Question for Bernie / Warren Supporters

Folks, a question for everybody who supports Bernie or Warren (which is everybody on this blog, it seems, except for Dreidel).

What kind of an increase in your income tax rates would you accept in exchange for seeing Bernie / Warren as president?

As I said in the comments, I can live with my tax rate going from 23% to 30%. Anything over that makes me lose all interest.

(“More like Sweden” means much higher taxes, everybody knows this, I hope.)

I’d like specific numbers and not lectures on how Sweden is oh so wonderful.

45 thoughts on “Question for Bernie / Warren Supporters”

      1. Although I’m not a great fan of Biden, he’s the best debater and Trump doesn’t want him as an opponent.

        Warren is an intersectional PC shill and Bernie is too close of stupid AOC maniacs, he’s too much into federal centralization (like Canadian liberals and NDP) and he’s not as interesting as he was in 2016, when at least he was about real social issues.


  1. I’m open to either of them, but I think Biden is my #1 choice atm. I’m not exactly sure what my current tax rate is, as my income varies year to year. Nobody making under $30,000 a year should have to pay more in income taxes though, so I’m not willing to give up much. I’d be willing to give up my EITC for a public option, but I’m not willing to see the same thing happen to others in my income bracket. I’m childless and have few expenses, this is not the case for most people.


    1. I definitely don’t support either Sanders or Warren. I’m not sure there’s anyone I do like. I saw a bumper sticker recently that said “2020: Any Functional Adult,” which made me snort. I wish there were one.


  2. The question of what tax rate with which I would be content is too vague. It depends very much on what we got for it. It is also tricky when we consider state, county, and city taxes. These make the overall tax rate higher. For example, my property taxes total between $5K and $6K per year.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t support anyone but will vote for someone. Re tax rates, you have to consider federal, state, property, sales, estate, the whole thing, and what you are paying for insurance, and what you can deduct, as well as what you have to pay for college (and more) to figure out what is reasonable, feasible, bearable, and so on. What can I pay? Not more than I am now. I’m in the 22% bracket and couldn’t easily afford more UNLESS there were other changes, like reductions in other taxes, insurance premiums, or a different retirement system such that I didn’t need to save as much … or more benefits and perks at work, so I didn’t have to spend so much out of pocket for work.


    1. If other countries with the kind of system Bernie favors are an indication, all the other taxes skyrocket, too. Quebec pays 15% sales tax on absolutely everything together with a huge provincial and a huge federal tax. But on the upside, those who don’t want to work don’t have to. And you can see a free doctor after waiting for five months.


      1. The mentions of Scandinavia aren’t literal recommendations, though. The point is to remind us that we could go back to some taxation levels we’ve actually had here, especially of the very very rich and of corporations, and think about what we’re taxing for. It’s a very general point, not a concrete reality — an effort to change the conversation, halt the idea that if it’s a tax, it’s bad because it’s a tax. What is actually come up with remains to be seen.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh, now we are backpedaling on Scandinavia, too? :-))) I thought this was supposed to be out shining example. But that’s only until we actually find out what life is like over there.


          1. “We?” I never took that literally. It means, not-USSR, but with more social benefits than now. It is instead of saying FDR or something like that.


              1. There’s tons of discussion on it. We put all kinds of money into the prison industrial complex, for instance, that can be rerouted. Etc.


              2. I don’t understand. Is somebody seriously suggesting this will happen without a major tax hike on people like me? Although that never happened anywhere in the world?


          2. Also: when you elect a US president, you are not electing a magician who will be able to unilaterally enact something as complex as turning the US into Scandinavia, if that were even possible to do (in 4 years)! “Scandinavia” has always just been shorthand for saying yes we can expand the social safety network in some ways, improve maternal and child health, have some more guarantees, and yes it’s OK to use some tax money for that.


  4. I support Jay Inslee because he is the only candidate who appears to be taking climate change seriously, which is the only relevant issue now or in the future for quite a long while.

    I would support a 50% federal marginal tax rate of earners above $85,000 a year or so (which would very much affect me) if we got a Sweden-like health care system and similar social safety net in return. I’d lead here to much more entrepreneurialism and would just be fairer in general.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. :I would support a 50% federal marginal tax rate of earners above $85,000 a year.”


    A 50% marginal rate above a paltry $85,000 income would mean that a person who made as little as $500,000 would be paying FIFTY PERCENT of EIGHTY-THREE PERCENT of their entire year’s earnings! So someone earning a mere half a million dollars would be giving the government $207,500 — as a practical matter, that’s over 50% of everything they made, hardly a “marginal” rate.

    A billionaire who made a relatively modest ten billion dollars would be losing 49% of ALL his annual income. You seriously think successful entrepreneurs — the people who fund thousands of jobs in various fields (architecture, construction, accounting, company employees, etc.) all over America for people making, say, $85,000 a year (about $40 an hour) are going to tolerate that highway robbery Robin Hood idiocy?

    Never mind Bill Gates and Bezos. Your plan would wipe out every single millionaire in the U.S., and then everybody in this country would be equally poor.

