Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has jolted the body politic with a bold proposal to tax the concentrated wealth of the richest 75,000 householdsin the United States. It’s about time someone took up this mantle.
Warren’s proposal would levy an annual 2 percent tax on wealth over $50 million, with the rate rising to 3 percent on wealth over $1 billion. Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest man in the country, would pay $4.1 billion under the new tax.
The United States has a proud tradition of breaking up concentrated wealth. The first federal progressive income and estate taxes date from the first Gilded Age, over a century ago. That’s when President Theodore Roosevelt observed, “Of all forms of tyranny, the least attractive and the most vulgar is the tyranny of mere wealth, the tyranny of a plutocracy.”
The wealth tax that Warren proposes would raise substantial revenue — by one estimate almost $3 trillion in the next decade. This would be a substantial boost for spending on green infrastructure, affordable higher education, and other investments that could expand opportunity.