Harry Reid swipes at Ocasio-Cortez tax hike proposal, saying Americans won't accept 'radical change quickly'

Former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took a swipe at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s radical 70 percent top tax rate proposal, saying quick “radical change” doesn’t work in America.

Reid, who retired in 2017 after nearly five decades in politics, warned the Democratic Socialist that a sudden radical policy unlikely to sit well with the American public who are “very conservative” and oppose sudden change.

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“A person could say we need to raise taxes a little bit,” Reid told the Nevada Independent. “Again, when you talk about 70 percent and all that, we have to be careful because the American people are very conservative in the sense of not wanting radical change quickly. It just doesn’t work.”

“I think the message has to be we’re a country that is good, that’s always been good,” he continued. “We’re not talking about make America great again; we’re great now. And I think what we have to do is make sure we do a better job.”

"A person could say we need to raise taxes a little bit. Again, when you talk about 70 percent and all that, we have to be careful because the American people are very conservative in the sense of not wanting radical change quickly. It just doesn’t work."

— Former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Earlier this month, Ocasio-Cortez suggested funding her proposed “Green New Deal” by the marginal tax rate of 70 percent on those making $10 million or more.

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“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,” she said on CBS’s “60 Minutes.

Reid didn’t directly mention Ocasio-Cortez by name, but his reference to the suggested 70 percent tax rate makes him one of the few prominent Democrats voicing their critique against the proposal while others lawmakers, including the supposed 2020 candidates, are embracing it.

California Sen. Kamala Harris, a likely 2020 contender, called the Ocasio-Cortez proposed tax hike “fantastic” and praised her for “challenging the status quo” during an appearance on ABC's “The View.”

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“I think she is introducing bold ideas that should be discussed,” Harris said. “And I think it’s good for the party. I frankly think it’s good for the country.”

Former Obama administration official Julian Castro, who announced his presidential run on Saturday, went even further than the congresswoman, citing a 90 percent tax rate on the wealthiest people in the past.

“Oh, I can support folks at the top paying their fair share,” Castro told ABC News' “This Week” earlier this month after being asked whether he supports Ocasio-Cortez’ proposal.

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“There was a time in this country where the top marginal tax rate was over 90 percent,” Mr. Castro said in praising Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s vision. “Even during Reagan’s era in the 1980s, it was around 50 percent,” he added.

Fox News' Adam Shaw contributed to this report.