The Bernie Sanders Fat Cat Tax
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is the only independent in the Senate and can evoke a "God love him" reaction for his sometimes out-of-the-mainstream, passionately argued ideas.
True to form, today the self-identified "democratic socialist" introduced an amendment to the $700 billion Wall Street rescue plan ripped right from the pages of a classic Marxist economics text.
Sanders just wrapped up a long speech inveighing against the Wall Street fat cats who he says got the nation into the current financial crisis because they were "drunk on greed."
Therefore, Sanders said, they should pay to get us out of this mess.
His amendment: For every individual making more than $500,000 and every family making more than $1 million, the tax rate should be raised from 35 percent to 45 percent, creating a 10 percent surtax on millionaires.
This, Sanders said, would raise $300 billion in the next five years.
Even though Sanders's jeremiad drew praise from Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) afterward, it's worth noting that about half of the 100 senators are millionaires, Forbes estimates.
In his speech, Sanders touched on predatory lending, Bush-sponsored deregulation and the credit card solicitations that arrive in his Vermont mailbox.
He followed one point by saying, "Maybe I'm the only person in America who thinks so," a phrase that he probably is used to uttering.
For most of his speech, Sanders displayed on an easel behind him a blown-up photograph of Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, looking into the distance with a perplexed expression. Text on the photo noted that Paulson is the former chief executive of Goldman Sachs and that he made millions while there.
-- Frank Ahrens
October 1, 2008; 6:20 PM ET
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