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What Do Billionaires Owe The Rest Of Us?

Forbes reports that there are 607 billionaires in the United States.
George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images
Forbes reports that there are 607 billionaires in the United States.

Surely you’ve heard the spiel by now: Democratic presidential candidate and Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren wants a wealth tax.

This is how The New York Times described what she proposed:

Developed by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, two University of California, Berkeley, economists who are leading scholars of inequality, the proposal is to tax a family’s wealth above $50 million at 2 percent a year, with an additional surcharge of 1 percent on wealth over $1 billion.

Mr. Saez and Mr. Zucman estimate that 75,000 households would owe such a tax, or about one out of 1,700 American families.

A family worth $60 million would owe the federal government $200,000 in wealth tax, over and above what they may owe on income from wages, dividends or interest payments.

The wealth tax is a policy proposal that’s popular with a growing wing of the political left which thinks that, as a popular slogan puts it, “every billionaire is a policy failure.”

How responsible should the uber-wealthy be for the rest of us? And if the answer to that question is “more” — how would that redistribution happen?

Produced by Haili Blassingame


Brian Riedl, Senior fellow and tax budget policy expert, the Manhattan Institute; former chief economist to Senator Rob Portman (R-OH); @Brian_Riedl

Andre Perry, Fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program, the Brookings Institution; @andreperryedu

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© 2019 WAMU 88.5 – American University Radio.

Copyright 2019 WAMU 88.5

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