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Commentary: Follow FDRs sage advice: Tax those most able to pay
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America’s economy is in the midst of a Great Stagnation that almost rivals the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the nation is fighting a costly and prolonged worldwide war against relentless Islamic terrorism.While the federal budget is hemorrhaging red ink, the wealthy in America not only are not paying their fair share — they quite often pay a lower percentage of their income than those in the struggling middle class.Yet neither Republicans nor Democrats in Congress seem to have much stomach to correct this glaring inequity.None has stepped forward to push legislation that comes close to mirroring legendary investor Warren Buffett’s call for moving immediately to implement minimum taxes of 30 percent on incomes of $1 million to $10 million and 35 percent above that.“A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultra rich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours,” Buffett wrote last year in a New York Times op-ed.“Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy,” he added.I’d go a giant step further. In this time of economic turbulence and travail, we ought to temporarily return to the high marginal tax rates that pulled us out of the Great Depression and made us the “Arsenal of Democracy” during World War II.In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt persuaded Congress to raise the top income tax rate to 75 percent applied to incomes above $5 million. During 1944 and 1945, the top rate rose further to an all-time high of 94 percent applied to all income above $200,000.Surprisingly, few among the wealthy complained at the time.