Critics of New York Democratic-Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC, contend that she’s a fraud, a phony who doesn’t really come from as humble an upbringing as she maintains – and that it is in contrast to her “tax the rich” mantra. There are claims that she’s a privileged millennial, even a fraud and hypocrite.
The truth is that she may very likely believe what she says, but is simply not an economist – and perhaps her basic math skills aren’t all that good either.
Like many of her lefty Democratic Socialist comrades, she’s not content to just target the vile “1 percent” any longer. In the past, she had led the call for a tax on wealth to decrease inequality, and last month she pushed to tax the top five percent earners in New York State. She made the call as part of an effort to support immigrants and asylum seekers, arguing that “the richest New Yorkers have grown their wealth since the pandemic, and it’s past time they pay their fair share.”
Those high-earners could see their New York State taxes increase to as high as 7.5 percent – and that is in addition to any federal taxes.
It wouldn’t be just those living on 57th Street’s “Billionaire Row” that could feel the squeeze warned critics of the plan. It could impact couples many making just $250,000 – considered truly “middle class” in Manhattan.
Empire Center for Public Policy President Tim Hoefer claimed Ocasio-Cortez was trying to “redefine” who the “rich” were in the state, and in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, he argued that the top 5 percent of earners translated to married couples who make around $250,000 or more, or $127,000 each.
Tax The Rich Or Drive Them Away?
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez may very much believe that the rich deserve to pay more. She’s even made clear that she’s willing to pay more in taxes as well – unlike a former president who bragged about not paying taxes despite his wealth – so she is far from being a hypocrite.
She just doesn’t seem to believe that such a tax rate is only likely to drive away those high earners. Already many wealthy New Yorkers (and those in California where taxes have also been raised) have fled to Florida and other states.
That exodus is only likely to continue.
But perhaps the biggest problem with these calls to raise taxes isn’t just that it will put a burden on those trying to carve out a better life in a state where taxes are already among the highest in the nation, but many economists agree it likely won’t actually help the lower class much at all.
“Wealth taxes don’t increase productivity; if anything, they discourage capital formation. They do force rich people to reduce their consumption,” was an opinion not from a Conservative think tank but from Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle who warned against increased tax hikes on the wealthy in June 2021.
Ocasio-Cortez may seem to think that the rich can just pay more – “their fare share” – but they already pay a lot. There is only so much that the wealthy can pay before they stop being so wealthy. As a result, it could require that eventually, it isn’t the top one percent, or even the top five percent that must pay more. Soon it would be the top half to support the rest. But again perhaps that is the goal.
“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” was the slogan of Karl Marx. And perhaps Ocasio-Cortez truly believes it would work. It just fails to take into account greed, laziness, corruption, and so many other human traits.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.