    Sorry for the rant — but come on! 😦


    1. “So someone earning a mere half a million dollars would be giving the government $207,500 — as a practical matter, that’s over 50% of everything they made, hardly a ‘marginal’ rate.”

      Yes, that is how marginal rates work and should work. Because even with $207,500 taken to make society overall better, they still have $207,500.

      “Your plan would wipe out every single millionaire in the U.S.”

      Not true at all, as it did not occur in the 1950s or 1960s when marginal tax rates were much higher. Remember, 50% of $2 million still leaves $1 million (basic math, get you some).

      Also, beware selection bias when you see people write about this. Most get it wrong.

      Progress does not grind to a halt sans multi-millionaires and billionaires. Quite the opposite. Look to the 1950s and 1960s for examples. Progress, however, does grind to a halt with vast inequality and hoarding of resources by those ill-disposed to use them. See now for examples of that latter effect.


      1. @Mike:
        “It (loss of wealth for the rich) did not occur in the 1950s or 1960s when marginal tax rates were much higher… (basic math, get you some).”

        The actual tax situation back then was a bit different than you suggest: The tax code of the 1950s had a top marginal tax rate of 91 percent, but resulted in an effective tax rate of only 42 percent on the WEALTHIEST ONE PERCENT of all taxpayers. The 42.0 percent tax rate on the top one percent took into account all taxes levied by federal, state, and local governments, including: income, payroll, corporate, excise, property, and estate taxes. When you look at income taxes specifically, the TOP ONE PERCENT of taxpayers paid an average effective rate of only 16.9 percent in income taxes during the 1950s.

        The 91 percent bracket of 1950 only applied to households with income over $200,000 (or about $2 million in today’s dollars — a far cry from your proposed $85,000). Only a very small number of taxpayers would have had enough income to fall into the top bracket back then– FEWER THAN 10,000 HOUSEHOLDS, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. Many households in the top 1 percent in the 1950s wouldn’t have fallen into the 91 percent bracket to begin with.


  6. Not a fair question. You have to look at disposable income after taxes, and what you get for your tax dollar. A small business owner in their 40’s can expect to pay $2,400 per month for family healthcare with a $3,500 deductible with a major insurer like (Aetna or Cigna). Those with health issues pay more. That’s not true in Europe in general nor Sweden in particular. Personally, I don’t consider spending on healthcare to be discretionary. Several studies have shown that most Americans have less discretionary money after taxes than do Europeans, despite the lower tax rate. Now I’m not a fan of Bernie and feel that Biden has the best chance of beating Trump — if he runs, which seems questionable.

    Right now, the GOP is playing 3 card monte with the budget. Cut taxes for the rich, reduce benefits for the poor, pile more obligations on the states — which then have to raise state taxes — and recoup some of the tax cuts by imposing fees for services. The net is that Trump looks like he’s done something, but at the end of the day, you have less in your pocket.

    By the way, friends have been suggesting having dental work done in Mexico. The cost is less than the insurance copay for most procedures.


    1. If you even have dental insurance. I can’t seem to find a plan that makes it worthwhile. On vision, I have it but what I recoup is basically what I pay in, so I might as well not have it.


      1. “I can’t seem to find a plan that makes it (dental insurance) worthwhile.”

        I agree completely. When I retired from the U.S. military 21 years ago, I couldn’t find a single dental insurance plan where the premiums didn’t cost more than the very restricted benefits that I could receive.

        When you retire in America, you’d better have good teeth and good eyes and hearing, because you’re on your own.


      2. It’s difficult to recommend either dental or vision to clients. Since these are policies that often get used promptly, there’s limited ability for the insurer to make money investing premiums, so the prices are relatively high relative to what dentists or eye docs charge. I usually don’t recommend them.


    2. “By the way, friends have been suggesting having dental work done in Mexico.”

      Before you get any medical/dental procedures done in Mexico, you might want to google how well that worked out for Steve McQueen (the famous American actor who died 39 years ago, not the currently living British film director with the same name).


        1. “making judgements on obsolete information isn’t good.”

          Obsolete? There are multiple current articles on the Internet of people (not celebrities that you’ve ever heard of) who went to Mexico to save money, or to get procedures that American professionals ethnically refused to perform, and who have suffered disasterous permanent consequences as a result.


    3. I observe the way that disposable income is sucked up by taxes, taxes, taxes in Quebec all the time. My Canadian relatives, by the way, go to Ukraine to do dental work because it’s as expensive in the 40% income tax + 15% sales tax Quebec.

      All I want is a number. Only one person in the thread has been able to give an answer so fat. This tells me that nobody really wants what Bernie is offering. They want a fantasy that doesn’t exist anywhere in the world.


        1. Somebody needs to pay for all this free stuff Bernie is promising. Everywhere on the planet where such a system has been tried, people who pay for it are me and you. There are zero other examples. Zero. That’s just how it is. So it’s only reasonable to ask in advance how much we will have to pony up. Or we might discover the answer once it’s too late to do anything about it.


