Why aggressively taxing the obscenely rich is key to fighting fascism
Wealthy friends sip champagne on a yacht (Shutterstock)

A reader asked the other day why the Republicans are voting against the full faith and credit of the United States when the GOP comprises so many millionaires and billionaires invested in financial markets. In other words, why would the very obscenely rich support a party that's clearly threatening the very obscene power of the very obscenely rich?

One theory, which I think is the right theory, is they don't want the Republicans to prevail. They think the Democrats will do the right thing for the sake of their country, not their party. The gamble is almost certainly the right one. Bringing the economy to the brink of panic is dangerous, but the actual risk is minimal given the Democrats are the party of governance. They would not call the Republicans' bluff.

Proof of this theory can be seen in the near-total silence of the very obscenely rich in the wake of news that the Senate Republicans had voted against the full faith and credit of the United States. Sure, there's been a few gentle reminders that defaulting on the national debt would be, um, subpar. But that's nothing compared to the hysterical outcry against the Democrats and their big plan to raise taxes on the very obscenely rich to pay for reshaping the government. While they have little to say about the real danger of default, they have a lot to say about higher taxes! That would hurt business! The economy! Jobs!

One takeaway is the very obscenely rich are lousy with bad faith. The government taxed them at much higher rates decades ago (at more than 90 percent during the Eisenhower administration). Yet they still managed to continue being very obscenely rich. During the same period, the economy was gangbusters. Jobs, too. The Democrats haven't yet passed their 10-year infrastructure bills, but so far, they seem unaffected by the lousy bad faith of the very obscenely rich (though the rates they are aiming for are not nearly high enough).

The other takeaway is the very obscenely rich are fully supportive of the Republican Party's efforts to sabotage the country just enough to maintain parasitic control of it. The GOP and the very obscenely rich don't want to kill off democracy. That would be bad for business. They only want to weaken it. As I said earlier this week, the party voting against America's credit is the same party "undermining the national recovery from the covid pandemic, which is the same party tolerating insurgents who nearly brought down the republic, which is the same party eroding the rule of law, which is the same party welcoming interference by Russia, which is … so on and so forth." The very obscenely rich, meanwhile, have resumed campaign donations to Republicans who voted to toss the 2020 election results. Firms like Home Depot and Walmart want the people to buy their stuff. They also want to prevent the people from flexing the sovereignty that would prevent them from continuing to extract wealth from the people.

Those of us worried about the future of democracy have pinned hope on the Democrats passing election reform. I've pointed out one reason that's not enough. We need to crack down on lawlessness, too. But all of the above is another reason reforming elections is insufficient. If we're going to fight authoritarianism creeping through the body politic, we need to do more about the very obscenely rich who are paving the way for that authoritarian creep with their money. The democratic way of doing that is with higher, much higher, taxation.

The problem is worse than it looks. The very obscenely rich are not only financing Republicans prepared to deny the sovereignty of the people. Directly and indirectly, they are enabling the bullies, thugs and terrorists trying to bring the republic down. In April, The Guardian reported a Christian fundraising site connected the Proud Boys and other violent groups to "anonymous high-dollar donors." Robert Mercer, Donald Trump's sugar daddy, backs far-right candidates and a social media network insurgents used to organize the assault on the US Capitol. Charles Koch, the industrialist, is tied to a vast propaganda network that includes VDare, a fascist organization. Virtually all organized anti-government "protests" during the covid pandemic can be traced back to the very obscenely rich. Mercer's daughter, Rebekah, has been called "one of the chief financiers of the fascist movement."

Right now, the Democrats are focused on getting two infrastructure packages through the Congress to reshape government and the US economy. Their focus is on raising taxes on the very obscenely rich just enough to pay for it. Democracy demands taking that another step. To fight fascism, we must fight the people paying for it. That means raising taxes higher, much higher, on the very obscenely rich.