The Truth About Elizabeth Warren's and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Wealth Tax Proposals

Who would they affect?

There has been a lot of recent buzz about the idea of a "wealth tax" in the United States, particularly since Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York appeared on "60 Minutes" and laid out a plan that would tax the richest Americans at a rate as high as 70%, nearly doubling the current 37% top rate. Additionally, 2020 Democratic Presidental candidate and Massachusetts senator, Elizabeth Warren, is reportedly working with UC Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman to design a proposal to levy a wealth tax on Americans with fortunes over $50 million. While these numbers may seem difficult to grasp, the kinds of wealth taxes democrats are proposing are not only not as extreme as they sound, but already practiced successfully in other parts of the world.

Firstly, it's important to keep in mind that America operates on a progressive tax system, meaning, as Business Insider puts it, "as a person earns more and progresses through tax brackets, their tax rate increases for each level of income." So while many people balked at the idea of a 70% flat tax rate, Ocasio-Cortez clarified "Once you get to the tippy-tops, on your 10 millionth dollar, sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60% or 70%," she said. "That doesn't mean all $10 million are taxed at an extremely high rate. But it means that as you climb up this ladder, you should be contributing more." Essentially, the rich would not suddenly be destitute under this proposed plan; they would merely have to contribute an increasing amount as their fortune grew. So it wouldn't be the entirety of their $10 million fortune that would be taxed at 70%, but their 10 millionth dollar. While under Warren's proposal, the US would adopt a progressive wealth tax that would levy a 2 percent tax on fortunes worth more than $50 million, and a 3 percent tax on fortunes worth more than $1 billion, meaning billionaires would contribute amounts that are negligible in the context of their total fortune.


This would be similar to France's wealth tax policy, which is triggered at €1.3 million, but only the first €800,000 of this amount is tax free, and taxpayers pay between 0.5% and 1.5% on anything over this each year. This tax has worked successfully in France, despite it being applied to significantly lower amounts of wealth than Elizabeth Warren is proposing. Meanwhile, in Denmark, the highest tax bracket sees about 15% taxation, and citizens report great satisfaction in terms of quality of life and government services. In summary, wealth taxes are a simple and effective way to ensure that wealth does not become too heavily monopolized by a few people, while also ensuring that the poorest people are taken care of by the state.


But some don't see it that way, with many on the right reacting strongly to suggestions of an American wealth tax. House Republican whip Steve Scalise called Ocasio-Cortez's idea a "leftist fantasy program," while more moderate voices didn't react quite as strongly, but still suggested that while income tax laws definitely need to be reformed, a wealth tax is not the way to do it.

But to truly understand the argument, one has to compare what a wealth tax would mean to a real life billionaire, vs. what it would mean for the country. For example, with Warren's plan, only an approximate 75,000 families would be minorly affected, but the United States would earn an additional $2.75 trillion over a 10-year period. If you take the $57 billion fortune of Mark Zuckerberg, and apply this tax idea, he would only be taxed $1.7 billion, and then close to $0 in the following years if his fortune didn't continue to accumulate. For him, $1.7 billion is a small number that would in no way affect his quality of life. But if you think of the social services that would benefit from that $1.7 billion, you would undoubtedly see widespread effects improving the lives of the poorest Americans, making it difficult to argue that an American wealth tax would do anything but help the state of the nation.

The US Hasn't Gone More Than 5 Days Without a Deadly Mass Shooting in 2018

Last night's deadly incident is only the latest in a year of mass shootings

In the final hours of November 7, 2018, a 28-year-old white male entered the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California and opened fire. Twelve people were killed as a result.

