Q1. Most all candidates for the White House agree that the rich should pay their “fair share” at tax time. In your mind, what top marginal tax rate for the federal income tax would rate as “fair”?
⚪ The 91 percent top rate in effect during the Eisenhower years of the 195
⚫ The 70 percent top rate in effect most of the years from the mid-1960s through 1980.
⚪ The 50 percent top rate in effect after the 1981 Reagan tax cut.
⚪ The 28 percent top rate enacted in 1986.
⚪ The 37 percent top rate now in effect.
Over time, the tax burden has been shifted away from corporations and the wealthy, and onto the backs of working people. For example, business funding of the federal government has fallen dramatically, from over 33% of all federal revenue in 1945 down to only about 6% in 2018.
I would reverse this trend, so that corporations and the very wealthy pay their fair share.
Restoring the top marginal rate to 70 percent – in effect most of the years from the mid-1960s through 1980 – would be one way of shifting the burden back to those who can best afford it.
Q2. The majority of Americans support higher taxes for the rich. But policy analysts differ on who exactly rates as “rich.” At what level should the highest federal income tax rate kick in?
⚪ At the threshold for entry into the nation’s top 10 percent. In 2017, the most recent year with IRS data, this threshold stood at $130,060.
⚪ At the threshold for entry into the top 1 percent, income over $463,320.
⚪ At the threshold for entry into the top 0.1 percent, income over $2,099,400.
⚪ At the threshold for entry into the top 0.01 percent, income over $11,218,000.
I support the AOC proposal to restore the 70% top marginal tax rate on those earning $10 million or more.
Q3. Inequality in household wealth — the difference between what families own versus what they owe — runs even greater in the United States than inequality in income. How much wealth in the pockets of its richest 1 percent do you believe a healthy democratic society can accept?
⚪ No more than the 42 percent wealth share our wealthiest 1 percent has held in recent years.
⚫ No more than the 23 percent the U.S. wealthiest 1 percent held in 1978.
⚪ No more than the 11 percent the wealthiest 1 percent holds today in Japan.
The country does better when wealth is more broadly shared. Currently the top 1% of American households have more wealth than the bottom 90% combined. That’s unfair and needs to change.
Q4. Average Americans pay an annual property tax on their homes, the asset that makes up the bulk of the household wealth most Americans hold. But wealthy Americans pay no annual tax on the assets that make up the bulk of their wealth, everything from stocks and bonds to fine art and yachts. Would your administration support an annual wealth tax on the assets of America’s wealthy?
If yes: Above what level of wealth should this wealth tax apply?
I support Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax of 2% on wealth over $50 million and 3% on wealth over $1 billion.
Q5. Back in 1980, top corporate CEOs in the United States took home about 40 times the pay of the nation’s average workers. That gap now averages over 300 times. In 2018, 50 U.S. corporations paid their CEOs over 1,000 times their median worker pay. What do you see as the appropriate ratio for the pay that goes to CEOs and their own company’s workers?
⚪ 6:1, the ratio average Americans cite as most appropriate in polling research.
⚪ 20:1, the widest CEO-worker pay gap that Peter Drucker, the father of modern American management science, considered acceptable.
⚫ 100:1, the standard that Portland, Oregon — the first political jurisdiction in the world to tax excessive executive compensation — has set to define where excess begins.
⚪ 150:1, the average CEO-worker pay gap in the UK, the world’s second most generous nation — after the United States — for top corporate executive compensation.
I want economic justice, and I believe financial incentives have value.
Q6. A century ago, Congress enacted an estate tax, to put a brake on concentrations of inherited wealth and power and raise substantial revenue from our nation’s richest. Since 2000, Congress has subverted that original intent. Lawmakers have lowered the estate tax rate and exempted millions in personal wealth from any tax. Fortunes worth up to $22.8 million can now face no estate tax at all. Which of these steps to limiting intergenerational transfers of wealth do you support?
☑ Exempting fewer millions from estate taxation. The estate tax threshold for couples should drop from the current $22.8 million to: $11 million.
