Live Free Or Die: America (and the World) on the Brink (11 page)

BOOK: Live Free Or Die: America (and the World) on the Brink
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AOC has proposed taxing income above $10 million at 70 percent, whereas the top marginal rate today is 37 percent, which begins at $500,000. While AOC is correct that the top rates were this high between World War II and the Reagan era, she omits that the effective
rates—the percentage of income that people actually pay once exemptions, deductions, and other tax-code incentives are accounted for
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—were substantially lower then because more deductions, exemptions, and shelters were available.
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Leftists disregard critics who say such taxes will raise little revenue because, for them, higher taxes have a higher purpose. “A slew of articles have since debated whether higher tax rates would actually raise much revenue,” says Vanessa Williamson of the Brookings Institution. “But these articles miss the point. Taxes on the very wealthy are corrective taxes, like tobacco taxes, that should be judged by their societal impact, not simply their revenues.” And here's the punch line: “The purpose of high tax rates on the rich is the reduction of vast fortunes that give a handful of people a level of power incompatible with democracy.”
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Once again, it all boils down to class warfare.

Warren proposed a new wealth tax (“ultra-millionaire tax”)—an annual tax of 2 percent on household wealth above $50 million and 3 percent above $1 billion. Sanders had a similar plan beginning with a 1 percent tax on household wealth above $32 million, graduating to 8 percent above $10 billion.
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Such schemes have been tried before with dismal results. New York University professor Edward Wolff says that since the 1970s, thirteen advanced economies have imposed a wealth tax, and eight of them have abandoned it while the other five have yielded disappointing outcomes. Wolff reports that European wealth taxers found that many of the rich hid their assets, avoided the tax illegally, or left the country.
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Well, even if her tax doesn't raise much revenue, Warren can rest easy knowing she has engineered a “corrective tax” to punish the wealthy.

Sanders would also have taxed stock trades at 0.5 percent, bond trades at 0.1 percent, and derivative transactions at 0.005 percent. Sanders too appeared to view this more as an act of class warfare than a means to raise revenue. “This bill targets Wall Street investment houses, hedge funds, and other speculators,” he boasted.
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He claimed his tax would raise some $3 trillion over a decade, but the Tax Policy
Center, analyzing his earlier, similar plan, estimated it would earn only $400 billion. Investors would likely respond to this punitive measure either by moving to lower-taxed overseas markets or just trading less. Naturally, the less they invest, the less revenues the taxes will generate.
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Democrats also want to raise the death tax, which taxes wealth that people pass on to their families or other beneficiaries when they die. The estate tax, as it's officially called, was passed by Congress in 1916 as much to redistribute wealth as to raise revenue. But if leftists are really motivated by compassion, they should support abolishing this tax because it harms grieving family members. The tax is also unjust since it applies to assets that were acquired with money that was already taxed. The death tax, reports Heritage Foundation policy expert Curtis Dubay, inflicts “serious harm on family business, workers, and the economy.” It “slows economic growth, destroys jobs, and suppresses wages because it is a tax on capital and on entrepreneurship.” It also discourages savings and investment and undermines job creation.
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Nevertheless, Sanders would have reduced the death tax exemption from its current level of $11 million per person ($22 million for married couples) to $3.5 million per person and $7 million per married couple. He would have taxed estates above $1 billion as high as 77 percent—a massive government confiscation of wealth.

Democrats would increase capital gains tax rates as well. Joe Biden would double the top rate from 20 percent to 40 percent for taxpayers with incomes of more than $1 million.
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He would also raise taxes on corporations and expand the payroll tax to income over $400,000—the exact kind of policies that encourage companies to move their operations overseas. “While Wall Street may view Biden as more moderate than self-declared democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, investors would still face dramatic tax increases under his proposals, including higher rates on both ordinary income and capital gains,” writes Ylan Mui. “Corporations would also be subject to a significant rise in taxes at home and overseas.”
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Democrats refuse to learn the lessons of history—or simply don't care—because waging class warfare is critical to securing their base's support, which is more important to them than serving the nation's best interests. History shows that capital gains taxes discourage investment and slow economic growth, raise unemployment, and reduce personal income.
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The higher the rates, the greater the damage. When rates are high, investors will be less likely to sell or trade their stock for more profitable investments because they pay tax only when the stock is sold. This “lock-in” effect reduces economic output.
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There are similarly outrageous proposals from many other Democrats, but you get the idea—elect Democrats and watch the economy shrink along with our liberties. An economic slowdown, of course, is most damaging to the poor, who have the fewest resources to deal with unemployment and slowing wage growth, but this is acceptable collateral damage in the Democrats' mania for class warfare.

ABOLISHING BABIES AND BORDERS

Nothing better illustrates the Democrats' extremism and cultural depravity than their position on abortion. After surveying the Democratic presidential field, the
New York Times
' Maggie Astor found that the group “coalesced around an abortion rights agenda more far-reaching than anything past nominees have proposed.” Every candidate “supports codifying Roe v. Wade in federal law, allowing Medicaid coverage of abortion by repealing the Hyde Amendment, and removing funding restrictions for organizations that provide abortion referrals.”
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Almost all supported abortion on demand throughout pregnancy and opposed the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which requires that babies who survive botched abortions receive medical care.
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You can't get much closer to infanticide than that. Or maybe you can. The left's extremism is seen crystal clear in Virginia governor Ralph Northam's comments about abortion after delivery:
“If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

