When a group of millionaires request higher taxes, they’re not being generous.
There is a big difference between saying that millionaires ask the government to tax them and saying that millionaires request higher taxes on millionaires.
Consider the opening of this Washington Post story:
A group of 51 New York millionaires wants lawmakers to raise taxes — on New York millionaires.
Do you think there are only 51 millionaires in New York State? Of course not! There are a lot more than 51.
So these 51 millionaires are asking the government to tax mainly other people. They are free to donate their own wealth to any cause they wish to support. I’m sure the state government would take their donations.
But that’s not what they want. They don’t want to give. They want things from their government and they only want to pay a fraction of the price. The rest of the cost will be covered by the other millionaires who didn’t sign that letter.
In fact, if new spending passes because of that letter, the tax on millionaires would probably only pay for a fraction of it.
In a letter addressed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and state legislators, the group — working in conjunction with the left-leaning Fiscal Policy Institute and Responsible Wealth project — called for a permanent tax on the wealthy to replace a temporary one, with the revenue raised going to investments in poverty programs and infrastructure.
“In the spirit of shared sacrifice, we, the undersigned, call for a balanced solution that includes maintaining, expanding, and making permanent the top marginal income tax rates for upper-income New Yorkers like us who can afford to pay more,” the millionaires wrote in the letter, which was sent to lawmakers in Albany on Monday.
Millionaires make money in lots of different ways. Some amass fortunes by offering value to others. Others make a living by profiting from government programs. We don’t know how these particular millionaires who signed the letter make their money. The media reports on this as if they are a PR agency for the rich. They never question or investigate the motives of these petitioners for higher taxes.
While helping the poor is mentioned, the concrete concern of the letter focuses mainly on infrastructure. Is that really a concern of the poor or is it in the interests of businesses to lobby for increased spending on roads?
The real agenda for taxing the rich is to legitimize raising taxes on the middle class. While there are many millionaires, there aren’t enough to add much to state spending. As Bernie Sanders has shown us, rhetoric against the rich is used to justify spending programs that are mostly paid for by the middle class—because that’s where the money is.