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Billionaire Asks Where A 70% Tax Rate Has Ever Worked, Gets Nailed


At the World Economic Forum in Davos Friday, billionaire Michael Dell was asked what he thinks about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed 70 percent tax rate on earnings after the first $10 million. The question got a laugh from the panel and the audience, and Dell predictably said he did not support this tax plan. When asked why, he shot back with a demand that must have made every American history expert laugh.

“Name a country where that’s worked, ever.”

“The United States,” chimed in MIT Professor Erik Brynjolfsson. When the host suggested that this was true “briefly, in the 80s,” Brynjolfsson gave the entire room an important history lesson.

“No, no, no. From about the 1930s through about the 1960s, the [top] tax rate averaged about 70 percent. At times, it was as high as 95 percent, and those were actually pretty good years for growth.”

This is the same thing that Ocasio-Cortez has been patiently trying to explain to detractors for several weeks now, but it’s nice to see a professor correct a billionaire right to his face.

Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Technologies, does not appear to attempt to respond to this basic history lesson. Hopefully, he’ll take Brynjolfsson’s words to heart. He can certainly afford to pay a 70% tax rate on his estimated $32 billion in total wealth. Maybe he doesn’t need to own the most expensive penthouse in all of New York? At least not while there are 40 million people in the U.S. living at or below the poverty line.

Twitter certainly thinks so.

The real question is, was Michael Dell really ignorant about the high marginal tax rates during the mid-20th century, or does he just want to convince the rest of us that him not paying his fair share is good for us?





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