There is no broadly-accepted definition of a mass shooting. A 2013 federal mandate defines a mass shooting as a single incident that results in the death of three individuals. The Gun Violence Archive uses the barometer of four or more people shot and/or killed during a single incident.* By this measure, there have been 307 such incidents in 2018 alone. The longest span of time between mass shootings this year has been five days. This is 2018 in mass shooting casualties:**

Date

Location

Add'l Injured

Killed

January 1

Huntsville, AL

3

Adrian Jashawn Porter, 21

January 4

Brinkley, AK

3

Xavier Parker, 33

January 7

Union Springs, AL

5

Unknown Victim

January 11

St Robert, MO

2

Jonathan Graham, 24

Sherry Gann, 53

January 12

Nashville, TN

2

Samaii Daniel, 5

Sammarre Daniel, 8

Robert Payne, 70

January 14

Eutaw, AL

4

Mandel L. Pearson, 36

January 17

Washington, DC

3

Jasmine Lashai Light, 23

January 23

Benton, KY

14

Preston Ryan Cope, 15

Bailey Nicole Holt, 15

January 28

Indianapolis, IN

3

James Ratcliffe, 50

Deron Gray, 24

January 28

Reading, PA

0

Jarlyn Lantigua-Tejada, 20

Joshua Santos, 20

Juan Rodriguez, 23

Nelson Onofre, 23

January 28

Melcroft, PA

1

William Scott Porterfield, 29

Seth William Cline, 21

Chelsia Lou Cline, 25

Courtney Sue Snyder, 23

February 3

Cleveland, OH

5

Michael Jones, Jr., 22

February 5

Colorado Springs, CO

4

Deputy Micah Flick, 34

February 7

Lake Worth, FL

3

Edvin Milkevic, 29

Nicole Novak, 27

February 10

Paintsville, KY

0

James Wayne Nickell, 75

Arlene Nickell, 70

Lindsay Vanhoose, 41

Patricia Vanhoose, 57

February 11

Detroit, MI

3

Patricia Williams Wilson, 62

Barbara Williams

Cynthia Williams

February 13

New Orleans, LA

3

Byron Jackson, 21

Jamar Robinson, 26

February 14

Parkland, FL

17

Scott Biegel, 35

Martin Duque Anguiano, 14

Nicholas Dworet, 17

Aaron Feis, 37

Jaime Guttenberg, 14

Alyssa Alhadeff, 15

Christopher Hixon, 49

Luke Hoyer, 15

Cara Loughran, 14

Gina Montalto, 14

Joaquin Oliver, 17

Alaina Petty, 14

Alexander Schachter, 14

Carmen Schentrup, 16

Meadow Pollack, 18

Peter Wang, 15

Helena Ramsay, 17

February 16

Oklahoma City, OK

3

Aubry Johnson, 66

February 17

Kansas City, KS

7

Kevin Forman, 28

February 23

Palm Beach, FL

3

William Burgess II, 28

February 26

Detroit, MI

0

Cierra Bargineer, 26

Raphael Hall, 60

Kristen Thomas, 21

Jaymon Thomas, 22

March 3

Brooklyn, NY

3

Unidentified Adult Male, 20s

March 4

Rockford, IL

3

Theodore Daniel, 31

March 7

Hurtsboro, AL

2

Donald Hughes

John Williams, 74

March 9

Wadesboro, NC

1

Jacques McBride, 22

Mareco McNair, 33

Unidentified Adult Male

March 11

Champaign, IL

3

Montrex Vonner, 34

March 29

Plano, TX

3

Quintarius Young, 29

April 1

Mobile, AL

4

Anesa Baker, 15

April 2

Houston, TX

3

Unidentified Adult Male

April 4

New Orleans, LA

2

Ryan Massey, 25

