In Response To Neil Cavuto’s Degradation Of The Million Student March
Hey Neil, do you have a few minutes? I know it can be time consuming to continuously spread misinformation and fear as the senior vice president, managing editor and anchor on Fox News. I promise, it won’t take long. I’m sure you can take a short break from tricking Americans into voting against their own interests.
Yesterday you interviewed Keely Mullen, a major organizer for the Million Student March, which took place on over 100 college campuses. The clip was shared throughout social media, with many low-information Twitter users claiming that you confronted Mullen with “hard facts”. During the interview, you repeatedly said that we would need to raise taxes on the top 1 percent to 90 percent, and that even if it was raised to 100 percent, we still wouldn’t be able to pay for the demands of the march participants.
Okay look Cavuto, I get it. You don’t want your viewers to know that all of the demands of the Million Student March are actually achievable without bankrupting the country. We will not turn into Greece if we provided tuition-free public education for all students, established a $15 per hour minimum wage, and even forgave all outstanding student debt. This is the myth of austerity, which you of course must defend for your corporate masters, Rupert Murdoch and News Corp.
Let’s start with tuition-free public education for all students. Earlier this year, Bernie Sanders introduced the “College For All Act”, which would provide $47 billion per year to states for eliminating all tuition and fees at public colleges and universities. The bill estimates that the states would pay the remaining 33 percent, bringing the total to $70 billion per year. I’m sure this seems like an outrageous number, but we wouldn’t even have to raise the tax rate on the Top 1 percent to accomplish this. The Act which Bernie introduced would also would enact the Robin Hood Tax, a very small tax on Wall Street speculation. How small you ask?
- 0.5 percent on stock trades (50 cents for every $100 worth of stock)
- 0.1 percent fee on bonds
- 0.005 percent fee on derivatives.
See, not too painful, right? Experts estimate that this very tiny tax would raise anywhere between $177 and 354 billion dollars, and would only impact the highest-frequency traders, which have transformed the financial sector, and pose the risk of flash stock market crashes. We could easily re-establish tuition-free public education in every state, and would still have money left over to either create jobs, or even start cancelling the $1.3 trillion of outstanding student loan debt.
This isn’t a radical idea, as many major systems such as the City University of New York and University of California used to be tuition-free, before Ronald Reagan’s crusade to end free higher education.
Now, about that study which supposedly found that if we taxed 100 percent of the income of the top 1 percent of income earners, we couldn’t pay for a single “entitlement” program for 3 years. Mullen was right to be skeptical, as a recent article in the New York Times used data from a Tax Policy Institute study, and found that raising the tax rate of the 1 percent of Americans to just 40 percent would generate $157 billion and if increased it to 45 percent, would raise $276 billion in tax revenue.
In other words, if we raise the tax rate of the Top 1 percent to just 40 percent, we could abolish all student debt in 8.2 years. With a 45 percent tax rate, it would only be 4.7 years. Millions of people would be released from the burden of student debt, and our paychecks would actually go back into the economy, That’s right, Neil, the regular people outside the ideological bubble of your studio aren’t trying to hoard money or get rich. We are trying to survive in a system which has left us behind.
Of course, as a senior member of the Fox “News” team, you didn’t really have a stable argument and instead resorted to fear tactics, claiming that Mullen’s friends wouldn’t want to pay 90 percent in taxes if they were successful in earning $250,000 per year. You also claimed that the richest Americans pay over 40 percent of their incomes in taxes. A chart from the Tax Policy Institute study finds that these are both inaccurate statements:
The Top 1 percent earn an average annual income of $2.1 million with an average tax rate of 33.4 percent. A majority of the Fox News staff and a high percentage of your viewers don’t fit in this category and likely never will. What’s that? Why should the Top 1 percent pay more taxes? Let me show you a chart from a Berkeley study which you would never, ever show on your “fair and balanced” network:
As Bernie Sanders frequently mentions, 95 percent of all new income generated since the great recession has gone to the Top 1 percent. In fact, even since 1993, 68 percent of all income growth has been enjoyed by the Top 1 percent, while the real growth of the bottom 99 percent of incomes has been only 6.6 percent. So yes, Mullen is right. The Top 1 percent, who have seen their wealth increase by 86.1 percent in the past few decades, should absolutely pay more in taxes to benefit the rest of us who have experienced decades of stagnant wages. Even a 5–10 percent increase in their effective tax rate would have little impact on these high-income earners who would still be able to feed their families and sustain a comfortable standard of living.
Cavuto, don’t freak out now, because we can raise even MORE money to pay for every demand of the students who are fighting back against the economic exploitation of our generation. For some reason, you didn’t mention corporate loopholes during your interview, probably because tax avoidance is a major aspect of your puppet master, Rupert Murdoch’s business model.
The truth is, the major corporations who spend millions lobbying our members of congress also enjoy a multitude of corporate tax breaks and loopholes which cost us billions. How much you ask? Well, according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office: $180 billion.
I know that after your sad attempt at a “factual” interview with Mullen, your colleague said that the math doesn’t add up. Well, actually it does. If we closed all corporate tax loopholes, increased the tax rate for the 1 percent of top income earners to 40 percent, and used the lowest estimate of earnings from enacting the financial transaction tax, we would raise at least $514 billion annually. That could abolish all student loan debt within 2.5 years, and pay for tuition-free public college many times over.
Of course, this new tax revenue could also be used to either transition to single-payer healthcare or create millions of jobs in infrastructure, renewable energy, sustainable retrofitting, or any other number of uses to help rebuild the middle class.
Okay, I know you need to get back to your job of protecting the interests of the rich, but I am almost done, I promise. Let’s turn to the minimum wage. I know that, much like your other colleagues, you don’t agree that we should increase the minimum wage. Hey, maybe you even want to eliminate it. Well Neil, let’s take a look at the facts:
Those who earn the minimum wage are making less today after inflation than they were in 1968. Even though millions of low-wage workers are actually better educated than the late 1960s, they are making 23 percent less. As for raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, you misled your viewers into believing that this would cost taxpayers, but the costs are actually passed on to the employers of these low-wage workers. No, the costs of our goods won’t double if you double the minimum wage. According to a study by Purdue University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, raising wages to $15 per hour would only raise prices by an average of 4 percent. In other words, if you eat at a fancy restaurant and pay $100 for your meal, the cost will only rise to $104. If you buy a $5.00 Big Mac, it would cost $5.20.
In fact, we could actually save money by raising the minimum wage. According to the Economic Policy Institute, raising the minimum wage to even just $10.10 would reduce government expenditures on public benefits for low-wage workers by $7.6 billion per year, as they would no longer need food stamps and medicare to make ends meet.
In a country that spends $610 billion each year on military spending, more than the next seven countries combined, it’s ridiculous to think that the demands of yesterday’s campus mobilizations would bankrupt our country. This argument isn’t about millennials being spoiled moochers, but about changing our priorities as a nation.
Now I’m sure you are saying , “even if we could pay for all of this, these policies would cause a mass exodus of the 1 percent and corporations from the United States”. The truth is, this is already happening, and due to our globalized economy, there is always a possibility of corporations and the rich leaving America if we don’t pander to their interests. Today, we are facing the destruction of the middle class and a continuing increase in wealth and income inequality. An entire generation of young people are facing historic levels of personal debt, crippling our financial futures and preventing future economic growth. We were in the streets yesterday not due to entitlement, but because we know that our demands are reasonable. Another world is possible and we are sick and tired of watching people like you stand in the way of progress.
Originally published at www.youngprogressivevoices.com on November 13, 2015.