Taxation Discourse, Partisanship, And Honestly Representing Differing Views

There’s been some confusion on what Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez suggested would help finance the Green New Deal which is a plan that would help the United States curb America’s carbon dioxide emissions. One of the people apparently confused by the suggestion is House Minority Whip Steve Scalise who is the Representative representing Louisana’’s 1st congressional district.

Please note, this is not an article saying Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez is correct, this is an article exploring what she said and representing it honestly.

What is a Marginal Income Tax Rate?

A marginal income tax rate is a tax rate incurred on each additional dollar of income. This increases for individuals as their income increases and makes it so that low-income earners are taxed at a lower rate than higher income earners. This doesn’t mean each individual dollar is taxed at the highest applicable rate, it means that the first/lowest few dollars are taxed at a lower rate and as money increases so does the percentage at which it’s being taxed. If you earn 100 dollars they are all taxed the same. If you make $12,000 all the dollars up to $9,525 are taxed at the same rate and then the dollars from $9,526-$12,000 are taxed at a different, slightly higher rate.

This is separate from a flat tax rate wherein the rate of taxes deducted from income stays flat across the board. It means everyone experiences the same percentage of money taken from their collective income instead of experiencing an increase in taxation as their income increases and only experiencing that pursuant to the moment their income reaches a certain dollar amount.

What did Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez propose?

She proposed increasing the cap on the marginal income tax rate and she’s suggesting increasing the number of tax brackets there are that determine how much of the top earner’s highest incomes are taxed. Currently there are 7 brackets in the federal income tax brackets (the numbers here for for single filers), not including the minimum charge that accompanies each bracket after the first they are 10% for income up to $9,525, 12% for income from $9,526-$38,700, 22% for income from $38,701-$82,500, 24% for income from there up to $157,500, 32% for income from there until $200,000 dollars, 35% for income from 200,000-500,000 dollars, and 37% for income beyond 500,001 dollars. If the Congresswoman nearly doubled the taxes owed for people made beyond 500,001 dollars a year in income that’d be a somewhat understandable suggestion to get annoyed at but that’s not she’s suggesting.

By increasing the number of brackets Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez would be smartly pointing out that there’s a massive difference between earning $500,000 a year in income and earning $5,000,000 a year in income which our current federal income tax system doesn’t do. And it’s not just the current federal income tax system that does this, it’s also House Minority Whip Steve Scalise.

What Did The House Minority Whip Say?

Congressman Scalise tweeted this. In case you don’t feel like heading over to the tweet here’s what it said:

“Republicans: Let Americans keep more of their own hard-earned money Democrats: Take away 70% of your income and give it to leftist fantasy programs.”

And then linked to an article from

The article is relatively unimportant to this particular blog post because this isn’t an article proclaiming that Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal is the best path forward but an article about the proposal but if you want to read it you can and should. It goes into some detail about past perceptions of the effectiveness of taxation and provides a criticism of Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal. What is important is that a sitting congressman lied about a policy suggestion by a member of the other party. Congressman Steve Scalise’s statement isn’t at all accurate.

What the House Minority Whip said, “Democrats: Take away 70% of your income and give it to leftist fantasy programs” is comically inaccurate. In fact the only way it’d be accurate is if the United States not only suddenly shifted to a flat income tax rate system on the federal income tax but also made said flat income tax rate an astounding 70%. That is almost double what we marginally tax the income of the highest tax bracket of our current federal income tax system.

You can criticize an opposing politicians policy proposals without misrepresenting them. But we all know how easy it is to claim victory over an opponent made of straw.

Policy proposals shouldn’t be viewed from such a partisan point of view. This was a disappointingly dishonest tweet from the House Minority Whip.