On Tuesday, just a day before the double debate nights for 20 Democratic presidential candidates, news media began carrying a flurry of stories that reported some of the nation’s richest people are demanding a wealth tax to provide more money for the millions who live on low levels of income.
Here are some of the names:
Eli Broad, George Soros, Abigail Disney, Chris Hughes, Liesel Pritzker Simmons, Ian Simmons and Molly Munger.
These announcements form a great American story and it’s probable that other names will join the growing parade in marching toward an enormously improved nation.
In 2011, Warren Buffett made the argument for taxing the wealthiest more by saying, “my friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress.” He pointed out at the time, that his secretary paid a higher effective tax rate than he did.
Broad, a philanthropist and former entrepreneur wrote an essay that concluded:
“Let’s admit out loud what we all know to be true: A wealth tax can start to address the economic inequality eroding the soul of our country’s strength. I can afford to pay more, and I know others can too. What we can’t afford are more shortsighted policies that skirt big ideas, avoid tough issues and do little to alleviate the poverty faced by millions of Americans. There’s no time to waste.”
A letter signed by 19 individuals, posted online Monday, said, “We are writing to call on all candidates for president, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, to support a moderate wealth tax on the fortunes of the richest one-tenth of the richest 1% of Americans — on us. The next dollar of new tax revenue should come from the most financially fortunate, not from middle-income and lower-income Americans.”
Some of those signing the letter have already expressed concerns about rising inequality. Hughes has evangelized for higher taxes on the rich in his book “Fair Shot.” Disney, whose grandfather and great-uncle founded Walt Disney Co., recently called Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger’s $65.6 million compensation package “insane.”
One of the youngest signers of the letter, 35-year-old Liesel Pritzker Simmons, whose extended family is worth more than $33 billion, framed the situation simply: “We are part of the problem, so tax us.”
Such inequality has only deepened. Last week, Bernard Arnault joined Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates as the third person with a fortune of at least $100 billion on the Bloomberg Billionaires index, whose 500 members have a total net worth of $5.5 trillion, up from $4.9 trillion two years ago.
Arnault is a French business magnate investor and art collector.
If the richest Americans succeed in promoting a wealth tax, it will be an enormous patriotic achievement, reflecting many of the benefits that have blessed this country since its founding in the 1700s.