At Davos today, Michael Dell—the computer guy—was asked, for some reason, what he thought about freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s very reasonable and politically popular proposed 70 percent marginal tax on very rich people. He, and the rest of the room at this useless bullshit conference, responded with mockery:
Michael Dell is worth over $30 billion dollars. No one should have that much money. The idea that no one should have that much money, and that this money belongs to workers and the public, is central to Ocasio-Cortez’s political project. His scorn is not only not a bad thing, it’s actively a very good thing.
Dell isn’t the only one at Davos who’s pissing their pants over Ocasio-Cortez. CNBC reported that Davos attendees, including Republican and Democratic megadonors, were united in their opposition to the idea:
“It’s scary,” Scott Minerd, global chief investment officer for $265 billion Guggenheim Partners, said in an interview.
“By the time we get to the presidential election, this is going to gain more momentum,” said Minerd, who added that he would probably be personally impacted by it. “And I think the likelihood that a 70 percent tax rate, or something like that, becomes policy is actually very real.”
In Davos, Stephen Schwarzman, the billionaire CEO of private equity giant Blackstone and Republican megadonor, said sarcastically that he is “wildly enthusiastic” about the lawmaker’s proposed tax hike. He added that “the U.S. is the second most progressive tax regime in the world,” meaning that tax rates climb along with higher incomes.
Members of the Democratic establishment were bearish on the proposal’s chances. Glenn Hutchins, founder of private equity firm Silver Lake Partners and a Democratic party donor, called Ocasio-Cortez’s idea political posturing that wouldn’t likely make it through Congress.
“The important thing in my view is not to try to score political points with having a 70 percent, very high tax rate. The important thing is to try to figure out a tax system that is both fair and efficient,” Hutchins said. “You got to get something like that through the House, then you have to get it through the Senate, and then you have to get the president of the United States to sign it.”
“A tax system that is both fair and efficient” would actually take more of Hutchins’ many millions than the modest proposal Ocasio-Cortez is making, but I digress.
After several years of the word “populism” being applied to an actual billionaire who occasionally gripes about “globalists” and the influence of money in politics in between passing scam tax cuts that make the rich even richer, here’s a good example of actual populism. And even though the majority of the ultra-rich mostly stood by and watched as the current president threw kids in cages, banned Muslims from entering the country, equivocated on the moral goodness of Nazis immediately after one murdered an innocent woman, and so on, these people simply cannot hold themselves back from coming after a freshman congresswoman who’s asking them to pay slightly more for their much bigger slice of the pie.
Ocasio-Cortez has done in a matter of weeks what the majority of Democrats have been completely unable to do for the last several years, because they’re only slightly less enamored with pleasing the Chamber of Commerce than the Republicans are: Pinpoint a class of enemy whose bad characteristics isn’t its race or religion or gender or political correctness, but rather the amount of harm it’s actually doing to society by being so fucking greedy.
They recognize her as an enemy, too, meaning she’s already joined a class populated by Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and not many other people. Good. She should—and likely does—welcome their hatred.