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Letter to the Editor - Redistribution would not hurt the wealthy

Letter to the Editor published in the Columbus Dispatch on May 14, 2015

Michael Barone argued in the May 8 Dispatch that wealth redistribution is bad.  He spends time commenting on how bad Obamacare and its rollout were and are, just so he can state that government can't do much right, including redistribute wealth.  For some reason, he mentions an interview by Will Smith on French television to demonstrate that people (Will Smith) don't want high taxes.  Of course, this is silly.  Redistribution has been back and forth since the founding of this country.  Most recently, after World War II, the top marginal tax rate was 91% until it dropped to 77% in 1964. During that post-war period, we saw the greatest increase in the middle class ever. Rates dropped again in 1982 to 50%.

The top marginal tax rate in 2013 was 39.6%.  Why did it drop so much, from 91% to 39.6%?  The wealthy and corporations lobbied for the reduction.  They wanted to redistribute the tax burden from themselves to everyone else so that they would pay less.  More importantly, wasn't that a redistribution from the middle class to the wealthy?  Under the current scheme, the middle class has declined and income has become much more unequal.  An increase in the top marginal income tax rate would reverse the decline that has occurred over the past several decades.  And such a change would not hurt the wealthy at all, but it would certainly help the poor and middle class.

John Lytle


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