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'Tax the rich' is no longer just a political slogan

Jim Hightower on

There's nothing inevitable about inequality. It's an injustice that the moneyed powers and their political hirelings have chosen. We the People can choose a brighter path, one that bends toward justice, starting with a wealth tax such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren's plan to apply a 2% per annum wealth tax only to net worth over $50 million and another 1% to households worth more than a billion bucks.

But how can we best the billionaires who buy the political clout to push through laws that the great majority opposes (such as 2017's Donald Trump-Mitch McConnell trillion-dollar tax giveaway to the rich) and best their brawny political blockers? Not by going around them but by pushing right through them.

First, years of rank avarice and arrogance have caught up with the superrich and their enablers, turning "billionaire" into a synonym for "thief" and focusing rising public anger on the inequality they've fostered.

Second, that anger has generated a stunning level of popular enthusiasm for the wealth tax. A New York Times survey found that 6 in every 10 Americans favor Sen. Warren's plan:

75% of Democrats

57% of independents

 

Wow! 51% of Republicans

Third, not all billionaires are jerks. Eli Broad, a former union auto worker who built two Fortune 500 corporations, is a leader among a small group of superrich Americans who

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believes "it's time for those of us with great wealth to commit to reducing income inequality, starting with the demand to be taxed at a higher rate than everyone else." He says: "The old ways aren't working, and we can't waste any more time tinkering around the edges. ... I have watched my wealth grow exponentially thanks to federal policies that have cut my tax rates while wages of regular people have stagnated and poverty rates have increased. ... A wealth tax can start to address the economic inequality eroding the soul of our country's strength. I can afford to pay more, and I know others can too. What we can't afford are more shortsighted policies that skirt big ideas, avoid tough issues and do little to alleviate the poverty faced by millions of Americans. There's no time to waste."

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