The following is an excellent article from the June 15, 2015 issue of The Progressive Populist from page 5 titled “Dispatches: Bernie’s Proudly As Radical As Ike” and I quote:
“BERNIE’S PROUDLY AS RADICAL AS IKE”
Sen. Bernie Sanders formally announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination with a rally in his hometown, Burlington, Vt., with Lake Champlain in the background (5/26), but Meteor Blades noted at DailyKos.com (5/27) that the traditional media coverage points out to what we can count on as long as the senator remains in the race.
“Everybody, Sanders included, knows his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination is a long shot. And his self-identification as a socialist makes him a perfect target for marginalization even though that socialism is actually social democratic and not the least bit radical by European standards,” Blades wrote.
“His proposed agenda is really not much more than what might be expected—80 years down the road—in an upgrade and modernization of the New Deal. Why this isn’t worth serious attention from what are supposed to be society’s watchdogs in an age when the right and its enablers are eagerly doing what they can to dismantle or defund New Deal programs says a lot about how concentrated ownership continues to undermine democracy.
“Big media apparently won’t stick with mere marginalization, however. They are determined to give us stuff like this grotesque piece by Jim Tankersley in the Washington Post (5/26)—‘Sorry, Bernie Sanders. Deodorant isn’t starving America’s children’.
“That most television coverage—including MSNBC—couldn’t bear to hang around for [all of] Sanders’s speech Tuesday demonstrates once again one of the reasons it’s so hard to have a real political discussion,” Blades wrote.
Simon Maloy wrote at Salon (5/27), “The Bernie 2016 boomlet is clearly a bit puzzling to reporters, who don’t seem to know what to do with Sanders beyond treating him as a foil to Hillary, and so they default to doing nothing, even as every utterance of GOP candidates who are polling below 2% merits its own headline. There are clear double standards at play, and one of them pertains to how reporters cover a candidate who is unreservedly liberal versus how they cover ‘proudly conservative’ Republicans. This dynamic is sometimes subtle, and it emerged during an interview Sanders gave with CNBC’s John Harwood.”
Income inequality and the distribution of wealth are two topics Sanders hammers away at constantly. During the interview with Harwood Sanders noted sarcastically, “When radical, socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, I think the highest marginal tax rate was something like 90%.” Sanders’ comment took Harwood aback. ‘When you think about something like 90%, you don’t think that’s obviously too high?’ Harwood asked. “No,” Bernie shot back.
Sanders’ endorsement of the Eisenhower-era tax structure also raised eyebrows at the New York Times, which observed that Sanders “doesn’t flinch over returning to the 90% personal income tax rates of the 1950s for top earners.” In these reactions, Maloy noted, “you can easily spy an undercurrent of incredulity that a politician would enthusiastically advocate for rich people to pay more—much, much more—in taxes.”
Bryce Covert noted at ThinkProgress.org (5/26) that the top marginal tax rate paid by the wealthiest Americans was was actually 92% in the 1950s. Today, the top marginal tax rate is 39.6%, although the richest 1% end up paying less than that on average and the average rate actually fell for many years.
Republicans have consistently claimed that higher tax rates on the wealthy will hold back economic growth, while lowering rates further will spur it forward. But that’s not likely the case, Covert noted. Last year, economists Fabian Kindermann and Dirk Krueger found that the point at which the top tax rate is high enough to maximize government revenues but not so high that it discourages the rich from trying to earn more is quite high: about 95% for the 1%. History bears that out, Covert noted. Economists have pointed out that post-war American growth has been higher during periods with much higher top marginal tax rates and lower when tax rates were substantially lower. When the top rate was more than 90% in the ’50s, economic growth averaged more than 4% a year. But recently when the top rate has been closer to 35%, growth has been less than 2% a year on average.
So far, Covert noted, many Republican presidential candidates have proposed a radically different approach: a flat tax. Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), and Ben Carson have all backed this idea. The details of each proposal differs, but the basic premise is an attempt to simplify the tax code by only having one rate that everyone pays, rather than the current system rates increase as income increases. An analysis of one flat tax plan put forward by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) found that it would raise taxes for those at the bottom of the income scale by between $102 and $462, while the tax bill for those making more than $1 mln a year would decrease by about a half million dollars.
It would also lower government revenue by between $500 bln and $1 tln a year. If a candidate wanted to maintain the current level of revenue, it would require taxing everyone, rich or poor, by at least 25%.”
(SENATOR SANDERS, WHO IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT, IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT WHEN HE SAYS THAT INCOME TAXES MUST BE BASED ON ABILITY TO PAY. IT WAS EFFECTIVE FOR DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT, HARRY TRUMAN AND REPUBLICAN DWIGHT EISENHOWER. I KNOW HE’S RIGHT BECAUSE I’M 80 YEARS OLD AND I REMEMBER HOW A FAIR INCOME TAX SYSTEM WORKS FOR EVERYBODY. AS FOR THE REPUBLICANS AND THE FLAT TAX, THEY’RE PROMOTING, IT WILL NEVER BRING ENOUGH REVENUE IN TO GET THE BILLS PAID BECAUSE THE FLAT TAX, AS I UNDERSTAND IT, DOESN’T TAX UNEARNED INCOME,WHICH GIVES A REAL ADVANTAGE TO THE WEALTHY BILLIONAIRES, WHO ALREADY HAVE A HUGE ADVANTAGE BECAUSE OF ALL THE INCOME TAX LOOPHOLES WHICH THEY HELPED CREATE. THIS MAKES A HUGE INEQUALITY BETWEEN THE RICH AND THE POOR AND STILL GROWING AND GETTING RIDICULOUS.
LaVern Isely, Progressive, Overtaxed, Independent Middle Class Taxpayer and Public Citizen and AARP Members