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Tax Cuts for the Rich: A 40-Year Mistake

Last month, we found out something that was not especially surprising but extremely concerning. A study by economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman showed the richest 400 Americans now pay a lower effective tax rate than the bottom 50 percent of Americans. In short, the richest people in our country now face less taxation than the working class. Despite the recent calls for the rich to “pay their fair share” and the supposedly progressive taxation policy in the U.S., Trump’s 2017 tax cuts finally allowed the wealthiest people to pay the least into our society. However, the recent tax cut was just the completion of a decades-long pattern.

Tax cuts for the rich have been commonplace for around 40 years. The pattern started with President Ronald Reagan’s emphatic support for trickle-down economics. During Reagan’s tenure, he passed two tax cuts that drastically cut tax rates for the richest Americans. His popularization of tax cuts for the rich continued for decades. Although there were marginal tax increases in the 90s, they did not reverse the fortunes of the wealthy, and George W. Bush’s tax plan lowered their taxes even further. The rate of taxation for the highest bracket fell from 70 percent in 1980 to 39.6 percent during the Oba