Though the Democratic Party has typically denied applying a litmus test to judicial nominees, almost all the Democratic candidates said they would, and would nominate only judges who support abortion rights. Almost all the candidates opposed any restrictions on late-term abortions. Even Biden, formerly more cautious, tilted full left on abortion. “The 2020 candidates' responses reflect a fundamental change in the Democratic Party's approach [to abortion],” writes Astor. Planned Parenthood's Jacqueline Ayers boasted that the candidates were no longer allowed merely to claim they're pro-choice. They had to go on offense, specify how abortion access “is being undermined in this country,” and propose “plans to protect and expand rights.”
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Astor notes that the candidates were far more unapologetic in their abortion advocacy—and who could deny that, with Democrats lighting up buildings in celebration of abortion and proudly promoting the hashtag #ShoutYourAbortion? While a few candidates still paid lip service to President Clinton's mantra that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare,” most abandoned even the pretense that they want to make it rare. “Abortion should be safe, legal, and accessible to every person who chooses it,” wrote Bernie Sanders.
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The Democrats' position on immigration is similarly extreme—minimal to zero restrictions. They not only oppose additional border walls on the southern border; they want to take down existing ones. “A wall is an immorality,” said Nancy Pelosi. “It's not who we are as a nation.”
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Let me correct Pelosi's statement: “Without a wall we are not a nation.” That's what she should have said, because we cannot protect our national sovereignty without controlling our borders and having a regulated, lawful, and orderly immigration process.

But Democrats have gone off the rails on this issue as well. Many
of them would abolish or severely restrict U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)—the agency that protects our borders. They support sanctuary cities that, in defiance of federal law, refuse to cooperate with federal law enforcement to locate and deport illegals, and they often sabotage these efforts. “ ‘Abolish Ice' has become a slogan of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party,” writes Dara Lind. “It's impossible to imagine anything like that happening 10 years ago, when immigration was still an issue that split both parties.”
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Again trying to position himself as the more moderate choice, Biden opposed abolishing ICE but still advocated overhauling the system and undoing Trump's immigration policies.
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Let's be honest, those who oppose securing our borders, who support sanctuary cities and states, are damaging America immeasurably. Our lax border enforcement costs our criminal justice system billions of dollars annually, let alone the other staggering burdens it imposes on taxpaying Americans.

Some argue that the party has recently backed away from its immigration extremism, but don't count on it.
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Democrat moderation preceding an election can never be trusted. If anything, the party, under increasing control of the radical left, is getting more extreme on immigration. Many Democrats support full amnesty for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants and providing them free government health care and college, as noted, and free housing and other benefits. Democrats increasingly oppose Kate's Law, ending chain migration, ending the visa lottery, deporting MS-13 gang members and other violent criminals, and mandates for private employers to use E-verify to check employees' legal status.
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While they claim that compassion drives their positions on immigration, the hard truth is that most of them are power-hungry posers, cynically angling to create millions of new Democratic voters.

REPARATIONS

It seems like a lifetime ago, but just a few years back both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama spoke out against slavery reparations. For the left, which thrives on racial conflict, identity politics, and perpetual victimhood, the Civil War, civil rights laws, and even the election of an African American president are irrelevant. There can never be sufficient atonement, but attempts must be made in the form of cold, hard cash.

The idea of slavery reparations has been around since the 1860s, and demagogues have given the proposal new life in recent years. It's an awful idea that prioritizes race over individual character and fosters an “us against them” mentality, which the left thrives on but which greatly damages race relations. It is patronizing, and treats people as perpetual victims.

Reparations divide the country. And it's impossible to believe that the left would be satisfied with mere slavery reparations—in fact, Elizabeth Warren advocated for reparations for Native Americans as well.
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This entire idea is impractical and racially inflammatory—it could be supported only by leftists who traffic in racial conflict. The proposal is also economically impossible—a study in
Social Science Quarterly
estimated the cost of a reparations program at between $5.9 trillion and $14.2 trillion. This was based on the total number of hours slaves worked in the country since 1776. What's more, creating a new, racially exclusive government handout would do nothing to improve anyone's life—it's a textbook example of giving people fish rather than teaching how to catch them. Our goal should be to increase opportunity for all and expand the economy to maximize employment, raise wages, and improve everyone's standard of living, which is precisely what President Trump is doing.

Predictably, an increasing number of prominent Democrats are giving this destructive idea serious consideration. The House of Representatives held a hearing on Sheila Jackson Lee's H.R. 40 bill, which calls for a commission to “study and consider a national apology and
proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto and economic discrimination against African-Americans.” Meanwhile, pandering Democratic presidential candidates liked the idea.
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Senators Corey Booker, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren announced support, and Castro, Biden, Buttigieg, Gabbard, Klobuchar, Sanders, and others were open to studying the concept.
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Indeed, Biden demanded immediate action to address racism in America. “We have to look at institutional racism that exists in this country,” said Biden. I've “spent my whole life trying to do away with institutional racism… [and] systemic racism that exists in the United States.”
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But in fact, Biden has a checkered history of making borderline racist comments. For instance, in 2006, he told a voter, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking.” In 2007, he called Obama “articulate and bright and clean.” In 2012, he claimed to a largely black audience that Romney and Wall Street were “going to put y'all back in chains.” In 2019, he said, “Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids.” And just recently, on the
Breakfast Club
radio show, he told host Charlamagne tha God, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black.” On the same program, he lied about receiving an endorsement from the NAACP.

BOOK: Live Free Or Die: America (and the World) on the Brink
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