In The Rich Don’t Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class, I sum up the incredible feats those progressives accomplished. They “soaked the rich” at tax time. They built a union movement that acted as a real check on corporate greed. They even tamed Wall Street.
But these great victories have long since faded. How can we get back on a plutocracy-busting track? We could start by revisiting those struggles of years past that came up short, those proposals that, had they become law, might have lastingly leveled down our super rich.
The Rich Don’t Always Win explores many of these proposals. Here are three.
One: Require the rich to annually disclose how much they actually pay in taxes.
Two: Leverage the power of the public purse against excessive CEO pay. Congress can’t directly set limits on corporate compensation, and yesterday’s progressives understood that. But Congress could impose limits indirectly by denying federal government contracts to firms that overpay their top executives.
Three: Cap income at America’s economic summit. In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt proposed a 100 percent tax on individual income over $25,000. That would amount to $355,000 in today’s dollars.
Our nation’s wealthiest, under this approach, would suddenly have a vested interest in enhancing the well-being of our poorest. Years ago, progressives yearned to create an America that encouraged just that sort of social solidarity. They couldn’t finish the job. We still can.