Weighing in on the importance of his campaign, presidential hopeful and self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders noted if his campaign fails, it’s not just a reflection on him but also a reflection on his ideas.
“If I do badly, and I don’t run a good campaign, and we don’t get our message out, and we don’t bring people together, it reflects not just on me, but on the ideas that I’m talking about,” Sanders told CNBC.
True to his socialist beliefs, the Vermont senator has made retribution of wealth a main point of his campaign. If elected president he wants to use tax policy to reverse what he sees as a massive transfer of wealth to the richest Americans.
“So to my mind, if you have seen a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top one-tenth of 1 percent, you know what, we’ve got to transfer that back if we’re going to have a vibrant middle class,” Sanders continued. “And you do that in a lot of ways. Certainly one way is tax policy.”
“We have people who are working two, three, four jobs, who can’t send their kids to college,” he also noted. “Sorry, you’re all going to have to pay your fair share of taxes. If my memory is correct, when radical socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, the highest marginal tax rate was something like 90 percent.”
However, many economists and lawmakers have taken issue with the idea of basing a modern tax increase, especially as high as 90 percent, on policies issued in the past. For instance, a congressional joint committee report from 2012 argued there are many more economic factors that must be considered with such a impactful policy stance.
“Many pundits and policy advocates claim history proves we can tax the rich with economic impunity,” the report detailed. “They base their claim on an historical comparison between the top statutory individual income tax rate and various economic indicators.”
“Yet this comparison is based on an incomplete and misleading measure of the overall tax burden,” the report continued. “Before Congress decides it can raise the top rate without any adverse effects, policy makers need to get the relevant facts about how taxes affect the economy.”
Nevertheless, Sanders has made wealth retribution a significant part of his political career, often making private sector companies the enemy of his crusade.
In 2013, he introduced the Corporate Tax Fairness Act which was designed to go after corporations that set up in countries with a less burdensome tax code. In 2010 he introduced a bill designed to restore the estate tax on billionaires and in 2014 he adamantly opposed a plan to cut taxes.
He has also tried to dismantle the banks and when Wal-Mart voluntarily agreed to raise wages for all its employees to $10 an hour by 2016, Sanders complained that it still wasn’t enough.
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