Yesterday, we set down a marker for the Democrats about not including abortion services in any federal health insurance option. Today, let’s applaud House Democrats for figuring out a way to finance the health care reform by taxing the super-rich.
The tax plan only hits families making more than $350,000 per annum. These super-rich folk would be assessed a federal tax surcharge on top of their regular tax bill. The surcharge would start at 1 percent of income and rise from there. For those making more than $1 million per year, the surcharge would be capped at $5.4 percent of income. The money would help our nation finally achieve universal health insurance.
Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate argued explicitly that financial decisions, both by individuals and by governments, must reflect sound ethical norms and promote social justice. This proposal would seem to fit that description perfectly. If you are making more than $350,000 a year, losing a bit of extra money to the tax man will not change your lifestyle. Maybe you would have to put off buying that bigger boat for a month, or doing the repairs on the Condo in the mountains, but you will still be able to afford the boat and the repairs. In turn, you will be helping the least advantaged in our society finally achieve what the Church has called a basic human right, access to good, affordable health care.
The neo-cons will rant that the proposal will stifle investment. This is an argument that only an academic can make. If you have a given amount of cash, say, one million dollars and you wish to invest it, you are going to do so in whatever enterprise you think is most likely to yield a good return. You are not going to keep it in a savings account earning 2 percent because you are afraid of the tax consequences. There is always an incentive to make money no matter what the tax consequences, unless the tax is one hundred percent. Then, you are spinning your wheels. Otherwise, whatever happens between you and the tax man, you will make investments that will earn you more income to begin with.
Some will say that this proposal amounts to a redistribution of wealth. That’s correct. And, again, this is precisely the kind of redistribution the Pope commends in his encyclical. It is not taking from some to give to others for the hell of it. It is taxing those who have grown rich through their own industry and through the opportunities for growing rich our society affords them, to give others a fundamental human right, making the entire society more just and, just so, more productive, opening even more opportunities for the investor class to make more money.
I vote for Democrats for one primary reason. They raise taxes on the rich. It remains a good reason to vote for them. Now, so long as they can keep the abortion funding out of the bill, this health care reform could become the first outstanding example of a policy that reflects Benedict’s call for a more just society.