Carlos Rodrique, 33

April 6

Virginia Beach, VA

3

Rakel Ramel Mason, 41

April 8

Miami, FL

2

Rickey Dixon, 18

Kimson Green, 16

April 8

Hickory, NC

3

Antonio Knoshjun Watts, 20

April 18

Asheville, NC

3

Erica Nichelle Smith, 32

Keithan Whitmire, 15

Harmony Smith, 13

April 20

San Francisco, CA

5

Unidentified Adult Male

April 21

Philadelphia, PA

2

Viktoriya Manasyan, 20

Rashawn Tahir Miller, 21

April 22

Antioch, TN

3

Taurean C. Sanderlin, 29

Joe R. Perez, 20

DeEbony Groves, 21

Akilah Dasilva, 23

April 22

New Orleans, LA

5

Lil' Ricky Goins, 38

April 25

St Louis, MO

1

Timothy Solano, 20

Brandon Stephenson, 36

Melissa Tierney, 40

April 29

West Palm Beach, FL

3

Kassandra Yamileth Morales, 24

April 29

Monroe, NC

3

David Duncan, Jr., 22

April 29

Seattle, WA

2

Deondre Cabine, 24

Charles Ray Justice, 35

May 2

Brooklyn, NY

4

Unidentified Adult Male, 18

May 2

Chicago, IL

4

Nakia Bailey, 21

May 6

Memphis, TN

4

Dejuan Hill, 18

Deandre Doyle Rogers, 18

May 13

Los Angeles, CA

2

Lamarion Upchurch, 15

Unidentified Adult Male, 25

Unidentified Adult Male, 25

May 13

Stockton, CA

2

Joe C. Lor, 22

Gina Xiong, 22

Kayleen Lor, 5

May 16

Ponder, TX

1

Seth Richardson, 29

Drake Alexander Painter, 4

Caydence Nicole Painter, 6

Odin Tyler Painter, 8

May 18

Santa Fe, TX

13

Glenda Ann Perkins, 64

Sabika Sheikh, 18

Cynthia Tisdale, 67

Christopher Jake Stone, 17

Shana Fisher, 16

Angelique Ramierz, 15

Jared Conrad Black, 17

Aaron Kyle McLeod, 15

Kimberly Jessica Vaughan

Christian Riley Garcia, 15

May 20

Hazelhurst, MI

7

Jonathan Miller, 26

May 27

Aurora, CO

3

Dejon Andre Leon Williams, 37

May 31

Timmonsville, SC

2

Cheresse Lutricia Jackson, 39

Breyanna Priscilla Jackson, 11

Nykerria Shanyia Jackson, 14

June 2

Omaha, NE

6

Jasmine Harris, 20

June 3

Chicago, IL

3

Ari Armour, 35

June 5

Jacksonville, FL

1

Trevon Bullard, 18

Jercoby Groover, 19

Royale D'Von Smith, Jr., 18

June 9

Philadelphia, PA

4

Kameron Gilfillian, 21

June 10

Chicago, IL

5

Tyrone White, 39

June 10

Bloomington, IL

2

Steven Alexander, Jr., 18

Taneshiea Brown, 20

June 10

Indianapolis, IN

4

Daron 'Manny' Johnson, 14

June 10

Bradenton, FL

5

Gabriel Conde, 39

June 11

Orlando, FL

1

Dove Lindsey, 1

Aidan Lindsey, 6

Lillia Lopez, 10

Irayan Lopez, 12

June 14

Westminster, CO

3

Vaughn Bigelow, 13

June 14

Buffalo, NY

4

Unidentified Adult Male, 38

June 14

Tracy, CA

4

Emilio Gerardo Enriquez Almanza, 15

June 17

Macon, GA

3

Calvin Bernard Harvey, 16

June 18

Chicago, IL

3

Shalonza E. McToy, 22

Erin Casey, 17

June 18

Bloomington, IL

1

Corey D. Jackson, 22

Nathaniel A. Pena, 22

Juan C. Perez-Macedo, 33

June 21

San Bernadino, CA

3

Alize Ross, 20

June 22

Homestead, PA

3

Jazmere Brianna Custis, 19

June 23

Chicago, IL

4

Michael Sutton, Jr., 50

June 24

Gary, Indiana

3

