by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The class-warfare dreams of the American Left do not have a great deal to do with their professed desire to build a Scandinavian-style welfare state here. The U.S. tax system already is much more progressive than is typical of Europe, including the Scandinavian countries, and by some measures is the most progressive in the developed world. The northern-European welfare states do not differ markedly from the United States in how they tax the wealthy; they differ in that they also tax the middle classes heavily, which the United States does not. There is in fact much about the Swedish tax regime that a billionaire might prefer: There is no inheritance tax, no gift tax, very little property tax (it is capped at about $800 a year), relatively low and straightforwardly administered business taxes, etc. Because Sweden is well-governed, it treats its tax regime as a question of revenue rather than a question of so-called social justice. …
… [T]his is not good enough for Elizabeth Warren, who proposes to build a financial Berlin Wall to keep the rich guys in. That’s a little bit funny: Billionaires are awful, evil, wicked, and should not exist — but God help them if they try to grant Bernie Sanders his dearest wish and skedaddle. Singapore doesn’t think billionaires should not exist. Neither does Sweden. Neither does Switzerland. Neither does Italy. Why not let those horrible pinstriped social diseases just go where they are wanted?
Because this is not about revenue. This is about revenge.
Warren’s proposal would see the federal government expropriating 40 percent of the wealth of any American who decided to emigrate, provided that American has enough money to make it worth worrying about. And that number is not as high as you might expect: The current law ensnares those whose average income in the five-year period before renunciation was $162,000 or more, meaning that there are a lot of high-school principals who would need Washington’s permission to split.