☑ Taxing the nation’s wealthiest estates on a graduated basis, an approach that would subject estates worth $1 billion to a higher tax than an estate worth $50 million. All large bequests currently face the same tax rate.
☑ Eliminating the “step up in basis” loophole, a giveaway to the affluent that lets appreciated stock and other assets transfer to heirs without ever incurring a capital gains tax.
☐ Treating inheritances as income instead of taxing the estates the wealthy leave behind. Standard income tax rates should apply on all inherited income over: ____________.
The estate tax may be the fastest way to reduce wealth inequality. Andrew Carnegie, at the time the richest man in the world, supported 100% estate tax, believing that would encourage each generation to earn its own way in the world and would reduce laziness. While I believe people should be allowed to leave some of what they earned to their loved ones, the levels that can be transferred upon death should be reduced.
I would restore the estate tax to the 2016 level of 5.45 million per person, or about $11 million per couple.
Q7. To effectively reduce inequality, many tax analysts agree, we need multiple new approaches to taxing the wealthy and the sources of their wealth. Which of these proposed approaches would you advance once in the White House?
☑ A tax on Wall Street financial transactions designed to discourage the speculation that undercuts the economic security of average Americans.
☑ An end to preferential tax rates that privilege income from dividends and buying and selling stocks, real estate, and other assets over income from wages and salaries.
☐ A 10 percent surtax on all income over $2 million.
We should not give preferential treatment to stockholder class. The problem in America is not that people can get rich here; the problem is that not enough people can get rich here. I do not think the average person who creates wealth in America wants to feel that their doing so deprives another person of the opportunity. No socioeconomic group has a monopoly on values, and I believe economic justice is an American value that both calls to and serves us all.
Q8. Robust tax rates on the incomes and estates of America’s wealthiest helped forge a much more equal America in the middle of the 20th century. Robust protections for workers and their right to organize into trade unions played an equally pivotal role. Which of these initiatives would your administration work to enact into law?
☑ A requirement that all corporate boards of directors include elected worker representatives.
☑ Labor law reforms that require employers to bargain collectively once a majority of a company’s workers have signed cards indicating they want union representation.
☑ Stiffer penalties on employers who retaliate against workers organizing unions.
☑ Legislation that requires large corporations to transfer up to 10 percent of their shares into “Inclusive Ownership Funds” that give employees “a stake and a say” in corporate dividend distribution and other enterprise decisions.
☑ A national fair workweek act, along the lines of similar legislation passed in several U.S. cities and states, that ensures all workers stable and predictable hours.
Strong unions make America strong by reducing wealth inequality and strengthening economic security for working families. The right to organize is an essential pillar of a fair economy. I support many actions that will strengthen unions. For example, I support the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act) because it will strengthen protections for workers’ right to organize a union and bargain for higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions.
I also support the Public Sector Freedom to Negotiate Act. Unions help workers earn good wages and be treated with dignity. The Act require states to allow public-service workers to join a union and collectively bargain. It also addresses the issue of fair share fees in the Janus decision by authorizing the voluntary deduction of fees to support the union. It gives 17.3 million public employees a national standard of bargaining rights. Public sector workers such as teachers, police officers, and sanitation workers provide vital services to our communities.
We should make it illegal for CEOs to be paid with stock options. It’s wrong.
I recognize that an assault on unions is a main weapon of the corporatist agenda. We must stop and reverse this trend, a goal central to my campaign.
Q9. Over a century ago, the famed newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer urged Americans to beware both “predatory plutocracy” and “predatory poverty.” The United States has made little appreciable progress against poverty over recent decades, and that failure has had a disproportionate impact on women and people of color. Which of these policies to “lift the floor” and expand the U.S. social safety net will your administration promote?
☑ A national $15 minimum wage.
☑ The elimination of the federal subminimum wage for tipped workers, currently $2.13 per hour.
☑ A guaranteed two weeks of annual paid family and medical leave for every worker.
