On this Wednesday evening's The Situation Room, CNN's newest anchor and Wall Street apologist Erin Burnett did her best to do a bit of concern trolling for the ultra-rich in America to try to convince the viewers that it really doesn't matter all that much if we raise taxes on the wealthiest among us, because it won't make a dent towards doing anything to solve our debt and deficit problems.
There are so many things wrong with this segment, it's hard to know where to begin, but I guess I'll start with just who Erin Burnett thinks should be responsible for solving the problems with our deficit. At a time when we've got record income disparity which has been getting worse for the last four decades at least, she doesn't think that we should fix that on the backs of the rich. The people she wants to solve it are our seniors and the middle class and the poor.
And no one is claiming that raising taxes on the rich alone would solve the problem, but it would be a huge step in the right direction to getting America back to a place where we still had a middle class and weren't just becoming a country where you've got nothing left but the ultra-rich and the very poor.
Blitzer asked Burnett about President Obama's statement in the State of the Union Address that millionaires should be paying a minimum 30 percent tax rate and that we should be following "the Buffett rule" where no millionaire or billionaire is taxed at a lower rate than their secretary. Burnett responded by saying that she asked some "experts" for their opinion on this and they claimed it would only "raise about $41 billion a year."
I sent this on to our group here at C&L and Jon Perr who has written so much on this topic sent me these items in rebuttal to Burnett's hackery.
For some background, consider this piece from 2010 which described that ending the Bush tax cuts for the those earning over $250,000 a year would save $700 billion over ten years. (The tab for the other 98% is $3.1 trillion.)
It’s worth noting that Bush doubled the national debt during his tenure and the tax cuts were the single biggest factor.
To be sure, the Bush tax cuts on income and capital gains helped produce a windfall for the top 1 percent. When the total federal tax burden is now at its lowest level in 60 years and income inequality is at its highest in 80, historically low tax rates for the wealthy are inexcusable. The cut in capital gains tax rate from 20 to 15 percent by Bush also helped fuel growing income inequality. The piece linked below contains charts and a discussion of how low capital gains taxes fuel income inequality.
Ultimately, the U.S. doesn’t have a spending problem as much as a health care problem. But draining the Treasury of revenue doesn’t help matters. One other important point. It’s not just the income tax rates that are draining the Treasury.
But Erin Burnett doesn't want Americans to believe raising taxes on the rich will do an ounce of good. I guess being married to a Citigroup executive while "reporting" for CNN might slant you towards that perspective.
Here's the transcript from CNN.
BLITZER: President Obama said in the "State of the Union" address last night, he wants a millionaires to pay a minimum 30 percent tax.
Let's get some more from CNN Erin Burnett, the host of "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT," week nights here on CNN, 7 p.m. Eastern. What did you make of that proposal? You heard Gene Sperling say you make $10 million no matter how you make it capital gains, dividends, interest, you're going to pay $3 million in tax. He calls it the Warren Buffet rule.
ERIN BURNETT, HOST, CNN'S "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT": That's right. Obviously, the Warren Buffett rule is a good political term for the White House, because a lot of people like it. As you know, the polls show American public supports taxing millionaires. We did the math though to try to find out exactly how much money this would really raise, asked some tax experts. Assuming you keep the current code for taxes, which I think most would agree it needs more than just changing rates. We need to get rid of loopholes and things like that. The effective tax rates on those highest earners, over a million dollars, would be 44 percent.
That would be back to the mid-Reagan years in terms of that effective tax rate. Wolf, the real question is, would doing that, as Gene Sperling said, as the president is talking about, and clearly going to make a lynchpin of his campaign.
Would it raise enough money to make a difference? That's where you bet some interesting numbers. It would raise about $41 billion a year, experts tell us. Compare that, Wolf, to just how much the government spend last year in fiscal 2011.
That would be 1.1 percent of what the government spent. It's just an interesting way to look at it. You may or may not want to do it, about you when you look at the scale of the problem, the scale of the debt in this country. We need to do a lot more than something like that.
BLITZER: Yes, relatively small amount of money. Erin will have a lot more at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Thank you.