Jazaniel Davis, 19

June 24

Palm Beach Gardens, FL

3

Timothy James Frederick, 19

June 24

Sanford, NC

6

Travis Jamarian Mclean, 27

June 27

Oakland, CA

3

Derick Alexander, 18

June 28

Annapolis, MD

0

Wendi Winters, 65

Rebecca Smith, 34

Robert Hiaasen, 59

Gerald Fischman, 61

John McNamara, 56

June 30

Ashburn, GA

6

Za'quavia Smith, 21

July 2

Buffalo, NY

2

Yvette Johnson, 54

Kyrie Johnson, 1

July 3

St Louis, MO

5

Stanley Sparking, 40

July 4

Atlanta, GA

3

Curtis Lamar Wright, 25

July 4

Gary, IN

3

Jessie Brown, 29

July 5

Lima, OH

5

Carrington Lott, 23

July 5

Los Angeles, CA

3

Unidentified Adult Male

Unidentified Adult Male

Unidentified Adult Female

July 7

Wetumpka, AL

2

Charlene Ann Orsi, 44

Cadence Rose Orsi, 12

July 9

Orlando, FL

4

Edgar Rivera, 20

July 9

Wilmington, DE

0

Julie Burton Edwards, 41

Jacob Edwards, 6

Brinley Edwards, 4

Paxton Edwards, 3

July 13

Richmond, VA

3

Terrance C. Peters, 46

July 16

Philadelphia, PA

4

Tyree Bates, 14

July 16

Washington, DC

4

Mikiyah Wilson, 10

July 16

Palm Beach Gardens, FL

4

Norriesha L. Hills, 22

Jamal Forrest, 21

July 20

Sunnyside, WA

4

Unidentified Adult Male, 23

July 21

Chicago, IL

5

Tavish Harris, 30

Kevontay Montgomery, 22

July 26

Oakland, CA

2

Unidentified Adult Female, 21

Unidentified Adult Male, 19

July 26

Cleveland, OH

6

Cortez Ruffin, 27

July 27

Robstown, TX

0

Thelma Montalvo

Ernest Starry, 85

Isaiah Starry, 13

Roel Mireles, 41

July 28

Los Angeles, CA

4

Juan Lopez, 23

Unidentified Adult Female, 19

July 28

New Orleans, LA

7

Kurshaw "Twin" Jackson, 38

Jeremiah "Zippa" Lee, 28

Taiesha Watkins, 27

July 29

Phoenix, AZ

4

Jessuh Williams, 37

July 31

Gardena, CA

3

Delores Sanchez, 28

Francisco Rafael Montes, 28

August 4

Chicago, IL

3

Donald Norris, 19

August 5

Chicago, IL

5

Jahnae Patterson, 17

August 5

Chicago, IL

4

Charles Green, 32

August 8

Philadelphia, PA

4

Averill "General Reezy" Davenport, 34

Niesha Cooper, 32

August 11

Thornton, CO

3

Brenda Martinez, 37

August 11

San Francisco, CA

4

Gerson Romero, 19

August 12

Clearlake, CA

1

Unidentified Child, 2

Unidentified Child, 4

Unidentified Child, <1

August 20

Cleveland, OH

3

Jaylin Glanton, 26

August 20

Jackson, TN

4

Braxton Watkins, 20

August 25

Nashville, TN

4

Mansfield Rutherford, 22

August 26

Wichita Falls, TX

3

Davonta Jason Combs, 26

August 26

Jacksonville, FL

9

Taylore Robertson, 27

Eli Clayton, 22

August 27

Pine Bluff, AK

3

Antonio Brown, 36

August 31

Aurora, CO

3

Anthoni Readus, 26

Wayne Carter, 19

September 1

Ft Lauderdale, FL

3

Dwayne Smith, 34

September 1

Cleveland, OH

7

Theresa Goldwin, 29

September 2

Paterson, NJ

2

Daryl Tann, 48

Nykeema Kersey, 33

September 6

Cincinnati, OH

2

Richard Newcomer, 64

Pruthvi Raj Kandepi, 25

Luis Felipe Calderon, 48

September 7

