President Barack Obama made phrase “pay their fair share” famous during his time in office and during his campaign. Of course, what he really should have said is “have the rich pay more,” because that seemed to be his actual goal.
Take more from those “perceived” to have the most. Thing is, those people, the top echelon of society, already pay an abhorrent amount of taxes. That didn’t stop a group called the Patriotic Millionaires from demanding they pay even more at a recent conference aptly named “Tax the Rich!”
The mission statement of the Patriotic Millionaires is “Tax the Rich. Save America. Yes, it is really that simple.” The slogan simply doesn’t hold water though when its tested mathematically. In reality, some 48% of the current federal revenue comes from income taxes as a whole. Of that percentage, the top 1% of income earners are responsible for around 37.3%. What this means is, the rich already pay way more taxes that the rest of the population — and it’s not close. In fact, the top half of taxpayers pay 97% of all income taxes.
The Tax Policy Center found that some 44% of Americans will end up not paying any federal income taxes at all. Around 87% of all income taxes for the year 2018 came from the top 20% of income earners. This number has increased from 84% in 2017, meaning that President Trump’s tax cuts actually increased the amount paid by top income earners — something you’ll never hear CNN admit to.
It’s obvious the rich are already paying a great deal of taxes. This isn’t enough for groups like the Patriotic Millionaires, though. They want them to pay what they deem a “fair share.” However, what is fair is often subjective, and changes from person to person. Many people within these groups and those on the left feel it’s not right for anyone to be “super-rich” at all. They believe these people don’t deserve their money — the rest of America does. In fact, a recent New York Times piece featuring Farhad Manjoo said “abolishing” billionaires outright is ideal. Beto O’Rourke and Elizabeth Warren echo this sentiment, saying the rich should be less rich simply because income equality is bad.
In reality, putting a plan in place which would take the wealth from prosperous individuals and tax them even up to 100% of their income wouldn’t even come close to fixing the financial problems in Washington. According to Brian Riedl of Manhattan Institute, even doubling the top tax brackets, making them 35%, 37% and 74%, “Would close just one-firth of the long-term Social Security and Medicare shortfall. Even seizing all annual income earned over $500,000 would not come close.”
To put it another way, even confiscating 100% of all the top 1 percent’s wealth would not even almost pay for Sander’s infamous Medicare for All, which enjoys a $32 trillion price tag.
The bottom line is that it mathematically wouldn’t matter if every single wealthy person in America gave all their income to the government. It still wouldn’t be enough. That means the solution should never be for the rich to “pay more.” Right now, they are already arguably paying “more than their fair share.”