Millionaires: Medicare Tax Proposal Just What the Doctor Ordered
Thursday, March 16, 2023
President Joe Biden's proposal to increase taxes on Americans earning more than $400,000 a year from 3.8% to 5% in order to shore up Medicare is being welcomed by an unlikely constituency, the ultrarich.
Morris Pearl, chair of the group Patriotic Millionaires and a former managing director at BlackRock, said there is more than enough money to fund Medicare. He argued the wealthiest Americans, especially those living off of their investments, can and should be paying more.
"Our country can go two different directions," Pearl asserted. "We can ask the financially challenged people who need Medicare to sacrifice more by having less medical care, or we can ask the ultrarich to sacrifice more, by being a little bit less ultrarich."
Biden's proposal would keep Medicare solvent for at least the next 25 years, according to estimates by the Medicare Office of the Chief Actuary. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Minority Leader, has dismissed the proposal and promised it will not advance in Congress. Critics said raising taxes would hurt the economy, which depends on consumer activity. They argued people would spend less if their earnings drop.
Pearl agreed the economy depends on consumer spending, and stressed working Americans who spend most of what they bring home should be allowed to keep more of their money.
"The very rich people are not going to spend more money; they'll just become a little bit richer," Pearl contended. "Somebody like me, if my tax rates are cut, I'm not going to live any differently. I'll just see the balances in my portfolio be a little bit higher than they would otherwise."
More than 65 million people in Colorado and across the U.S. depend on Medicare coverage, but the fund's trustees warn cuts to benefits will be necessary by 2028 without increased revenues. Pearl noted the nation's economy was strong under the Republican Eisenhower administration, when the wealthiest Americans paid tax rates up to 90% on their second, third and fourth millions.
"And there's no reason why people who make a lot of money now should be paying -- not the same tax rate as people who work for a living -- but actually lower tax rates than people that work," Pearl emphasized. "We need to change the system."
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