The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board has responded to a Monday open letter by “Nineteen uberwealthy Americans” spearheaded by George Soros, who called on 2020 presidential candidates to support a “moderate” wealth tax in order to make Billionaires ‘pay their fair share.’
As the Journal notes, however, this is nothing more than high-level virtue signaling.
“What’s stopping them?” asks the Editorial Board. “If billionaires see themselves as a threat to “the stability and integrity of our republic,” they could cease being billionaires any day.”
And instead of “routing their largesse through the government,” the Journal EB suggests “They could start contributing more today…”
Some key excerpts:
Instead of seriously grappling with these objections, the letter tries to sweep readers along in sheer patriotic fervor. The rich “should be proud to pay a bit more,” the authors say. “Taking on this tax is the least we can do to strengthen the country we love.” Well, what’s stopping them? If billionaires see themselves as a threat to “the stability and integrity of our republic,” they could cease being billionaires any day. If retiring student debt is vital, they could put out a call to graduates and start paying off loans. If the climate is a priority, they could fund a green Manhattan Project.
Maybe they’re intent on routing their largesse through the government, since it already does such a bang-up job of setting priorities and spending prudently. Again, though, why wait for legislation? They could start contributing more today. First, they could pledge to forgo all tax write-offs, including on charitable donations and foundations. As a side benefit, this would save them money on accountants.
Second, they could put their money where their convictions are by writing a big annual check—3% of assets each year, going by Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax—to local, state or federal government. The Treasury accepts “Gifts to the United States” at P.O. Box 1328, Parkersburg, W.Va. Donations usually go to the general budget, but state policies differ, and maybe an exception could be made to let benevolent billionaires specify an earmark in the “memo” line.
If a wealth tax is patriotic, a self-imposed one would be doubly so. “It is not in our interest to advocate for this tax,” the letter says, “if our interests are quite narrowly understood. But the wealth tax is in our interest as Americans.” In that case, billionaire, tax thyself.
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Author: Tyler Durden