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  | Category:  business
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I'm all for the Fat Cat Tax!!!

That being said;

Change the relationship between Wall Street and Government. If a Bailout is needed; Purchase the actual Mortgages (at 20% Discount) upon which the Wall Street securities are based. That gives the Taxpayer power over Wall Street policies instead of the other way around, and it pumps needed CASH into the Credit Market.

It's OK if the Democrat Blue Dogs vote against the plan. 47 Republican Votes can replace theirs, making for a near 50-50 split of support from the two parties. That's Bi-partisanship.

What Both Parties need to make clear is that the Bailout is to protect Trillions of Credit Swaps/Slices and Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDO) that companies have invested in. If these fail, the World Economy may fail under an Avalanche of Debt.

Both parties and the Financial Industry are Guilty as Deregulation of the Financial Industries, Fannie Mae's qualifying of Unqualified Loans, and Wall streets creation and selling of "Credit Default Swaps" and “ Collateral Debt Obligations (CDO) equally threaten to Ruin the world economy.

BUY the actual MORTGAGES from the BANKS and not these Wall Street paper “Black Holes”.

If we buy these ”Paper Debts” at discounted rates, other Banks and Investors will realize how little they are actually worth, which could accelerate the Bank Failure rate.

IF we must invest in Wall Streets problems; BUY THE MORTGAGES at 20% below cost, NOT “the discounted mortgage-backed securities that are choking off credit and roiling the markets”.

Read: How 'credit default swaps'—an insurance against bad loans—turned from a smart bet into a killer.

Posted by: Derek | October 1, 2008 6:33 PM

It is time to stop smokescreening with labels and to deal with the substance of the iisues. There is enough wealth in the top few per cent of the population to bail out Wall Street without it barely being felt. As a person who works 3-4 hours 0n the Obama campaign, I have to vigorously disagree with him now. Let the rich pay back some of their ill gotten gains.

Posted by: Don Mikulecky | October 1, 2008 6:43 PM

Is this what you call "live coverage"? One entry per hour?

Posted by: Karen | October 1, 2008 6:49 PM

he said "maybe he's the only one in America that thinks so"" - more accurate would be that he's the only one in congress that thinks so. We all agree with him.

Posted by: jen | October 1, 2008 7:40 PM

Hi, Karen:
So sue me. I've been here since 9 a.m. I went to the gym for an hour. Now I'm back. Hope you are too.

Posted by: Frank Ahrens | October 1, 2008 7:48 PM

First of all we would like a basic explanation as to why the _conservative_ House Republicans voted against the bailout. Maggie's best guess is that these select Republicans tend to have less wealth, and are therefore in favor of protecting their stay in office. Adrianne thinks that some conservative Republicans can be more ethical than Democratic millionares.

Secondly, we both agree that Obama might be a Democratic millionaire. But McCaine obviously is also a crook.

Posted by: Maggie and Adrianne | October 1, 2008 7:53 PM

I don't see a problem, I agree with him. These guys are crying the blues for the country; let them and the wall street executives/ceos pay.

Watching this though, I thoroughly resent the implication I don't know what I want for my country, I don't understand what is happening, I'm not smart enough to decide what is best. Many of the members are saying they will do what is best, in spite of what their voters think is best. Well, Cardin will loose my vote tonight if he votes yes; and Barbara already lost my vote because of her vote pro on the wire tapping. CLEAN HOUSE; THEY THINK WE ARE CHILDREN WHO DO NOT KNOW WHAT IS BEST. MAKE THEM ALL GONE

Posted by: linda521 | October 1, 2008 7:55 PM


Posted by: linda521 | October 1, 2008 8:01 PM

God, poor Karen. Maybe she read the Web line: Live Updates (plural): Post Reporters (plural) Blog Debate.

Instead of ripping her, why don't you ask for help?

And, 9 to 8 PM is killing you?

Does the WaPo Reporters Union not allow you to cover "the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression?" Or are gym breaks union rules? Must be the Long Island Rail Road.

I bet you not a person in Iraq is working less than 18 hour days.

So you can rip Karen. Hope she's a lawyer.

Posted by: Sue Hoo Hoo | October 1, 2008 8:07 PM

Frank, Really wonder if you should be sneaking off to the gym while the Senate is debating the bailout package and your are suppose to be keeping us informed on what's going on.

Posted by: Phil | October 1, 2008 8:08 PM

You guys are KILLIN' me. If the body goes, the mind goes and then I'm no good to anyone.

Posted by: Frank Ahrens | October 1, 2008 8:16 PM

I think Bernie is on the right track. BUT I would take it a step beyond-- all those folks wanting bailouts should be put to work-- picking up trash, fixing the infrastrucure, fixing up schools in DC and other innercities, fixing up New Orleans-- you name it, it needs to be done. At least we taxpayers would be getting something for our money.

Posted by: annamaria | October 1, 2008 8:45 PM

I agree w/ Bernie Sanders.

Posted by: saracooper | October 1, 2008 9:19 PM

I only hope that some legitimate news organization will tell the story about how democrat corruption a la Enron , sank Fannie and Freddie. Raines, Gorelick and Johnson should go to jail like Ken Lay was supposed to do. The sleazes in Congress who gave them cover and prevented any Bush administration regulatory action, should be held accountable, and should, as a minimum, resign. I'm talking about corrupt mutts like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, and a host of other democrat lowlifes.

Posted by: LarryG | October 1, 2008 9:43 PM

It's sad that a good idea like Sander's gets dismissed as out of the mainstream.

Very few people who make $500K plus are in truly productive jobs, like doctors, scientists, engineers, managers of real businesses. Mostly they are financial parasites, trial lawyers, or top executives whose pay is set by inbred compensation committees.

Bring on the Fat Cat Tax!

Posted by: Jim S. | October 1, 2008 10:19 PM

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