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So earlier this week, new Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was interviewed on 60 Minutes. In the course of the interview, Cortez laboriously and correctly described marginal tax rates:
Once you get to the tippie-tops, on your $10 millionth dollar, sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60% or 70%. That doesn’t mean all $10 million dollars are taxed at an extremely high rate. But it means that as you climb up this ladder, you should be contributing more.
Many Republicans seized on this as “the Democrats want to take away 70% of everything you earn!” This included comments from highly placed Republicans, like Steve Scalise, who tweeted:
Republicans: Let Americans keep more of their own hard-earned money
Democrats: Take away 70% of your income and give it to leftist fantasy programs
Congressman Scalise is the House Republican Whip – the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives.
Does Scalise really not know the difference between effective and marginal tax rates? Or is telling the truth just completely alien to his value system?
And why does being either dishonest, or an ignoramus, seem to be a formula for rising high in the modern GOP?
The “kicker” panel at the bottom more and more reflects how I’m feeling, alas.
Ocasio-Cortez’s suggested 70%, by the way, is both moderate and reasonable policy.
Usually I avoid doing cartoons based in the current news cycle; I prefer to do cartoons that will last. But this one is both; it’s got a story in the current news cycle, but the underlying issues will remain relevant for years to come.
I’m pleased with how this comic came out. It’s very basic, visually, but often the very basic comic strips are the ones that look best. Looking at it now, the only thing that makes me wince is that I drew the guy’s left arm in the same pose in panels 1 and 4; I usually try to avoid that, since having them move around from panel to panel makes them look more lively.
Although it’s not important to the strip, the woman in the strip is visually based on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and that was fun; I don’t often do caricatures in my strips.
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has four panels, plus an extra fifth “kicker” panel, with much smaller artwork, below the bottom of the strip.
Two people, a man and a woman, are standing inside some sort of building, talking. He has neatly combed and blow-dried blonde hair, and is wearing a polo shirt. She has dark hair combed back into a bun, and is wearing a simple pale dress with a dark belt. He is grinning in a somewhat mocking way; she is responding seriously, arms spread a bit.
POLO: I hear liberals want to raise income taxes to 70 percent! How stupid can you guys be?
BUN: I know it sounds strange, but top tax rats of 70 percent or higher were normal until the 1980s.
A close-up of Bun, with a bit of the back of Polo’s head in the foreground. Bun is smiling and holding one palm up in an “explaining” gesture.
BUN: The 70 percent rate we’re talking about would only apply to the ultra-rich. And even the ultra-rich would pay much less than that on their first 10 million dollars of income!
Another closeup on Bun, who is still talking with her hands, and now has a serious expression.
BUN: When top tax rates were at 70 percent – or even 90 percent – the rich didn’t stop working or flee the country. Anyhow, shouldn’t billionaires start paying their fair share?
A shot of Polo and Bun. Polo is laughing. A third man, wearing a necktie, has come in and is talking to Polo while pointing at his watch. Bun is startled by what Necktie says.
POLO: Ordinary workers can’t live on 30 percent of their income! You’re stupid!
NECKTIE: Congressman, sorry to interrupt, but you’re due on Fox News in ten minutes.
Kicker panel below the bottom of the strip
Bun speaks to Polo.
BUN: I should go, too. I’m getting “do not engage” tattooed inside my eyelids.