Carney: Why the Ultra-Wealthy Aren’t Worried About Biden’s Billionaire Tax Proposal

President Joe Biden speaks during an event to thank outgoing White House chief of staff Ron Klain, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. Biden is playing host to former President Bill Clinton to mark the 30th anniversary of the Family and Medical …
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The billionaires do not seem very worried about President Joe Biden’s revival of the idea of imposing a tax on the wealthiest Americans.

Previewing the economic portions of Biden’s speech, the White House said the president will renew his call for a minimum tax on wealthy Americans.

“In a typical year, billionaires pay an average tax rate of just 8 percent. In the State of the Union, he’ll call on Congress to pass his billionaire minimum tax. This minimum tax would make sure that the wealthiest Americans no longer pay a tax rate lower than teachers and firefighters,” the White House said.

Biden’s billionaire’s tax includes unrealized capital gains with the income it subjects to a minimum rate of 20 percent. It would be levied on any household worth more than $100 million.

Biden was not able to get such a tax enacted while the Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress. The Democratic Party loves to talk up plans to tax the rich but consistently fails to deliver. The carried interest provision that benefits private equity fund managers and venture capitalists persisted through Obama’s administration and Biden’s first two years. The billionaire tax went nowhere. Proposals for wealth taxes just die safely tucked away in small, musty drawers in the offices of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

The odds of tax on the wealthy passing in a divided Congress are approximately zero because Republicans tend to get the vapors when asked to support a tax hike.

I doubt many on the American right will expend too much energy fighting against the tax. That’s not for a lack of arguments against the tax. It’s probably not constitutional because unrealized gains are not income, which is what the 16th Amendment to the constitution permits to be taxed. It will not raise much money because the wealthy are that way in part because they are terrific at avoiding taxes. It would require a vast new tax bureaucracy to oversee and enforce.

But the right will not expend much energy making these points—and it should not—because the billionaires are not on our side. With very few exceptions, they support Democrat politicians and are super jazzed to get behind the latest fad on the left. They have yard little signs inside their billionaire’s brains that read: “In this house we believe climate change is real, black lives matter, your pronouns are what you say they are, science says wear a mask, all genders are equal, critical race theory isn’t taught in schools, and speech is violence.” Woke nonsense that never hurts their bottom lines.

The few who call themselves Republicans—with the exception of Wilbur Ross, Donald Trump, and a handful of others who I will not name to protect them from the wrath of their fellow plutocrats—tend to be internationalist financiers with ties to China.

If the billionaire tax were a form of class warfare, it wouldn’t be our war. But it is not genuine class warfare. It’s a phony war that is not being waged at all. It is being staged to fool Americans into thinking that the Biden administration is somehow standing up to “the wealthy”—when in reality, they’re standing side-by-side.

The best option for the right is simply to watch the act for laughs.




Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.