Friday, March 20, 2009

By all means tax the daylights out of the rich folks!

This morning, my Dad says, "Do you think the bill making its way through Congress putting a 90% income tax on the AIG bonuses is constitutional?"

I admit my initial reaction to my Dad was "Hmmm...sounds like a bill of attainder." However, I then said, we'll have to see what the language says. If it's general enough, it will pass constitutional muster, the way a windfall profits tax does.

Sure enough, there were people blogging about this earlier in the week. See this Atlantic magazine blog piece, and follow the links.

I think this is a constitutional bill, and I hope Obama signs it. Still, we're not yet focusing on the larger issue of wealth distribution in this nation--and maybe it's time to consider an overall a cap on income. Why should money be the only thing unlimited in scope and time in our lives? A cap on income can be done, but don't look for the Roberts Court (and even Clinton corporate Democrats Breyer and Ginsburg) to declare such a measure would be constitutional. Still, reading this post at Jack Balkin's legal blog does give me some hope that we can restore some balance through marginal tax increases at the top 1% of incomes out there.

And President Obama? Don't hesitate to sign this legislation. Sign it--and let's see what the Roberts Court does with it. I'd love to see the Roberts Court grit its teeth and go, "Well, okay..." It should, but again one wonders whether the corporate minds at our Supreme Court are capable of understanding that the Constitution is a far more open document when it comes to economic regulation than is often thought at elite levels these past thirty years.

Two old blog posts of mine explain my thoughts in a bit more detail...


ADDENDUM: Via Josh Marshall at Talking Points, here is Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) handing a hat to a pro-corporate shill on CNBCrap. Brad was my congressman at one time, and he is one of the truly smart people in the Village known as DC. He is an accountant and a lawyer, and knows his stuff. I hope he doesn't fall for the bill of attainder argument though...Stay strong, Brad, stay strong!


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