The young lady from the Bronx attended the Metropolitan Opera House Gala, a scene one imagines Vladimir Lenin and Che Guevarra not fitting into so easily, earlier this week.
Call it radical chic-redux.
Like Megan Rapinoe’s clutch reading “In Gay We Trust” and Cara Delevingne’s Dior-designed “Peg the Patriarchy” vest, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made a fashion out of her fashionable politics by wearing a white dress with “Tax the Rich” inscribed in red on it.
The message seemed a peculiar one at a $30,000-a-head vegetarian dinner described by Vogue as “Bengtsson and Park’s creamy barley with corn, pickled turnips, and roasted maitake, followed by Raquel’s ‘Apple’: apple mousse and apple confit with a calvados glaze — served in the shape of its namesake fruit.” One struggles to find any of Joe Manchin’s blue-collar constituents knowing what maitake is let alone eating it amid that sea of Anna Wintour, Kristen Stewart, Gigi Hadid, and Justin Bieber.
AOC’s dress obliquely referenced the current spending bill that finds a roadblock in the form of Senator Manchin, a recent punching bag for House leftists. Democrats strangely wrote their $3.5 trillion tax-the-rich bill for the Met’s beautiful people rather than Manchin’s coal miners. They wonder why Democrats in red or rural districts regard it suspiciously.
The bill certainly does what AOC’s dress promises. The wealthy find disincentives for further success in the legislation. Punishments include top marginal rates rising to 39.6 from 37 percent, a three percent surcharge on the super-wealthy that effectively pushes the top rate to 42.6 percent, the death-tax exemption shrinking to roughly half its current amount, and the top capital gains rate ballooning from 20 percent to 25 percent.
But deeper in the weeds of the House Ways and Means Committee’s 18-page summary one finds the Democrats picking familiar winners and losers based not on income status but voting patterns. Who knows what kind of reward-friends-punish-enemies surprises await in the text of the actual bill?
One provision “doubles the current rate of excise taxes on cigarettes, small cigars, and roll-your-own tobacco” (Manchin’s West Virginia smokes cigarettes at a rate higher than any other state). The bill singles out private prisons, an industry disproportionately benefiting rural states, by decreeing that the “income received with respect to property primarily used as a prison or other detention facility does not qualify” for exemptions for Real Estate Investment Trusts.
While the legislation harms smokers and prison guards, it benefits journalists, tax collectors, and rappers.
May we call it the Nicki Minaj Provision — the Met’s Baby Faucis did not let her unvaccinated self into their party — that allows “taxpayers to treat as currently deductible expenses the cost of qualified sound recording productions not exceeding $150,000 in a taxable year”? The Fake News Subsection grants a tax credit for those “publishing a local newspaper that serves the needs of a regional or local community and who employs no more than 750 employees.” The Declare the Pennies on Your Eyes Clause appropriates $79 billion to the IRS, which, with all these new laws, will need every last dime of it to track you down in the darkest corners of the tax-code labyrinth.
This one bill equals the cost of the entire federal budget during Barack Obama’s first year in the White House. More significantly, it exceeds all of the federal government’s 2020 receipts. Yes, even with all the new taxes — more than 40 by the count of Politico’s Brian Faler — it adds to a national debt fast approaching $29 trillion. It does this, significantly, at the expense of dollars in our pockets by essentially creating money through the Fed to lend to the Treasury to pay for all this. Two years ago, the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet stood under $3.8 trillion. It now exceeds $8.4 trillion. The dramatic spike in the money supply predictably led to a dramatic spike in inflation, which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, came in at an annualized rate of 5.3 percent in August.
“Steal from retirees on fixed incomes” did not make it onto any dresses at the Met Gala. That phrase surely describes the bill as accurately as “Tax the Rich.”
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