Bill Gates debates Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 'tax the rich' policy

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It doesn’t seem that he is debating AOC’s marginal tax rate on income over a certain dollar amount…He seems to be saying that’s fine, but focus on assets not income. Which…by all accounts is correct.

Ultra wealthy people hide their money by investing it in “things”: property, cars, art, jewelry, etc. And in many cases the “taxation” on those items is no different than what you or I pay when we buy a cup of coffee.


Is that like the VAT ?

Wealth vs Income


baby steps, biiiiiiiiiitch


Less of a debate and more of a … refinement? This makes sense, since the ultra wealthy have been evading their taxes for years – even the ones in charge of the laws.


I think the biggest point he is making is that it isn’t ‘regular’ income taxes that matter to the very rich, but capital gains and inheritance taxes and theoretical progressive property taxes.

I do think this is assuming unrealistic stupidity in the proposal under discussion. Those who have actually thought about 70% tax rates would virtually all intend to apply them to capital income as well as wage income. (a minority of rich ‘soak the 90-99.5%ers’ aside)


Bill makes some very good points here, and does throw a glaring light on problems with AOC’s proposal.


I think this was his point.


As a Linux user Gates already has one strike from me.


We are exploding the debt to give tax breaks to the already wealth…

A couple simple ‘on the back of a postcard’ ideas:

  • income is income (work and investment income taxed at same rate)
  • lift the cap on SS
  • 2% wealth tax (penalties for avoidance or shipping it offshore includes up to the death penalty and forfeiture of all wealth/assets, mb even some clawback from the vile offspring)
  • cut military by 2% per year for a few years
  • green new deal (infrastructure)
  • medicare for all (want to practice medicine in the USA? 35% of your patients must be USmedicare4All or gtfo and see item 3 above)

We wasted trillions on boondoggles in the middle east and elsewhere, time to spend some money on basics at home for a change.


The other problem with taxing the rich exclusively is that it creates an extremely variable tax base. California has this problem. It gets most of its money from a very small amount of people. Those small amount of people have income the fluctuates wildly based on things like the stock market. So, in good years there’s a huge tax surplus which is very tempting to spend. In bad years tax revenue takes a huge hit.

Bill Gates also makes good points about taxing wealth vs income.

There are also other concerns with taxing the rich: they are very good at avoiding taxes, extremely high taxes can actually remove the incentive to work, etc.

Should the rich be taxed more: most probably. But, my point is that designing a good tax system is hard and complicated. I’m worried that if it becomes something debated primarily in tweets and slogans it will prevent us from building a truly good tax system.


extremely high taxes can actually remove the incentive to work, etc.

Actually the opposite. High taxes means that if you want more money, you have to work even harder for it. If you’re the type to let higher taxes stop you from trying to be wealthy, you weren’t going to fall afoul of higher taxes anyway.


Frankly, tax them, and if they play avoidance make them at least work at it, instead of “oh well”.


This is what is called a straw man. Nobody has suggested this except you.

I’m worried that if it becomes something debated primarily in tweets and slogans it will prevent us from building a truly good tax system.

This is another one.


Props to Gates for doing the following

  • not being shrill
  • listening to the arguments
  • respecting the goals
  • advancing the discussion
  • suggesting ways to meet the goals.
  • keeping the goals (reducing inequality) in the public discussion

Maybe the best ways to reduce wealth inequality have not been widely discussed yet.


Normally I’d say you shouldn’t listen to anything the wealthy have to say about fair taxation, but Gates is making me rethink that. If AOC is smart (and by all accounts she is), she should take this opportunity to show she’s listening and learning. Update her proposal to include wealth taxation.


I never thought I’d be agreeing (at least somewhat) with what Bill Gates has to say about tax reform and extreme wealth. Taxing wealth instead of income is one of the only ways we can reduce inequality.


I’m actually wondering if the reason AOC hasn’t proposed a wealth tax is because the exact people who would be taxed would be mobilized to fight, but right now they’re sitting on their piles of stocks and collectively shrugging at a higher income tax over 10M. Divide and conquer, maybe?


Not what you would call a Bill Gates fan, but he (and his father) have long held some progressive-adjacent tax opinions for quite a while, including on the estate tax.