Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) has been a champion of the Green New Deal — an ambitious package of economic and environmental policies. In an upcoming 60 Minutes interview, she discussed how to fund it.
“People are going to have to start paying their fair share in taxes,” she said. “That doesn’t mean all $10 million [earners] are taxed at an extremely high rate, but it means that as you climb up this ladder you should be contributing more.”
Few rookie members of Congress have put such bold ideas on the national agenda and stirred up as much controversy as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who supports a #GreenNewDeal and says, “only radicals have changed this country.” https://t.co/2EBVY5OWLh pic.twitter.com/21cRyrcG8v
— 60 Minutes (@60Minutes) January 4, 2019
The rate for the top earners Rep. Ocasio-Cortez posed was 70 percent, almost double the current highest tax bracket. But her proposal is nowhere near as radical as it sounds. In fact, taxes have been much higher before under Republican administrations.
The tax rate was 90 percent on the wealthiest Americans under Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Republican President Richard Nixon held the highest tax rate at Ocasio-Cortez’s goal of 70 percent, and used those funds to pay for, among other things, founding the Environmental Protection Agency.
While people understandably aren’t wild about paying higher taxes, the investments they allow in American society have historically been extremely popular. The original New Deal remains one of the post popular government programs in American history, and Social Security remains a cause people are more than willing to pay for.
The EPA — another similar tax investment to Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal — has largely held the public’s trust and confidence as well.
And the Green New Deal is, overall, exceedingly popular with voters. Even a majority of conservative Republicans polled supported the proposal.
Anderson Cooper, who interviewed Rep. Ocasio-Cortez for the 60 Minutes segment airing Sunday, called the Green New Deal a “radical agenda,” but in fact, looking at the history of tax rates and government programs, it is a solidly 20th century approach to 21st century problems.
“If that’s what radical means,” responded Ocasio-Cortez, “call me a radical.”
It is worth noting that President Trump, who is synonymous with his “Make America Great Again” slogan at this point, said that America was great in the years following World War II. During that time, as previously noted, President Eisenhower oversaw a 90 percent tax on top earners.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.