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The Rich Are Taxed Enough

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  • Don't Tax the Rich It Won't Boost Economic Growth

    Clip: R. Glenn Hubbard, dean of Columbia Business School and economic advisor to the Mitt Romney campaign, makes his closing case for why the rich should not pay more in taxes. Hubbard asks how will the country be better off if the rich pay more?

  • Simpson-Bowles and the Legacy of Deficit Tax Policy

    Clip: The Intelligence Squared US debaters arguing whether the rich should pay more in taxes debate the legitimacy of the Simpson-Bowles act in framing deficit cutting tax proposals.

  • Will Raising Taxes on the Rich Really Cut the Deficit

    Clip: The Intelligence Squared US debaters arguing whether the rich should pay more in taxes debate whether a higher tax rate on America's wealthiest will have any impact on the deficit.

  • Robert Reich: Tax the Rich Fix the Debt It Makes Cents

    Clip: Robert Reich makes the case why the rich should pay more in taxes. He asserts that the richest 400 Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans put together, and according to Reich, logic dictates that you raise taxes on the

Debate Details

How do we fix the economy? The U.S. government's budget deficit is nearing a trillion dollars for the fourth straight year and unemployment remains high. With the Bush-era tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of 2012, what is the best move for continued economic recovery? President Obama says we should raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 to reduce the deficit. Others say that the richest 1% already pay more than a quarter of all federal taxes and higher taxes for job creators would slow economic growth. Are the nation's wealthiest not paying their "fair share," or should tax breaks be extended for everyone in the name of job creation?


Brought to you in partnership with the Richard Paul Richman Center for Business, Law, and Public Policy, a joint venture of Columbia Business School and Columbia Law School. The Richman Center fosters dialogue and debate on emerging policy questions where business and markets intersect with the law.

The Debaters

For the motion

Glenn Hubbard

Dean, Columbia University Business School

Glenn Hubbard is Dean of Columbia Business School and the Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics. Professor Hubbard is the author of... Read More

Arthur Laffer

Former member of President Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board, “the Father of Supply Side Economics,” and President of Laffer Associates

Arthur Laffer is the Founder and Chairman of Laffer Associates, an economic research and consulting firm, and Laffer Investments, an investment management... Read More

Against the motion

Robert Reich

Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and former Secretary of Labor

Robert Reich is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. Professor Reich was Secretary of Labor in the... Read More

Mark Zandi

Chief Economist of Moody's Analytics

As Chief Economist of Moody’s Analytics, Mark Zandi directs the company’s research and consulting activities. Zandi’s recent research has studied... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • The rich already pay their fair share. The top 1% pays nearly 40% of all collected federal income taxes. The bottom 50% pays just over 2%.
  • Taxing the rich more won't solve the deficit problem. According to the Tax Foundation, taking all the income of those making more than $10 million per year would only reduce the deficit by 12% and the debt by 2%. Taxing millionaires at 50% would reduce the deficit by 8%.
  • We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem. The U.S. government runs sustained deficits because it spends too much, not because Americans are taxed too little.
  • Tax hikes for those making $250,000 or more means hurting job creators and small businesses.
Against The Motion
  • For the top 0.1%, the average tax rate has fallen from 51% to 26% in the last 50 years. Average tax rates for the middle class has risen slightly or remained constant over the same time period.
  • The rich can afford to pay more. The after-tax income of the top 1% has risen to nearly four times what it was since 1979, while income for the middle 60% rose by just 40%. After taking inflation into account, in the past decade the real income of the average American family has fallen by about 6%.
  • Higher tax rates do not mean less growth. During his first year in office, President Clinton pushed through tax increases that led to 32 straight quarters of economic growth and a budget surplus.
  • The rich can start businesses and hire employees, but if no one can afford to buy what they have to sell, those businesses will fail and those jobs will be lost. Ordinary middle-class consumers are the real job creators.


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The Research

The Research

The White House: Taxes

December 31, 1969

The Obama administration tax policy page.

Extending High-Income Tax Cuts Is the Wrong Answer for the Recovery

Christina Romer
July 28, 2010

Some have argued that extending the high-income cuts is necessary for the economy. This is simply wrong.

The U.S. Tax System: Who Really Pays?

Stephen Moore
August 1, 2012

There is little doubt that government can redistribute wealth: taxing high-income individuals can and has increased equality. But there is little evidence to suggest that this results in increased economic mobility for the poor.

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