Don't Tell Occupy: CNN's Zakaria Argues for Less Progressive Tax System

Don't Tell Occupy: CNN's Zakaria Argues for Less Progressive Tax System

OWS will be furious with CNN over this: Global Public Square (GPS) host Fareed Zakaria did a segment on tax reform Sunday in which he argued for a simpler, less progressive tax system.

Yes, you heard that right: a CNN host reported that the US tax system is already more progressive than most European nations, i.e. weighing more heavily upon the richest ten percent.

A better system, Zakaria argued, would be one in which less of the financial burden was placed on the top 10% and more on the other 90%. Breitbart TV has video of the segment here. And here’s a bit of what Zakaria argued via NewsBusters:

Ironically, the heavy reliance on income taxes makes the American system more progressive than those in Europe. The federal government gets about 43% of its total tax revenue from taxes on individual incomes and profits, compared with only 29% in Germany and 22% in France. The balance for France and Germany comes from the VAT, which is highly regressive. One recent OECD study showed that the top ten percent in America pay a larger share of total taxes, 45.1%, than do the top ten percent in any of the 24 countries examined. In Germany they pay 31% of the taxes, in France 28%.

The OECD report Zakaria is referencing is available here. You’ll need to scroll to pages 106-107 for the data in question. If you want more on this topic, Veronique de Rugy wrote about the report here and in more detail here.

This is the kind of argument conservatives have been making about high tax rates on the rich for several years. The usual response from the left is some variation on the pithy phrase “tax cuts for the rich” or, more recently, “we are the 99%!” But as the OECD analysis makes clear, our system already asks more from top earners than anyplace in Europe. Maybe, as Zakaria suggests, it’s time to move past progressive sound bites and address the tax system like adults.


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