CNBC Boosts Dems’ Tax Hike Ideas; ‘History May Be on Their Side’

Three distinct tax-the-rich proposals are being promoted by Democrats in Congress. Rather than provide a balanced look at those proposals and their potential impact, CNBC.com boosted the calls to raise taxes on the wealthy.

A 9-minute, 37-second video published Feb. 8, cited the different “tax the rich” proposals of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Ocasio-Cortez has said a “system that allows billionaires” to exist is immoral and proposed a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent or higher. Meanwhile, Warren proposed an annual wealth tax on “ultra-millionaires” on all assets of 2 percent or more per year.

CNBC’s video promoted the idea of forcing the wealthy to pay more taxes by citing many progressive economic experts and barely any critics.

The headline for the video and story said “here’s why history may be on their side.” It’s obvious the CNBC team responsible for the video was on the side promoting higher taxes on the wealthy. CNBC staff reporter Jacob Pramuk and economics reporter John Schoen wrote the video script.

Early on, the video’s unidentified narrator said “calling to close the chasm between the ultra-wealthy and the working class is a potent political message that worked for Bernie Sanders and even at times for Trump.”

The narrator also insisted raising taxes on the top wouldn’t harm the economy: “There’s no clear evidence that the tax burden on the wealthiest dinged the economy then, what is clear is that the richest Americans have taken a larger section of the pie.”

That statement made it sound like the pie was one size and now the rich are taking more of that unchanged pie, when it reality the size of the pie (U.S. GDP) expanded dramatically over the years.

Critics were sparse in the video, but proponents of higher taxes or people upset by income inequality were abundant. The list included Salvatore Morelli of the Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality at CUNY, Matthew Dimick of University of Buffalo, Fed Governor Lael Brainard and quotes from multiple progressive economists. It also cited history, rich billionaires willing to pay and polling showing the popularity of the idea all to support the liberal calls for higher taxes.

The video mentioned the “conservative-leaning Tax Foundation” twice. Once to note that the top 1 percent weren’t paying 70 percent in taxes even when marginal income tax rates were that high and once to point out that the revenue estimates for a tax hike could be overestimated.

Roughly three-quarters of the way through the video it quoted banker and former Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn who said, “It would be harmful to the economy and I’m not, I’m not saying collecting more tax revenue is harmful to the economy. I’m saying that we have to compete in a global theater.”

But the narrator immediately argued again for raising taxes claiming, “there’s also evidence that inequality may be hurting broader economic growth. The reason is simple: the rich just don’t spend as much of their income as the poor.”

Dimick, one of the high-tax proponents CNBC turned to, claimed, “So it really seems like you can have your cake and eat it too with a high top marginal income. It reduces income inequality and also doesn’t seem to hurt economic growth and maybe it even spurs it.”

Before wrapping up the video, the narrator piled on again. He said prominent business titans Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon were “willing to pay more” and a Fox News poll showing high favorability for raising taxes on the wealthiest.

The video ended with a repeat of the old clip of Trump saying he favors raising taxes on the wealthy, including himself — and a dig at the president.

“Well, overall. He didn’t.”


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Economy Taxes CNBC Elizabeth Warren Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Bernie Sanders
Julia A. Seymour's picture


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