The war on wealth

If the Democrats do manage to unseat Donald Trump next year you can expect a lot of changes. We can’t be sure what all of them will be yet, but one is a near certainty. Most of the serious contenders for the nomination have a plan to drastically raise taxes on “the wealthy.” Some, like Elizabeth Warren, are suggesting a straight-up “wealth tax” based on your total holdings, draining away all that excess cash the government doesn’t feel you need and redistributing it. Fortunately, that idea has some serious constitutional holes in it and would be unlikely to withstand a challenge.

But Bernie Sanders is talking about taking a different route. He wants to revamp the death tax (Democrats prefer to call it the estate tax) and put it on steroids. He would slash the minimum estate value subject to plundering by nearly $20 million and jack up the tax rate to 45%. This is an idea that the Washington Post editorial board is really excited about.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) entered the scene Thursday with a better plan: substantially hiking the estate tax on huge inheritances, an alternative to taxing someone’s fortune during his or her lifetime…

Mr. Sanders wants to roll back the GOP reform — and more. He would insist that estates worth more than $3.5 million pay at least 45 percent on money over that threshold, with higher tax brackets scaled to the size of the fortune in question. The rate would be 77 percent — the top rate from 1941 to 1976 — on estates worth more than $1 billion. Because such a plan would spur estate planners to seek legally creative ways to avoid inheritance taxes, Mr. Sanders would also close some loopholes currently used as tax avoidance vehicles. Mr. Sanders estimates that his plan would raise $315 billion over a decade.

And what reason does the WaPo give for endorsing such an idea? The revenue is “badly needed” to counter the nation’s growing debt. Seriously? Now you’re suddenly becoming deficit hawks? (Unmentioned in the editorial is the fact that all the socialist plans the Democrats are chattering about would take our disastrous debts levels of today and explode them into the stratosphere.)

The entire idea of the estate tax is wrong, to begin with, and the WaPo’s defense of it is disingenuous. They toss about phrases describing any wealth a family accumulates and passes on to their children as, “their unearned head start over their less fortunate cohort.” But not a cent of that wealth was “unearned” even if it wasn’t the children who directly earned it. And all of that wealth was already taxed. Further, claiming (as they do) that it’s better to take the money after someone dies rather than while they’re alive is insulting. Sure… instead of punishing the living person for having been too successful, you’ll just show up at the funeral and rob the spouse and the children while they’re grieving the loss of their loved one. Very generous of you.

But this is only one small part of a larger picture. The Democratic message going into 2020 is that not only are wealthy people bad and not doing enough to fund socialist reform schemes, but the very idea of wealth is evil. That’s the case being made by Karol Markowicz at the New York Post this week.

The really noxious part is that it doesn’t matter how hard you work, or what you achieve. According to the new far-left Dems, President Barack Obama was right: “You didn’t build that.” Their goal is to maximize what they suck from taxpayers and then spend it, and if you use what that money bought — schools, roads, housing — you’re a moocher.

Nor dare anyone criticize Dems’ money-grabbing: When Mike Bloom­berg took issue with Warren’s plan, she shot back that he and Schultz “want to keep a rigged system in place that benefits only them and their buddies.”

Never mind that Bloomberg and Schultz are mostly on Warren’s side politically and have spent their money in ways she would approve of.

Yes, the outrage about wealth is selective. As Markowicz points out, nobody is tracking the fortunes of Oprah or Tom Steyer and complaining how much they’re hoarding. And they didn’t use to carp about Howard Schultz until he recently ticked them off with his independent presidential ideas. They definitely prefer to go after conservatives. But if they take back control of the government and that ax is raised, it’s going to fall on everyone who has had any measure of success.

Forget about the war on drugs, the war on women or any of the old slogans. It’s 2019 and it’s time for the war on wealth.