Bernie Sanders: A 90% tax rate sounds fine to me

posted at 10:41 am on May 26, 2015 by Jazz Shaw

This week Vermont Senator and self-avowed socialist Bernie Sanders sat down with CNBC’s John Harwood for an interview on the issues facing all the 2016 candidates. Sanders is technically running for President, and is at least keeping up the public appearance of being serious. (He told Harwood, I think we got a shot to win this thing.) With that in mind, I suppose it’s worth taking a moment to examine some of his answers and remind everyone exactly what’s lurking under the covers of the deep left wing of the Democrats.

While it may seem like a bit of a dog bites man story, Democrats are renowned for being in love with higher taxes. How does Bernie measure up on that score?

SANDERS: … If my memory is correct, when radical socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, the highest marginal tax rate was something like 90 percent.

HARWOOD: When you think about 90 percent, you don’t think that’s obviously too high?

SANDERS: No. That’s not 90 percent of your income, you know? That’s the marginal. I’m sure you have some really right-wing nut types, but I’m not sure that every very wealthy person feels that it’s the worst thing in the world for them to pay more in taxes, to be honest with you. I think you’ve got a lot of millionaires saying, “You know what? I’ve made a whole lot of money. I don’t want to see kids go hungry in America. Yeah, I’ll pay my fair share.”

A ninety percent tax rate. Think about that for a moment. Even the worst tax and spenders in the mainstream of the Democrat Party would never say that aloud, but Bernie Sanders at least can boast of the virtue of honesty. He’s willing to have the government come and take ninety cents out of every dollar you earn if you commit the sin of being too successful in modern America. I’m the first to admit that I’ve expressed many doubts about the practical effectiveness of the Laffer Curve in real world economics, but I’m confident that 90% falls pretty far down the starboard side of that one.

Bernie Sanders also feels that everyone is lying to the American public. But who are the liars?

HARWOOD: I read an interview that you did about the corporate media. And you said the corporate media was reluctant to call out people for lying in public debates. You’re on corporate media right now. Who’s lying in our politics?

SANDERS: I’m the ranking member of the Budget Committee, OK? Leader of the opposition. The Republican budget does the following: It throws 27 million people off of health care by ending the Affordable Care Act and cutting Medicaid by $440 billion. Have you seen that in print? Have you seen that statement? There is a reality that goes on here. And you have many people who try to be, “Oh, I’ve got to be even-handed here and even-handed there. You got the Koch Brothers there, Bernie Sanders there.” That’s nonsense. And I think a lot of right-wing people get away with murder because the media doesn’t call them out on it.

There’s a line to be drawn between healthy skepticism and outright paranoia. Wherever it is that Bernie Sanders lives inside his head, he can no longer even see that line. Some of this interview reads like a transcription of a doctor’s interview with a mental patient.

Even CBS News has had trouble painting him as anything other than fringe. Let’s remember a few of his favorite proposals from the past.

He was one of the founding members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. He’s warned colleagues against being too friendly to the interests of corporate America, criticizing the close ties between some Democrats and Wall Street. He supports Obamacare but would elect to go further and institute a single-payer healthcare system. He’s proposed a $1 trillion infrastructure funding bill. He’s called for a $15 dollar an hour minimum wage, far exceeding President Obama’s proposal to hike the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. He’s proposed expanding Social Security benefits and paying for it by raising taxes.

Sanders still gets an F from the NRA on gun control, though curiously he has voted on the right side of some Second Amendment issues, leading observers to call him the Second Amendment Socialist. He’s called for the seizure and nationalization of the oil and gas industry, and wants to break up the banks. The guy is so far to the Left that he wouldn’t even officially associate himself with the Democrats until he decided to run for President.

What’s the point of all this? Look… I understand that cable news has a lot of hours to fill every day, but continuing to treat Bernie Sanders as a legitimate challenger to Hillary Clinton and a viable candidate for the presidency is a disservice to the public. The man couldn’t be elected anywhere outside of Vermont and it’s time to lump him in with Vermin Supreme where he belongs.

