Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez floats 70 percent tax on top earners to fund Green New Deal

Rising Democratic star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said in a new interview that she could fund her proposed "Green New Deal" in part by slapping a tax as high as 70 percent on top earners.

Ocasio-Cortez, sworn in as Congress’ youngest member on Thursday, is one of a number of Democrats who backs the Green New Deal -- which aims to combat both climate change and income inequality with a massive and costly economic overhaul. Ocasio-Cortez has called it “a wartime-level, just economic mobilization plan to get to 100% renewable energy.”

A draft text circulated around Congress lays out a framework that includes eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and agriculture and “dramatically” expanding energy sources to meet 100 percent of power demand through renewable sources.

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In an interview with Anderson Cooper to air Sunday on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Ocasio-Cortez said the huge government expansion could be paid for in part by taxpayers contributing “their fair share.” She said that, like in the 1960s, tax rates for those with incomes up to $75,000 could be as low as 10 or 15 percent, but much higher for those earning millions.

“But once you get to the tippie tops, on your ten millionth, sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 percent or 70 percent. That doesn’t mean all $10 million are taxed at an extremely high rate. But it means that as you climb up this ladder, you should be contributing more.”

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Those on the left calling for higher taxes have frequently pointed to tax rates in place before President Ronald Reagan took office, to argue they are not unprecedented. But free-market conservatives have argued there were more loopholes in the '60s and '70s, meaning most high earners didn’t actually pay those ultra-high rates.

President Trump in 2017 signed a measure that slashed taxes across the board -- a move that was opposed by most Democrats. Democrats have called for those tax cuts -- particularly the ones for the wealthy -- to be reversed, while Republicans have argued that the cuts have helped fuel economic growth.

While Ocasio-Cortez is seen as being on far left of the Democratic Party, her call for a Green New Deal is increasingly being embraced by more mainstream Democrats, including possible 2020 candidates such as Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. In the House, the activist Sunrise Movement says that it has more than 40 House members who are backing the Green New Deal, including Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Veronica Escobar, D-Texas.