Right-wing media furious over Democratic proposal to tax billionaires

A tax on billionaires may never even go up for a vote – but right-wing media are not leaving anything to chance

President Joe Biden and Democrats have been circling a plan to tax billionaires, and right-wing media are furious.

This proposed tax has not been voted on, much less faced the inevitable court challenges. But the outlines of it which are emerging reveal key details: The tax would be levied only on those with more than $1 billion in assets or anyone who makes $100 million in income for three consecutive years. As The New York Times reports, “The legislation would impose the capital gains tax — 23.8 percent — on the gain in value of billionaires’ tradable assets, such as stocks, bonds and cash, based on the original price of those assets.” 

Additionally, in order to discourage these billionaires from moving their money “from tradable assets like stocks to less liquid ones like real estate or companies,” the proposal would “impose a new interest charge on them, which would be paid when those assets were sold, on top of the existing capital gains tax.”

The proposal also gives consideration to the billionaires; as the Times notes, they would have five years to pay the first bill, and “could also deem up to $1 billion of tradable stock in a single corporation to be a non-tradable asset, to ensure that founders of a company could maintain their controlling shares.” There are also additional means in the proposal to prevent billionaires from finding ways around the bill.

In sum: This would lead to significant tax bills for the super-wealthy. For instance, Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s net worth increased by $36 billion recently as a result of Hertz ordering 100,000 Tesla cars; that $36 billion is not currently taxed, but it would be under the new tax proposal.

The Washington Post reports that the proposal would raise more than half of its revenue from just 10 men:

WaPo billionaires tax graphic

Again, it is worth noting that the Post also mentions that there is dissent among Democrats about the plan, and until something passes, nothing is certain. To that point, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has called the plan divisive, putting its future in doubt.

And while it may never come to fruition, right-wing media are misleading about it and defending billionaires from higher taxation.

  • After saying that the tax would target the super-wealthy, Fox host Sean Hannity immediately suggested that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen was lying when she said the tax would be aimed at “extremely wealthy individuals.” Hannity went on to fearmonger that the tax could be applied to “all of us,” including pension funds and 401(k)s. 
  • Citing the history of the alternative minimum tax -- which requires some people to calculate their tax liability under both regular income tax and alternative minimum tax to pay a higher amount -- Fox host Charles Payne argued that the new proposal would inevitably expand over time. (Payne did not mention that Trump’s tax cut drastically reduced the number of people affected by the alternative minimum tax.)
  • On One America News Network, Stephen Moore, longtime right-wing pundit and current adviser to Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin in Virginia, joined host Kara McKinney to commiserate over the proposal, with Moore saying, “I don’t believe when they say only affect millionaires and billionaires. I think they’re coming after all of us.”
  • Moore also appeared on Newsmax, where he told the audience “don't believe” that it will only affect billionaires. One host worried that the tax would “trickle down” to other Americans.
  • Charlie Kirk flat-out lied about the proposal, saying people making $100,000 a year would be “slammed” by it even though they are specifically excluded unless they have a billion dollars worth of assets.
  • The Daily Wire's Matt Walsh falsely claimed that “tens of millions of Americans” would inevitably be swept up in this plan: “You have to be the biggest moron on Earth to go along with something like this because it will it will affect you too – unless you live your whole life and never own anything.”
  • The Wall Street Journal editorial board scoffed at the plan being targeted to billionaires: “That’s what they always say.”
  • The Daily Wire cited the billionaire owner of the Houston Rockets, who said that “our great capitalism will slowly come to an end” if the plan is passed.
  • YouTube and BlazeTV vlogger Steven Crowder tweeted, “Elon Musk’s money is not yours. You have no inherent right to it.”