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Actually it makes you a parasite, but I can see where the two are confused.

Tlaloc on May 26, 2015 at 4:59 PM

In Tlaloc’s topsy turvy upside down world not giving your money to the government makes you a parasite, and not the other way around. Tlaloc old buddy why don’t you tell us how much money you’ve voluntarily sent to Uncle Sam. You’re so willing to volunteer ours that I’m assuming you’ve donated a lot of money.

DFCtomm on May 26, 2015 at 6:36 PM

Bernie Sanders is great to have on the debate stage because he says out loud what the Socialist Democrat Party truly believes.

sauldalinsky on May 26, 2015 at 6:49 PM

Because not wanting to pay more taxes makes me a “right-wing nut type?”


morganfrost on May 26, 2015 at 10:52 AM

Actually it makes you a parasite, but I can see where the two are confused.

Tiaioc on May 26, 2015 at 4:59 PM

You’re an idiot, Lumpy. Only inside the vacuous wasteland of your cranium can such a thought be formed.

tanked59 on May 26, 2015 at 6:54 PM

To the communists posting here. Tell me. What was a more successful place. East Berlin or West Berlin?

The Notorious G.O.P on May 26, 2015 at 7:16 PM

Okay. Thinking about a 90% marginal tax rate (you left that word out, I have to assume intentionally to try and pretend people would be taxed 90% of all their income which of course is a lie).

Yeah, no problem with Bernie at all on this one.

Tlaloc on May 26, 2015 at 4:52 PM

Hey, at least it’s not the 100% tax touted in the dreams of one of President Obama’s fathers, right?

Star Bird on May 26, 2015 at 7:41 PM

Well, tlaloc, I suppose you must consider Justice Learned Hand a *real* parasite then…………..

Over and over again courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging one’s affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everybody does so, rich or poor; and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands: taxes are enforced exactions, not voluntary contributions. To demand more in the name of morals is mere cant.
Commissioner v. Newman, 159 F2d 848 (1947).

You just keep your poor little hypocritical pinhead tucked safely up your rectum, lil fella.

Solaratov on May 26, 2015 at 7:43 PM

Actually it makes you a parasite, but I can see where the two are confused.

Tlaloc on May 26, 2015 at 4:59 PM

Your perception of reality is inverted, because of the incorrect ideology you subscribe to.

Remember Tlaloc, there is no more parasitical a creature than the socialist, whose hands are constantly in the pockets of other people. If leftists weren’t parasites, then they’d be focusing on generating their own wealth, rather than devoting all their efforts to dream up rationalizations for government sanctioned petty theft.

Star Bird on May 26, 2015 at 7:44 PM

I think the real story with Bernie Sanders though, is that finally a socialist is willing to openly admit to their natural aversion to deodorant.

Star Bird on May 26, 2015 at 7:47 PM

All right, Bernie Sanders, let’s eliminate all wealth. It’s for the children, right?

DevilishSoda on May 26, 2015 at 8:17 PM

I wonder if Sanders would fall into that 90% bracket?

Obvious problems with this not addressed …

People earning that much annually often don’t earn it via payroll but other means (cap gains, etc.) and have various ways of mitigating it

If you know what the rate is and think there’s a chance your income might hit that bracket, you plan early on not to make that much so you avoid that rate.

Moron Labe on May 26, 2015 at 8:17 PM

I wonder if Sanders would fall into that 90% bracket?

Moron Labe on May 26, 2015 at 8:17 PM

How do you know that he’s not as dead broke as Hillary Clinton?

Star Bird on May 26, 2015 at 8:48 PM

Let me tell you how it will be
There’s one for you, nineteen for me
‘Cuz I’m the taxman

The Beatles wrote about when Britain’s top tax rate was 95%.

