Wealth inequality is often discussed in terms of its economic effects rather than its political implications. But money is a form of power, and the wealthy exert an outsized influence on politics. Wealth taxation has the potential, therefore, not only to reduce the concentration of economic power in America, but to strengthen democracy itself.
On Monday, May 2, the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center hosted an event considering wealth taxation as a tool of democratic reform. Jeremy Bearer-Friend, associate professor of law at George Washington University Law School, and Vanessa Williamson, senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, presented their new paper, exploring and updating an underappreciated wealth tax proposal made by the American revolutionary, Thomas Paine, in his 1792 book, “Rights of Man.” Phyllis Taite, professor of law at Oklahoma City University School of Law, addressed the potential effects of wealth taxation on the racial wealth gap, and Rakeen Mabud, chief economist at the Groundwork Collaborative, discussed how taxation fits into a broader reconsideration of economic policy’s political and social purposes.
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