“Green New Deal”: Math Check

Raising the marginal rate on $10 million or more in income to 70% might optimistically help “pay for” a boost of about 1.6% to overall federal spending.

The Washington Post’s Jeff Stein estimates that raising the marginal tax rate to between 60 and 70 percent on incomes above $10 million might raise as much as $720 billion dollars over a decade, or $72 billion per year. There are some 16,000 households that meet that criteria — fewer than 0.05% of all US households. Collectively, their taxable income was about $405 billion in 2016, on which they paid $121 billion in taxes.

Current overall federal spending: $4.47 trillion per year. So raising this marginal rate might help “pay for” a boost of about 1.6% to overall federal spending.

Stein adds, “The real number [of projected new revenue from such a marginal tax hike] is probably smaller than that, because wealthy Americans would probably find ways around paying this much-higher tax.”

One chart that should be of interest — inflation-adjusted per-capita federal spending. It looks like this:

I’m all for discussing policy ideas and investments, but it’d be great to start with numbers that foot.

A migration from a 17% renewables economy to a 100% renewals economy, with Medicare for All and “free” education requires much higher taxes on all brackets. (One study by George Mason University has estimated the cost for Medicare for All to be at $32.6 trillion, about 452x the incremental revenue the marginal tax optimistically would raise.) And, for what it’s worth, science that at least for now, we don’t currently have.


Author: Steve Murch

Steve’s a Seattle-based entrepreneur and software leader, husband and father of three. He’s American-Canadian, and east-coast born and raised. Steve has made the Pacific Northwest his home since 1991, when he moved here to work for Microsoft. He’s started and sold multiple Internet companies. Politically independent, he writes on occasion about city politics and national issues, and created voter-candidate matchmaker Alignvote in the 2019 election cycle. He holds a BS in Applied Math (Computer Science) and Business from Carnegie Mellon University, a Masters in Computer Science from Stanford University in Symbolic and Heuristic Computation, and an MBA from the Harvard Business School, where he graduated a George F. Baker Scholar. Steve volunteers when time allows with Habitat for Humanity, University District Food Bank, Technology Access Foundation (TAF) and other organizations in Seattle. read more

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