Socratease on May 26, 2015 at 9:51 PM

What a jack – hole.

S. D. on May 26, 2015 at 9:58 PM

Didn’t Obama’s father pen an essay advocating a 100% tax rate?

nazo311 on May 26, 2015 at 10:35 PM

Yeah, no problem with Bernie at all on this one.

Raise the U.S.S. Liberty! on May 26, 2015 at 4:52 PM

Bernie Sanders’ Wife May Have Defrauded State Agency, Bank

Should she be “deposed” now, or should we “depose” her later?


Del Dolemonte on May 26, 2015 at 11:16 PM

He is right about Eisenhower. But Eisenhower inherited the income tax rate established by FDR, 94% on income over $200,000, and promptly knocked it down to 91% on income over $400,000 by the end of his time in office.

It took Ronald Reagan to put a real dent in the marginal rates.

unclesmrgol on May 27, 2015 at 12:05 AM

But Eisenhower inherited the income tax rate established by FDR, 94% on income over $200,000, and promptly knocked it down to 91% on income over $400,000 by the end of his time in office.

$200K in those days (’30s-’50s) was probably the equivalent of over $1M in today’s money. So it wouldn’t even have affected 1/100th of 1% of the people at most.

Sanders didn’t specify what bracket he wants the 90% to kick in, but I suspect given his socialistic leanings it would be somewhat less than $1M. Probably $200K and up in current dollars which would hit a lot more people than it did fifty years ago.

Again, anyone close to the bracket line would know enough to keep their income just below it.

Moron Labe on May 27, 2015 at 12:48 AM

Bernie belongs in a mental institution if he thinks he’s got a real shot at this. He has about as much chance as a snowball in hell remaining a snowball. He’s not even a true believer in whatever it is he thinks he believes in and is just throwing out stuff for consumption by the media.

Kissmygrits on May 27, 2015 at 8:39 AM

Hollande only went for 75% when he took over in France and he had rich folks starting to leave.

mdavt on May 27, 2015 at 9:07 AM

The top federal capital gains rate in the 1950s was 25%. And, the Social Security tax was only around 2% on around $4 thousand of your earnings, there was no Medicare Tax. It was different era when the middle class was not taxed to death and you could do your own taxes. The tax code was not that difficult to understand. The very rich converted their income into capital gains and avoided paying the very high income tax rate ……………. when they could. My parents $25K house today is selling for around 600K. Bernie Sanders is Democrat jackass.

SC.Charlie on May 27, 2015 at 9:57 AM

Okay. Thinking about a 90% marginal tax rate (you left that word out, I have to assume intentionally to try and pretend people would be taxed 90% of all their income which of course is a lie).

Tlaloc on May 26, 2015 at 4:52 PM

This was already addressed above. The argument against a 90% marginal rate DOES NOT rely on it being 90% of all income.

But you keep pushing the massive tax savings higher earners get from that 10% of the first $10/18k if it makes you feel better.

In the meantime, unless and until you can justify your prior assertions (for example, US Congresspersons sending out emails of Obama as a witch doctor, US Senators amending the human trafficking bill, Republicans embracing the KKK because they were a larger voting block than the black population), you’re in a poor position to accuse anyone else of dishonest statements.

The Schaef on May 27, 2015 at 10:43 AM

I suppose it is natural that Sanders is okay with a 90% top marginal rate. He assumes that there will be no significant negative impacts to that. If you can make that assumption then any counter argument about negative impacts can be disregarded.

Russ808 on May 27, 2015 at 4:24 PM

I assume Bernie Sanders is leading by example and giving 90% of his income straight to the IRS, right?


MattTrey on May 27, 2015 at 5:11 PM

The US govt used to train us and send us overseas to kill commie thugs. Now they run for president and openly advocate the overthrow of the Constitution and free enterprise. Guess now we won’t have to travel so far….

devan95 on May 28, 2015 at 9:59 AM