          1. Completely agree that someone needs to run numbers; otherwise it’s all pie in the sky. There’s usually some vague notion that “rich corporations and fat cats” will pay, but corporations are made up of employees, most of whom are not earning obscene salaries. They hope to get annual raises or at least year-end bonuses if things are going well, not lose those because the corporation is being taxed.

            And that whole “free college education” idea really frosts me. While I agree that college costs have gone too high and states should subsidize more of the costs at state schools, as they did when I was in college, people value what they pay for. Free college would hasten the decline of higher education, and increase the gap between people who can pay private school tuition and those who can’t.


  7. It would depend on what I got for the money. If there were a much better standard for public schools, free university , single payer healthcare, and public pensions I can imagine paying tax in the 50% percent range. It would also depend on what was going to happen to property taxes. I would actually much rather pay higher income taxes to support a public school system than pay high property taxes.


    1. I don’t we need to worry much about property taxes with this system of taxation because where would one get the money for a down payment with this tax rate?


  8. I’m a regular reader, although I’ve only commented once before that I can remember. Although I’m not Swedish, I live in Sweden, so here comes my take on this. I’ve calculated with US$ 1 = SEK 10; it’s close enough to the current exchange rate (Sweden has had no real inflation for many years).

    Taxes in Sweden are high, but only those with pretty high incomes pay tax in the highest brackets, of course. I have a permanent senior lecturer position at a university and earn US$ 4,300/month before paying my taxes of just over 30%. It is very hard to compare salaries and cost of living across countries and regions, but this should give some context to the figures below.

    For these taxes, I can receive cheap healthcare of a fairly good standard (waiting times can be long for non-acute care, though, but I can also choose subsidized private care). As an example, a few years ago, I had a hospital visit with a small operation that cost me only US$ 25. But a heart transplant or emergency C-section would have cost the same amount per day of care in my region. There is a payment cap of around US$ 1,000, depending on your region, meaning that as soon as you have paid this amount for care + medicine, you receive free care and medicine for the rest of the calendar year. So nobody needs to have private medical insurance here, although it is available for the superrich.

    I am entitled to a minimum of 5 weeks’ paid annual leave of which 2 must be consecutive. Parents have the right to take parental leave until their children are 18 months. There are some rules about how this is to be divided between the parents; I think both can be on parental leave simultaneously for 2 weeks or so right after the birth, but after that the time at home is divided between the parents, and each should take a minimum of 3 months. During this time they receive parental benefits (cash payments) from the state, up to the equivalent of around 80% of my monthly salary. Benefits are of course also paid to the unemployed and sick (generally these systems seem more problematic than the parental benefits system). The sick and elderly are entitled to care in the home or accommodation in care facilities. The cost of this varies and depends on your income, but the cap is at around US$ 200 a month for 24-hour care in a care home. Most people who need this type of care pay a lot less or receive it for free (if you’re chronically ill and not working, you usually can’t build up that much savings).

    All compulsory and upper-secondary schooling is free, in both public and private schools. While government subsidies to private schools certainly is a bone of contention, this is one of the places my tax money goes. Likewise, all university education is for free at public and private universities for all EU residents (there are very few private universities here). Daycare is not compulsory and therefore not free, although it is heavily subsidized (income based). From the month of their birth until they turn 16, a child benefit is paid to the parents (US$ 112.50/month per child in 2019, with a family addition depending on the number of children). After that teenagers receive a study benefit of the same amount while attending upper-secondary school or vocational training. As someone who is childless, I sometimes feel that parents get too big a slice of the social welfare cake and the elderly too little.

    Sweden is far from perfect, but I gladly pay my taxes and will definitely pay even higher taxes for this kind of security. Of course some people suffer here too, but not nearly to the same extend as in many other places. Nobody needs to have several jobs just to keep their family going, or have to take out a mortgage to send their children to college.

    However, this system is largely the result of historical circumstances that in the long run favored Sweden: Sweden lost a large part of its poor and uneducated population to North America (about a third of the country emigrated in the 18th and early 19th centuries), and Sweden kept out of WWII (basically by supporting Germany so covertly that they could still claim neutrality). Most importantly, though, the wealth of the welfare state was build through the (colonial) exploitation of Sapmi (the arctic homelands of the Sami peoples).

    The Swedish welfare state is currently a hybrid of state control and privatization and it is based on a kind of stability that no longer exists. It probably cannot absorb large numbers of migrants and survive an economy in which there are very few unskilled jobs available, and this is why it probably cannot last much longer in its current form.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had 3 major surgeries in the past 5 years in the US and didn’t even pay $25 for any of them.

      After our daughter was born, my husband and I were at home together with her on a paid parental leave for 3 weeks. After that, he was at home for 3 more weeks of unpaid leave and I was at home until she was a little over 6 months old on paid leave.

      There are no child benefits but we now have a really generous child tax credit.

      Other than free university, which I do not support, I’m not seeing much gain for myself in this system.

      And yes, I agree completely that no welfare system can coexist with open borders.


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