Donald Trump has had few success stories in his presidency, but one thing he was lauded for by wealthy and upper middle-class Americans was his new tax code. If you’re wondering why so many rich people support him and turn a blind eye to his heinously racist and homophobic and kill-the-planet policies, it’s because he has been making them all a whole lot of money. Wealth disparity is a huge issue in the U.S., and there is a lot written about how much it has changed in the last five decades.
This tweet from New York Times op-ed columnist David Leonhardt shows just how drastic things really are. For the first time on record, the 400 wealthiest Americans paid less in taxes than anyone else:
Last year, for the first time on record, the 400 wealthiest Americans paid a lower total tax rate than any other income group. https://t.co/i9thIFaCRJ— David Leonhardt (@DLeonhardt) October 6, 2019
Leonhardt wrote a column for the NYT about the change, sharing some alarming data:
“The overall tax rate on the richest 400 households last year was only 23 percent, meaning that their combined tax payments equaled less than one quarter of their total income. This overall rate was 70 percent in 1950 and 47 percent in 1980.”
And there’s an interactive map where you can see the number shifting over time. You’ll feel your heart rate dropping and racing in tune with it:
Federal income taxes have declined slightly for middle-class and poor families, but the huge cut in taxes for the very rich are in the corporate and estate taxes. Ordinary American families are unlikely to benefit from those in the way the extremely wealthy do, and they’re also paying more in payroll taxes, which finance Medicare and Social Security. The rich don’t want to help with protecting the elderly or healthcare. They’re good.
The official stance of most politicians who advocate for tax breaks for the very wealthy is that if they have more money to spend, that means more distribution in the form of jobs and industry. That has proven to be false, but Republicans, especially, keep supporting these tax breaks. Partly because some of them are extremely rich and benefiting from the new codes and partly because their campaigns are financed by the people avoiding taxes.
Lots of people are horrified by this stark data as Leonhardt has laid it out here, and they think it should be at the forefront of the conversation in this upcoming election:
This is the big heist. All of Trump's grift and corruption, all the tweets and chaos and hatefulness, all tolerated if not welcomed because his hand can hold a pen that can sign off on judges and cut taxes for corporations and billionaires. https://t.co/6hoH2WhZVj— Jon Lovett (@jonlovett) October 7, 2019
And if Dems (esp Warren) are smart they will make this a rallying cry about Trump and the GOP tax plan he signed into law and just hammer, hammer, hammer on it. Much better to go w a focused approach on economic messaging than be talking about 20 things. https://t.co/IFaZIpSvNI— Rachel "The Doc" Bitecofer 📈🔭🗿💪 (@RachelBitecofer) October 7, 2019
it's astounding how eternally vigilant americans are about the prospect of government tyranny and at the same time totally docile in the face of the private tyranny that actually exists https://t.co/9tcEW4B7Zb— normal and relaxed (@InternetHippo) October 7, 2019
Nationalize billionaires, repatriate their wealth, so that the rest of us might simply survive the climate emergency they created. https://t.co/AAamzB1YnX— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) October 7, 2019
BRB, I need to get my pitchfork. https://t.co/Hw9lmERYVu— Laila Lalami (@LailaLalami) October 7, 2019
What the white working class demanded https://t.co/5IRzn8kGgP— Brendan Nyhan (@BrendanNyhan) October 7, 2019
Tax The Rich; they have ALL the money https://t.co/pzOdc96kZm— Pat Bagley (@Patbagley) October 7, 2019
Hey everyone, I think I figured out how we’re going to pay for it ⬇️ https://t.co/zhKcUFdqYW— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 7, 2019
America is a 243 year old pyramid scheme https://t.co/IvhHmgp7Yb— Bris Angel (@Cryptoterra) October 7, 2019
These 400 are among the few people who can plausibly believe they have benefited from the Trump presidency. They’d be wrong, but at least you can understand why they’d think so. https://t.co/ktm9ojT5df— James Gleick (@JamesGleick) October 7, 2019
The president seems to be serving only 400 people at the moment, and they have so much money that he’s getting away with it.