Lottery Mike is down with a 70 percent marginal tax rate

img_2869Ever since the PowerMonsterMegaBall hit $1.6 billion, “Lottery Mike,” a highly fictionalized version of myself who becomes an overnight billionaire, has been a pre-occupation. What would Lottery Mike do with all that money?

Had Lottery Mike hit that number (and the person who did hasn’t cashed it in yet, btw) the cash-out-worst-case-option would have been a check for about $980 million. That’s more money than I could spend in what’s left of my life. That includes all the money I’d spend to extend my life. Lottery Mike could have very well ended up a sentient head in a jar.

This is a fantasy hardwired in many of us, raised on the promise of an America that I’d like to think still exists but have seen little evidence to this point.

So when I heard about a Democratic proposal to establish a new marginal tax rate of 70 percent, my first thought was, “How will this affect Lottery Mike?”

Lottery Mike does not exist. But my instinct was to view this policy through his eyes. Oh my God, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants to take away 70 percent of Lottery Mike’s winnings. That’s neither true or fair.

I did the math. I did it simply rather than accurately. If I were taxed 70 percent of $1.6 billion (and here’s where the simple/accurate bit comes in: I didn’t account for the first $10 million which would be taxed at a much smaller rate), I’d get a check for $480 million. Again, more money than I could spend in my lifetime.

So I think Lottery Mike would be okay with it. Especially since Lottery Mike doesn’t exist.

But part of what it means to be an American is to believe that Lottery Mike might one day exist.

And it is for that reason that a lot of people who will never, ever be affected by the top marginal rate no matter what percentage it is, are against the idea of a 70 percent tax rate. They got Lottery Mikes too.

You keep Lottery Mike’s hopes and dreams as close to your heart as you keep your own because you don’t want to wake up one day a billionaire and get caught flat footed. So when the real world shows you a scenario in which your wildest daydreams get a 70-percent cut, it feels real. It doesn’t feel hypothetical. But really, you’re just imagining up money. Imagine up a little more.

While you’ve got your imagination caps on, imagine what our society could look like with a fully funded public education system, without young people saddled with a lifetime of student loan debt, with cleaner air and water, with better roads and infrastructure, with funding for arts and humanities. When we had a top marginal rate of more than 80 percent, we went to the moon. We built the interstate highway system.

Pundits and politicians will squeal about it. They’ll complain. They’ll try to make you think you’re going to have to give up 70 percent of your income to the gubmint. They know better. They just can’t sell their greed to the public. That’s why they have to lie to you about it. They want you to pity poor Lottery Mike. They want you to believe you’re just a temporarily embarrassed millionaire who is one Republican vote away from opening up the opportunity that’s going to turn it all around for you.

But in the meantime, you don’t want to change the rules for rich people. — not when you’re so close to being one yourself one day.

Lottery Mike is a fantasy. He’s not a basis for sound economic policy. He’s not a lens through which one can see things as they are. You can’t make policy based on how it will affect Lottery Mike when real-life people are suffering.

So real-life Mike and Lottery Mike both support the idea of a 70 percent top marginal rate for income in excess of $10 million. If that makes you less likely to work hard and earn money then I question your motivations (and your understanding of marginal tax rates). In the meantime, everyone can benefit as we move forward together. We just have to give up worrying about how Lottery Mike is going to get by on $480 million.


100 Days. That’s Like . . . a Lot of Days, Right? (The Trump/Nixon Tapes Part 4)

Trump Button

[What follows is a transcript of President Donald Trump speaking into the Oval Office recording device originally used by President Richard Nixon. This series of recordings encompasses the president’s communication to his inner circle.]

To: The Trump Circle of Trust (TCT)

cc: Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight Committee
Steve Mnuchin, secretary of Treasury

Shiela? Make a note to tell whoever is bringing me a Coke every time I press this red button on my desk to ease up on the ice. The red button means “Coke” not “ice with some Coke splashed over it, okay?”

Okay, people, this “100 days thing” is starting to wear on my nerves. I don’t know who decided that this was going to be a big deal, but all I’m seeing on TV is how unproductive Trump’s first 100 days will be. Where did anyone get the idea that I was going to get a lot of things accomplished in the first 100? Not that we haven’t. I mean look at all the executive orders I signed. I even read some of them. Well, I skimmed them. Or I had Shiela give me the bullet points. I’m the president. I don’t have a lot of time for reading. The point is that 100 days isn’t a lot of time when you’re dealing with a Republican congress. I don’t know what Ron thinks he’s doing over there, but it’s a disaster.

