programs advantageous to supporters and voters. Nothing to see here, folks; Washington-style business as usual. It may be that simple: incendiary talk, window-dressing policy to follow. A good chunk of bipartisan history winks at this suspicion.
A second possibility: sincerity. The capital city may quake to its stony core, but this time they may really mean it: Biden’s plan may be underpinned by a genuine push for equity. The people are hurting, social funding is short, so the rich must pay up – it’s only fair. Democrats are often divided on the deficit issue: some see a threat, others are unperturbed. On the justice issue, self-defined, they concur. I don’t doubt many Democrats passionately agree with this reasoning, but wonder what lurks in the leadership.
Anyway, it’s plausible, oh jaded ones: they just might believe the wealthy should fill the bare coffers, as a case of practical sense. The rich themselves may even agree – until they see the bill, at least.
There’s another possibility, and there’s hard evidence for it: the Democrats are bent on revolutionary change. Sweeping, it’s called, with little restraint. Amend the Constitution, pack the Supreme Court, hobble the agencies, rule by decree – the hysteria is rising fast, isn’t it? Yet all of these fears have some basis in words sprinkled about by party officials.
They’ll start with the rich, the worried ones caution – no one likes them, anyway. Managed democracy, the ‘European system’ – curious, disturbing words, occasionally aired – is on the way. It’s hard to deny: the power mad are always with us. But despite violent hiccups, the US is disinclined to revolution, managed or otherwise, I think. Yet the danger is real – in shadows, just perceptible – so the concern calls for rational thought.
The Biden tax plan defines someone as ‘wealthy’ if they earn more than $400,000 a year. How does this sound to your ear: is it a lot? Statistics indicate that only 1.8% of Americans would qualify under Biden’s definition, and they hold around one-quarter of the nation’s wealth. Perhaps they can afford a tax hike. Perhaps they’re paying ‘a lot’ now. Maybe, just possibly, they’re rich because they’re skilled at gaming the system. Artful dodgers, you might say. No matter what happens, they’ll prevail. Alas, History made me write these last words.
I don’t mean to say the rich are nefarious, though it can’t be ruled out in all cases. In the main, their wealth grants access to expert advice; legal, financial and tax mitigation, among many varieties. Commentators have noted the difference between statutory tax rates and the actual rates paid – the latter always lower after deductions, offsets, credits and the like. One wonders if rich minds ever fear.
So what will really happen? Mr. Biden might win, but perhaps he will not. If he triumphs, he may radically transform our nation – or not, as circumstances and true intentions will dictate. In talking taxes, the rich and our plight, we may be ‘oohing’ at fireworks. If we consult History again, and ask what’s to come, we’ll likely receive her bright ‘yes’ – some of those things could well happen. Cleo, thanks for nothing.