by George Rasley
Vermont’s Socialist Senator and top-tier Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is one of the true disruptors in American politics. His unconventional ideas defy easy categorization as he campaigns around the country on his own idiosyncratic brand of Democratic Socialism.
Bernie’s latest break with the conventional ideas of the Woke Left came when he said he was opposed to one of the near-universal positions of the Democratic presidential field: mandatory gun buybacks.
Over the weekend Sanders broke with most of the rest of the Democratic presidential field saying mandatory firearm buybacks are “unconstitutional” and “essentially confiscation.”
“I don’t support — a mandatory buyback is essentially confiscation, which I think is unconstitutional,” said Bernie on the campaign trail in Iowa. “It means that I am going to walk into your house and take something whether you like it or not. I don’t think that stands up to constitutional scrutiny.”
“We cannot allow the NRA to dictate policy because they’ve intimidated [President] Trump and they’ve intimidated the Republican party,” he added. “I’m not going to be intimidated by them.”
Lest you be fooled into thinking that the old Socialist warhorse has suddenly revealed a newfound affection for private property (beside his three mansions) you’d be wrong, because, while Sen. Sanders may be opposed to confiscation of your firearms, he still wants your money.
When the New York Times trumpeted an article about his “wealth tax” proposal on Twitter, Sanders replied with a succinct tweet of his own: Billionaires should not exist.
Sanders’s plan calls for an up to 8% annual tax on wealth over $16 million for individuals and $32 million for married couples. The tax would begin at 1% per year for those above that threshold and gradually rise to a maximum of 8% for those with assets of $10 billion or more, explained Ben Walsh in an article for Barron’s.
Mr. Walsh says such a tax would apply to about 180,000 households and raise $4.35 trillion in revenue over 10 years, according to an analysis by University of California, Berkeley professors Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, who also consulted with Sen. Elizabeth Warren on her wealth tax plan..
“Enough is enough,” Sanders said in a statement quoted by Ben Walsh. “We are going to take on the billionaire class, substantially reduce wealth inequality in America, and stop our democracy from turning into a corrupt oligarchy.”
How long do you think it would be before the tax on “extreme wealth” would turn into a tax on the next income bracket down, and then the next until financial success becomes virtually illegal?
And here’s the kicker – there is significant debate over whether a wealth tax is even constitutional.
Forbes contributor Peter J. Reilly says the idea of a wealth tax is constitutionally dubious.
After a pretty good history lesson about taxes and the pernicious passage of the 16th Amendment that created the federal income tax and enabled the rise of today’s federal Leviathan, Mr. Reilly offered this analysis from attorney Louis Vlahos of Farrel Fritz:
Which brings me to the wealth tax. It is clearly a direct tax – period – which means that it has to satisfy the apportionment requirement [of the Constitution]. Given the geographic concentration of wealth (NYC, Miami, LA, etc.), how can such a tax ever be “apportioned” among the States according to their populations, in the commonly-accepted sense of that word? Or do we need to reconsider what we mean by apportionment or the relevant population?
We will hear legal arguments from every side of the debate. Unfortunately, much of it will be a question of semantics and wordplay. Much of it will be politically-motivated, in the worst sense of that phrase.
Moreover, if any legislation were enacted, the lawyers would be the primary beneficiaries of interpreting and planning for the new rules. (Just witness what has followed the TCJA.)
I am not going to comment on the impetus for such a tax, or on the need for it, or on the wisdom of imposing it. Nor am I going to comment on providing more funds to a dysfunctional Washington via a new tax rather than through an existing tax – the consequences will be the same.
Of course, there are passionate views and arguments in support of the constitutionality of a wealth tax, which you can read in Mr. Reilly’s article, but fortunately for those of us who see a wealth tax as being an unconstitutional violation of the promises of the Declaration of Independence, Senator Sanders’ idiosyncratic, if not downright contradictory, views on the Constitution leave us with the one item of personal property with which we can defend our property and wealth from confiscation; our guns.
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Photo “Bernie Sanders” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.