Ocasio-Cortez floats 70 percent tax on rich to pay for Green New Deal

Less than a day after being sworn in as the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., appears ready to push an ambitious plan to combat climate change.

In an interview with Anderson Cooper scheduled for broadcast on CBS’ “60 Minutes” Sunday, Ocasio-Cortez suggested implementing an income tax rate of up to 70 percent on wealthy Americans to pay for the so-called Green New Deal, a program to move the country toward zero carbon emissions.

“People are going to have to start paying their fair share in taxes,” the 29-year-old said. “You look at our tax rates back in the ’60s and when you have a progressive tax rate system your tax rate, you know, let’s say, from zero to $75,000, maybe 10 percent or 15 percent, etc. But once you get to, like, the tippy tops — on your 10-millionth dollar — sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70 percent.

“That doesn’t mean all $10 million [earners] are taxed at an extremely high rate,” Ocasio-Cortez added. “But it means that as you climb up this ladder you should be contributing more.”

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42 PHOTOS
States where Americans pay the highest in state income taxes
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States where Americans pay the highest in state income taxes

California

State income tax: 1% to 13.3% 

Maine

State income tax: 5.8% to 10.15%

Oregon

State income tax: 5% to 9.9%

Minnesota

State income tax: 5.35% to 9.85%

Iowa

State income tax: 0.36% to 8.98%

New Jersey

State income tax: 1.4% to 8.97%

Vermont

State income tax: 3.55% to 8.95%

Washington, DC

State income tax: 4% to 8.95%

New York

State income tax: 4% to 8.82%

Hawaii

State income tax: 1.4% to 8.25%

Wisconsin

State income tax: 4% to 7.65%

Idaho

State income tax: 1.6% to 7.4%

South Carolina

State income tax: 0% to 7%

Connecticut

State income tax: 3% to 6.99%

Arkansas

State income tax: 0.9% to 6.9%

Montana

State income tax: 1% to 6.9%

Nebraska

State income tax: 2.46% to 6.84%

Delaware

State income tax: 2.2% to 6.6%

West Virginia

State income tax: 3% to 6.5%

Georgia

State income tax: 1% to 6%

Kentucky

State income tax: 2% to 6%

Louisiana

State income tax: 2% to 6%

Missouri

State income tax: 1.5% to 6%

Rhode Island

State income tax: 3.75% to 5.99%

Maryland

State income tax: 2% to 5.75%

North Carolina

State income tax: 5.75%

Virginia

State income tax: 2% to 5.75%

Oklahoma

State income tax: 0.5% to 5.25%

Massachusetts

State income tax: 5.1%

Alabama

State income tax: 2% to 5%

Mississippi

State income tax: 3% to 5%

Utah

State income tax: 5%

Ohio

State income tax: 0.495% to 4.997%

New Mexico

State income tax: 1.7% to 4.9%

Colorado

State income tax: 4.63%

Kansas

State income tax: 2.7% to 4.6%

Arizona

State income tax: 2.59% to 4.54%

Michigan

State income tax: 4.25%

Illinois

State income tax: 3.75%

Indiana

State income tax: 3.3%

Pennsylvania

State income tax: 3.07%

North Dakota

State income tax: 1.1% to 2.9%

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In 1932, Congress raised the marginal income-tax rate on top earners to 63 percent. It remained high from the 1950s through the 1970s, reaching a maximum of over 90 percent, and never dipped below 70 percent. It was slashed in the 80s. In 2018, the highest rate on earned income was dropped from 44 percent to 37 percent.

For married couples filing a joint return, that rate currently applies to income above around $600,000, which represents the top bracket (of seven); their effective rate would be less, because lower rates apply to income below this threshold. The impact of a change in income-tax rates would depend on the bracket structure.

In a speech Thursday afternoon, newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress needs to address the “existential threat of our time: the climate crisis,” and suggested an economic component would be needed to solve it.

“The entire Congress must work to put an end to the inaction and denial of science that threaten the planet and the future,” Pelosi said. “This is a public health decision for clean air and clean water; an economic decision for America’s global preeminence in green technology; a security decision to keep us safe; and a moral decision to be good stewards of God’s creation.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s climate plan would reduce U.S. carbon emissions to zero — and eliminate the use of fossil fuels — within 12 years.

“It’s going to require a lot of rapid change that we don’t even conceive as possible right now,” she said. “What is the problem with trying to push our technological capacities to the furthest extent possible?”

When Cooper suggested her plan to pay for it was “radical,” Ocasio-Cortez embraced the label.

“Well, I think that it only has ever been radicals that have changed this country,” she said. “Abraham Lincoln made the radical decision to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. Franklin Delano Roosevelt made the radical decision to embark on establishing programs like Social Security. That is radical.”

“Do you call yourself a radical?” Cooper asked.

“Yeah. You know, if that’s what radical means, call me a radical,” she replied.

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