Andew Mellon’s anti-tax crusade in the 1920s foreshadows the Koch brothers’ libertarian crusade now
The week’s New Yorker has an article “Tax Time: why we pay” by Jill Leopre. The article decries the failure of liberals to defend taxation. Here’s some history about the 1920s anti-tax efforts of Andrew Mellon and other rich people.
“The American Bankers League renamed itself the American Taxpayers League, and began sponsoring, providing literature to, and paying the expenses of state ‘tax clubs,’ whose members then testified before Congress, urging tax cuts. During Mellon’s tenure, and at his recommendation, the excess-profits tax was abolished, the estate tax was cut, capital gains were exempted from income, and the top tax rate was capped at twenty-five percent. … in 1924 the only Americans who paid more in taxes than Mellon were John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Henry Ford, and Edsel Ford. In 1929, a Senate investigation found that members of the Mellon family had helped bankroll the American Taxpayers League.
Of course, the New Deal reversed the anti-tax craze of the 20s and resulted in decades of prosperity and relative income equality. But since Reagan anti-tax ideology and propaganda have held sway, income inequality has soared, and the economy has tanked. Taxes are called “socialistic” and “The richest one percent of households now holds more than a third of the nation’s wealth, which was about where things stood in 1913.”