☑ Universal, single-payer health insurance.
☑ Free tuition at public colleges and universities.
☐ A federal jobs guarantee.
I want every American to have enough economic security to get a good education and pursue their dreams. Human creativity and productivity foster both peace and prosperity. We all win when we all win. So in addition to the above, I would eliminate the yoke of student debt that currently hangs around the neck of students. Additionally, I support a Universal Basic Income of $1,000 per month per person from age 18 to 65 (when Social Security begins).
Q10. Today, over a half-century since the classic triumphs of the civil rights movement, the United States still suffers from a staggering racial wealth divide, with median white families holding over 40 times more household wealth than black families — and over 20 times more than Latinx families. Which of these policies to narrow the racial wealth divide would your administration advance?
☑ “Baby bonds” that would be awarded at birth to every American child and held in trust until each child turns 18, with the federal contributions to each bond keyed to parental income.
☑ Federal down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers living in formerly redlined or segregated areas.
☑ A postal banking system that gives the “unbanked” ready access to non-predatory check-cashing and small-loan services.
☑ The convening of a federal commission to explore options for structuring reparations that address the economic legacy left by slavery and generations of racist public policy.
I am the first presidential candidate to advocate for reparations, and the only candidate with a plan for how to implement it. I propose reparations in the amount of $200-$500 Billion. This payment is to be made over a period of twenty years, to a Reparations Council made up of black leaders from across the spectrum of American academic, cultural and political leaders. The Council would be made up of 30-50 members, all descendants of slaves with some scholarly, cultural or political connection to the issue of reparations. It would be for this council, not for the American government, to determine how the money is to be disbursed. The only stipulation on the part of the American government is that the money be applied for purposes of economic and educational renewal. The Reparations Plan will go far toward ending a painful, horrific chapter in American history, and will give future generations of Americans a chance to begin again on the higher ground of true reconciliation.
There are many other ways we can improve conditions for people of color. I plan to fight to reinforce the power of the Voting Rights Act, to increase the power of the Justice Department Civil Rights division, and to increase funding for low-performing schools that service communities of color. I plan to provide universal health care, affordable college, and fair housing practices, in order to address some of the most essential needs of underserved communities. I plan to reduce our prison population, eliminate or at least actively regulate private prisons, and improve the quality of care and education in prisons, in order to reduce recidivism and help inmates be successfully reintegrated into our communities. I plan to appoint federal judges who have demonstrated careers of sensitivity and understanding regarding communities of color, and of course, appoint judges who belong to these communities.
Q11. Women in the United States now earn the majority of college degrees awarded. Yet women continue to be underrepresented in high-level, highly paid positions and overrepresented in lowpaying jobs. Which of these steps to narrow the gender divide will your administration support?
☑ Adopting the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
☑ Requiring companies to disclose gender pay gaps, the current practice in the UK.
☐ Mandating gender quotas on corporate boards, the current practice in Norway.
☑ Fining companies with gender pay divides, a move France is now implementing.
☑ Using gender-responsive budgeting — as many nations worldwide are now doing — to identify how fiscal policy impacts gender gaps and then funding initiatives to bridge these gaps.
Q12. American children born in 1940, research shows, had above a 90 percent chance of earning more than their parents. Children born in the 1980s have had a 50 percent chance. Many of the proposals identified in previous questions would help restore much greater social mobility to American life. Which of these additional steps would your White House support?
☑ Mitigating the consequences of adverse personal shocks, as OECD analysts suggest, by protecting individuals against income loss after unemployment, divorce, and childbirth.
☑ Disaggregating current federal quarterly and annual GDP growth stats, as proposed by Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s “Measuring Real Income Growth Act,” to show how low-, middle-, and high-income Americans are actually experiencing the nation’s economic growth.
☑ Establishing an official “Social Justice Commission,” as recently proposed by the UK Labour Party, to publish periodic “impact statements” that would assess whether particular government policies are growing mobility throughout communities of modest means — or only advancing the life chances of a select few.