That’s okay though. I know how to fix it.

It will turn around for us when those coal mining companies start hiring again. Somebody has to dump all that sludge into the rivers, right? It doesn’t dump itself.

Anyway, I knew that tax reform was going to be a beautiful thing, right? How about that Tax Reform Plan, huh? That was a huge weight off my mind, getting that done, let me tell you. People kept saying it was going to be too hard. The Commerce Secretary, what’s his name, Munchkin? He said it would be August before we’d have it. But I stepped up and said we’d have it by Wednesday and there it was. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m looking forward to my huge tax cut. Does anyone think the base is going to remember any of the promises I made on taxes? I don’t see how they will. I can’t. I’m sure I must have said something about cutting taxes on the wealthy, getting rid of the alternative minimum tax (that’s gonna save me about $23 million a year), not allowing deductions on 401(k) contributions, and paying for it all with deficit spending. Does that sound familiar to anybody? I am one thousand percent certain that’s what I promised. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be in my tax plan, right? Nailed it. There’s another 100-day accomplishment for the list. Is someone keeping a list? Jared?

You know what I miss most about my life before the presidency? I mean besides getting my Cokes served to me with the right amount of ice? Driving. No one told me the president doesn’t get to drive anymore. Half the reason I go golfing every weekend is so I can drive the cart around. Trump likes to be in the driver’s seat. This job is so much harder than I thought. I thought my life was going to be easier after the election. It looked so easy on “The West Wing.” Television wouldn’t lie to me, would it? Do these reporters know how hard this job is? If they did, I bet they’d be nicer to me. I should probably remind them I won the election.

Shiela? Have someone print me up some more electoral maps to hand out to reporters. I gave my last bunch to that group from Reuters. They seemed impressed. I made sure to tell them that the red states went for Trump. I don’t know why I’m not seeing more stories about how I won the election.

And what’s with all the nerds marching in protest against me? I don’t have anything against science? I went to Wharton. They have science classes there, I imagine. Don’t these people know that the election is over? Hold on.

That should do it. Speaking of the election being over, how are the crowds looking for my campaign rally in Pennsylvania on Day 100? Huge, right? Nobody gets crowds like us. Should I bring copies of the electoral map to hand out?

Jared? How are we coming along with dismantling the 9th Circuit? I’m pretty sure I put you in charge of that, right? Did you call them yet? If we could get that done by the 29th, I can count it as a 100-day accomplishment. Can you believe they halted my executive order on sanctuary cities? Even after my lawyers argued that the order didn’t actually do anything? Can I fire that judge? Someone ask Jeff Sessions if he can fire that judge. He’s already in Dutch with the Hawaiians and with New York, so he probably won’t mind going after San Fransisco too. You know how he is. Jared? Send Sessions a basket of pineapples and Rice-a-Roni. He’ll know what it means.

I’ll admit I haven’t been paying close attention, but did we lose eleven states while I was out playing golf? Why does the American flag on the birthday card I tweeted to Melania only have 39 stars on it? Did we exclude some of the blue states or something? Do you know how much that’s going to cost me at the Tiffany store in the lobby of my building where she lives?

I will say this. I’m getting pretty sick of everyone scrutinizing every word I say. It’s getting so I can’t josh around with people and bullshit a little without everyone making a big, fat, international disaster out of it. Take North Korea, some reporter asked me if we’re going to have a conflict with North Korea. Now, what am I supposed to say? No? That would be tipping my hand. So I said there’s “a chance” remember that. I said there was “absolutely” “a chance” we might be headed for a major, major conflict with North Korea. Then the dishonest media plays it up like I said we might be going to war with North Korea or something. Now I’ve got to smooth it all over with some Trump diplomacy.

Why are we still talking about Mike Flynn? Chaffetz? I thought you were on my side. I thought we were cool! Now all of a sudden you’re wanting paperwork on this guy? I don’t do paperwork, I’m a businessman. We make deals with a handshake. Flynn was helpful during the campaign, so I gave him the most important job I could think of that didn’t require senate confirmation. How was I supposed to know he was working for the Russians? I was working on my extreme vetting program for those Syrian refugees. I mean what the hell, Jason? You call a press conference to complain to the crooked media about paperwork? Look, I appreciate you trying to clean it up, but seriously. You just need to shut up and go away.

Maybe we need a distraction. Is there a Nazi around here we can spare?