Speed Reads

Soak the Rich

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, former GOP congressman, makes an impassioned case for taxing the super-rich

If redistributing wealth through tax policy is "socialism," former Florida Republican congressmember Joe Scarborough is fine with the label, he said on Tuesday's Morning Joe

The House Ways and Means Committee released its tax plan Monday, part of the Democrats' $3.5 trillion (or less) spending package, proposing to raise $2.1 trillion over 10 years by raising the top income tax rate back to 39.6 percent, from 37 percent, and increasing taxes on profitable corporations, among other changes that "would overwhelmingly hit the richest 1 percent of Americans," The Washington Post says.

But, The New York Times reports, "the proposal, while substantial in scope, stopped well short of changes needed to dent the vast fortunes of tycoons like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, or to thoroughly close the most egregious loopholes exploited by high-flying captains of finance," dispensing "with measures floated by the White House and Senate Democrats to tax wealth." Senior House Democrats chose this path, the Times reports, "to be more mindful of moderate concerns in their party." Scarborough suggested they were being mindful of lobbyists for the super-rich, and he urged Democrats to "do better" than this "lousy" tax plan.

"Are moderates really concerned that" corporations like Amazon and Chevron "may actually have to pay millions of dollars in taxes? Because now they're paying zero," Scarborough said. "And billionaires are continuing to figure out how to pay little or nothing. Hedge fund titans are paying taxes at lower rates than their clerical employees and the people who chauffeur their Bentleys. You think that's demagoguery, that's populism? No, it's not. No, that's the fact."

"Everybody hates income redistribution, that makes you a socialist, doesn't it, if you're for a scheme that redistributes wealth?" Scarborough added. "Well, let me tell you something: In the world we've lived in over the past 40 years, there's been the largest income redistribution scam in American history, and it's been the middle class that's been looted while trillions keep flowing into the bank accounts of billionaires."

Plenty of congressional Democrats agree. "It would be a monumental mistake for Congress to pass a bill that really exempts billionaires," said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Finance Committee. But Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) defended their plan as "the boldest common denominator" that can get 218 House votes and 50 Senate votes, adding, "What I don't want is another noble defeat."