Minneapolis, MN

3

Steven L. Fields, 42

September 9

Auburn, AL

4

Evan Mikale Wilson, 20

September 9

Elgin, IL

4

Sharpie Smith-Tate, 25

September 12

Bakersfield, CA

0

Eliseo Garcia, 57

Laura Garcia, 31

Antonio Valdez, 50

Emanuel Contreras, 50

Petra Maribel Bellanos Casarez, 45

September 17

Silver Spring, MD

0

Sang Yeon Kim, 48

Unidentified Adult Female, 22

Mina Kim, 11

Andy Kim, 10

September 20

Aberdeen, MD

3

Sunday Aguda, 45

Bromdra Giri, 41

Hayleen Reyes, 41

September 23

Bakersfield, CA

4

Jeremy Charles Littlejohn, 20

September 24

Memphis, TN

2

Calitri Boone, 17

Jessie Williams, 30

Unidentified Adult Male, 37

September 28

Philadelphia, PA

2

Unidentified Adult Male, 24

September 29

Orlando, FL

4

Ruby Steplight, 83

September 30

Compton, CA

3

Chloe Hunter, 17

October 1

Chicago, IL

2

Steve Nixon, 31

Bruce Y. Miller, 29

October 3

Philadelphia, PA

4

Unidentified Adult Male, 20

October 3

Florence, SC

6

Investigator Farrah Turner, 36

Officer Terrence Carraway, 52

October 4

Espanola, NM

3

Cameron Martinez, 18

October 6

Houston, TX

3

Decarlo Washington

October 13

Taft, TX

1

Juan Espinoza, Sr., 62

Juan Sandoval III, 20

Jeremy Sandoval, 22

Nicky Sandoval, 20

October 14

Las Vegas, NV

1

Susan Nash, 52

Dejona'e Nash, 20

Deonte' Nash, 31

October 14

Palo Alto, CA

2

Eduardo Sandoval, 22

Mario Vidales Mendez, 23

October 15

Columbia, TN

0

Kaileigh Lin, 17

Bo Li, 14

Meigan Lin, 14

Lia Li, 15

October 21

Lakewood, WA

3

Terrence King, 28

October 21

Jacksonville, FL

5

Robert Lee Williams, 76

October 26

Jersey City, NJ

3

Jade Saunders, 17

October 27

Pittsburgh, PA

7

Richard Gottfried, 65

Jerry Rabinowitz, 66

Cecil Rosenthal, 59

David Rosenthal, 54

Sylvan Simon, 87

Daniel Stein, 71

Melvin Wax, 88

Irving Younger, 69

Joyce Fienberg, 75

Rose Mallinger, 97

Bernice Simon, 84

October 28

El Dorado, AK

2

Darrischica Rogers, 30

Aric Hall, 28

October 30

Vallejo, CA

3

Bobby Beasley, 32

De'Angelo Quinn, 26

October 31

Detroit, MI

3

Unidentified Male Child, 15

November 1

Springfield, MO

2

Aaron Hampton, 23

Steven Marler, 38

November 2

Tallahassee, FL

5

Maura Binkley, 21

Nancy Van Vessem, 61

November 8

Thousand Oaks, CA

10

Deputy Sgt Ron Helus, 54

Cody Coffman, 22

Tim Munson, 19

Authorities have not yet released the names of the 10 additional victims

*Because the number of injuries caused by gun violence has increased consistently in the last four years, and because a human life should not be the lowest bar necessary to surpass for the public to take notice, we will be using the GVA definition in this report.

**As the Gun Violence Archive excludes perpetrators from their definition of mass shootings, so too have we excluded the names of those responsible.

Rebecca Linde is a writer and cultural critic in NYC. She tweets about pop culture and television @rklinde.