Dear Commons Community,
Larry Summers, a former economic advisor to President Obama and the treasury secretary from 1999 to 2001, argued in a Washington Post op-ed on Sunday that closing tax loopholes that largely benefit the wealthy — like the capital gains exemption, certain estate tax provisions and corporate tax breaks — could help middle-class and poor Americans.
“Today’s tax code allows a far larger share of the income of the rich to escape taxation than the poor or middle class,” Summers wrote. “Closing loopholes that only the wealthy can enjoy would enable targeted tax measures such as the earned-income tax credit to raise the incomes of the poor and middle class more than dollar for dollar by incentivizing working and saving,” he continued.
Summers’ comments came as some 1-percenters such as venture capitalist Tom Perkins blasted those who would tax the super rich and compared them to Nazi persecution of the Jews in Germany. Former Mitt Romney advisor Greg Mankiw didn’t go that far in a New York Times op-ed titled “Yes, the wealthy can be deserving,” but he argued that tax-dodging corporations and billionaires aren’t the norm.
However, according to a 2013 study from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, when you consider things like sales and state and local taxes, the poor pay a larger share of their income to to the federal government than their richer counterparts.