MANCHESTER, NH — During Saturday night’s debate, Republican candidates categorically refused to raise taxes on millionaires if elected president.
Though ABC moderators noted that “68 percent of Americans favor raising taxes on people making more than $1 million,” all candidates who answered refused to endorse such a proposal, with some calling the notion “class warfare,” and others implying that those on welfare live better than those who work.
Jeb Bush, whose tax plan would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest Americans, answered, “This notion that somehow we’re under-taxed as a nation is just foolhardy.”
Bush then invoked the Reagan-era myth of the “welfare queen” saying he met a woman at a recent town hall who “described her neighbor who has a better economic deal by not working than her, struggling to make ends meet.”
Bush told ABC that he believes in a tax system “where people are rewarded for work, rather than non-work.” Yet his tax plan would reward non-work by cutting taxes on inherited wealth and profits from investments.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie echoed Bush’s answer, calling the idea of raising taxes on millionaires “class warfare.” Speaking directly to the cameras, he said his message for the 68 percent of Americans who support increasing taxes on the rich is, “You’re wrong.”
“It is a failed idea and a failed policy, it’s class warfare,” he said. “It will hurt the American economy.”
Candidates on the Democratic side of the 2016 race have pointed out that past Republican presidents have supporting taxing the wealthy at a rate as high as 92 percent, and the economy boomed under such a policy. Economists say a 90 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans — compared to the current 39.6 percent — would significantly reduce income and wealth inequality and boost government revenues, and would not discourage the wealthy from their work.