President Joe Biden has ambitious plans for childcare, education, and much needed infrastructure, and he’s proposed paying for it with tax increases on the wealthiest Americans. Republicans naturally hate this idea. Can’t we just cut wasteful social programs and leave their rich donors alone?
Biden’s American Families Plan would raise $1.5 trillion over a decade from increased taxes on the top one percent of income earners. The new top 39.6 percent tax bracket is unprecedented, if you don’t count tax rates prior to 2017. This would impact individuals earning more than $452,700 in 2022 and married couples making at least $509,300. That might sound like a lot of money, because it is, but apparently people with incomes at this level don’t feel rich.
That was the subject of a since-deleted Twitter thread from Stephanie Ruhle, NBC News Senior Business Correspondent.
A couple earning 500K will have taxes raised. I am not disputing that is a lot of money/ but especially in high tax BLUE states, those folks definitely don’t consider themselves “rich.” And even if it is a lot richer than the poor — those voters don’t see it that way.
If you’ve lived in New York or California, Ruhle’s argument wasn’t unique or that shocking. The New York Times ran an article in 2009 that repeated the same hard-luck story: “You Try Living On 500K In This Town.”
PRIVATE school: $32,000 a year per student.
Mortgage: $96,000 a year.
Co-op maintenance fee: $96,000 a year.
Nanny: $45,000 a year.
We are already at $269,000, and we haven’t even gotten to taxes yet.
Oh no! How will this poor, scrappy, and hungry family survive? Of course, somehow the nanny is expected to keep the lights on with her $45,000 a year salary. It might seem like well-off New Yorkers exist in a bubble, but they encounter lower-income residents every day — doormen, transit workers, nannies, and restaurant staff, etc. — who make their lives possible. True patriotism must extend beyond wearing a flag pin or condemning athletes who kneel during the national anthem. It should also mean you’re willing to pay a little more in taxes in order to ease the burden on the 99 percent of Americans less fortunate than you.
And we really are talking about just a “little more.” I’ve seen figures for a couple with a combined income of $550,000 that range that range from an additional $1,050 to more than $6,000. This isn’t a Robin-Hood-style shakedown. No family would have to let go of the nanny or expose their children to poor people at public school.
This amounts to $87.55 a month, and if you earn $550,000 a year and you aren’t willing to spend $87.55 a month for… https://t.co/R32LXMRHRi
— Courtney Milan 🦖 (@Courtney Milan 🦖)1620002190.0
Author Courtney Milan called the proposed increases a “rounding error for people in that income bracket.” She doubted they’d even notice, and if so, it wouldn’t change “one iota of their spending.” Even if she’s wrong and people at the low end of the affected tax bracket would have to budget or cut back on Starbucks, that’s still not too much to ask so that other people don’t starve.
The last year was brutal, especially for lower-income Americans. Studies show that the economic shutdowns disproportionately affected lower-income minorities, who were already dying from COVID-19 at disproportionate rates. The pandemic impacted wealthier families far less. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 39 percent of upper-income Americans say their family’s financial situation has improved in the past year, while a third of lower-income Americans worry about keeping their healthcare, paying rent, and buying enough food for their family. They also worry about losing their jobs or taking a pay cut, as well as their increasing debt. Their struggle is definitely real.
Essential workers comprise more than 60 percent of New York City’s labor force, and 70 percent of them are people of color. Single mothers of color have also felt the childcare pressure, especially during a pandemic when safe options were limited. COVID-19 should’ve opened our eyes to how the other half (or more accurately 99 percent) live and how dependent we are on them for our own survival.
These tax increases are the smallest personal sacrifice, all things considered. And if you’re right on the edge of Biden’s tax and spend bracket, you can always increase your charitable deductions (and still give your nanny a raise). Everyone wins!
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