Publisher's note: BCN welcomes Contributor Ryan Case, who, along with BCN Contributor Austin Goss, publishes a growing journal, The Liberty Fix, already steeped in information of a growing wisdom.
While the Trump White House is full of solid and respectable conservatives, Chief Strategist Steve Bannon is not one of them. A report came out last week that Bannon was pushing for the "top tax bracket to have a 4 in front of it." This is not necessarily surprising coming from Bannon, whose previous comments on economic matters have revealed a deep animus towards the free market, and instead a preference for blowout deficit spending, negative interest rates, and protectionism. Still, it is concerning to hear these ideas coming from an adviser that carries such influence in the administration. While I'm certainly no fan of groupthink and do appreciate the idea of having "a team of rivals" within a White House, this particular proposal belongs on far-left blogs and nowhere else.
There is the common-sense argument that conservatives have always used in income tax debates: if you tax the oblivion out of job creators, they will inevitably have less resources available to expand their operations, create new jobs, and push economic growth. This hurts not only the wealthy targets of the tax increase, but lower and middle class job seekers as well. Another problem with the income tax is the detrimental effect it has on social mobility, or the ability of individuals to move up in class. A spike in the income tax rate will have relatively little impact on people who have already accumulated great wealth, as many of them don't necessarily take in a lot of income from year to year once their wealth is established. On the other hand, this same tax increase would obliterate those seeking to move up economically. Moreover, our obsession with the income tax when we seek to go after the infamous "one-percenters" is simply misguided.
The moral issue of taking 40 percent of one's earnings through government coercion must also be noted, as it denigrates both the public's attitude towards work and stands contrary to the idea that our fundamental liberties, among them private ownership rights, supersede the state and instead come from God. The motivation to start a business or move up the economic ladder is diminished when government negates much of the benefit and goes on to waste most of the money anyways. Bannon, who was a successful businessman before venturing into politics, should get this more than anybody. Unfortunately, Bannon is blinded to these economic realities because of personal experience. He frequently cites the losses his father took just prior the 2008 market crash as the basis for his "economic nationalism." In reality, however, his father's financial struggles were the result of investing mistakes, not an abundance of economic freedom or low taxes on the wealthy.
While the tax reform plan currently being peddled by the Trump administration thankfully includes a large cut, it is merely a proposal at this point and it would be best for both the Trump presidency and the American economy if Bannon was kept as far away from the policy-making process as possible. While Bannon certainly has demonstrated a gift for provocation and a willingness to exercise it during his time on both the campaign and at Breitbart, most of the concerning big government policy proposals coming from the White House have had his name all over them, including talk of a trillion dollar infrastructure spending proposal and the buffoonery about green card holders within the original travel ban order. Moreover, Bannon has constantly pushed Trump towards useless wrestling matches with uninfluential media outlets and random appeals to the "base" which consists only of about 30 percent of the public. While some call this "fighting" on the administration's part, I call it a waste of time. The more effort Trump puts towards forming concrete policy proposals and persuading members of Congress to approve them, the better off his presidency will be. If Trump is to be wise and go this direction, Steve Bannon and his 40 percent tax rate proposals are only a burden that needs removing.