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We should all know that of course. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that over the next 10 years the Buffet Tax would generate $47 billion. Let’s put that in perspective. First of all, that is the Committee’s estimate. I’ll bet someone a cup of coffee about how likely that estimate is to be on the mark (say, within 10% in either direction with 50% probability?). Second, this is $4.7 billion per year, or less than one-quarter of the amount of the agricultural subsidies given out every year.

Of course, this has nothing at all to do with raising revenue. It has everything to do with crude symbolism. We want to show that we “care” about the appearance of “social justice.” We want to show that we think it’s despicable that rich people earn all that money. We want to show that we are listening to the 99%. That’s a hell of a lot easier than actually doing something to make the economy work better for everyone.

2 Responses to “Soaking the Rich Ain’t Raising Money from the Rich”

  1. Harry says:

    Doesn’t the “Buffet Tax” in part propose to tax capital gains the same as ordinary income, above a threshold (e.g above $250,000 a year for a married couple filing jointly, or above $500,000, or $1 million, or whatever)? If so, does the Joint Committee take into account that people will defer their realizing any gains? (Assuming there are gains, which assumes rising earnings.) I believe Congress does not do dynamic scoring, which is part of the problem.

    You cleverly hedged your coffee bet by plus or minus 10%, but I will take your bet since it is just for a cup of coffee, and contingent on something so stupid being enacted.

  2. Rod says:

    I’d like to see a special tax aimed at Warren Buffett — like taxing him on imputed theoretical gains he has avoided realizing under his “hold forever” rule for Berkshire Hathaway. I’d throw in a special provision for all stocks over, say, $2,000 a share, and an “alternative screw Buffett to the Wall tax” to capture any and all money Buffett might have left. Sure, this would be a bill of attainder, but these days the Constitution has not been a barrier for the Executive Branch.

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