Billionaires Are An Existential Threat to Democracy | Talking Points Memo

This article is part of TPM Cafe, TPM’s home for opinion and news analysis.

Dismay over inequality comes in a variety of flavors. For many, it’s simply about fairness — nobody “deserves” a billion dollars, that level of wealth is nothing more than a byproduct of an unfair economic system.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

So what is the remedy?

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welcome macmbr

  1. Reverse Citizens United decision.
    Money is not speech.
    Anonymous or otherwise.

What’s the cutoff? What is the threshold that have ‘too much money’ so you’re now a public enemy? Who decides?

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s solution to inequality is a familiar combination of higher taxes on corporations, increasing the capital gains tax — shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic kind of stuff.

That’s not “shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic” unless you believe that we’re doomed.

The entire op ed was a Bernie campaign speech–much complaining but zero depth and no (realistic) solutions.


Some here at TPM think Bloomberg is the answer.

Some think we cant afford nice things. It seems Democrats like to talk about Healthcare, SS, Medicare, immigration, living wages, affordable housing, education. Bring it up in a debate and suddenly we cant afford it. Every candidate except Warren and Sanders says so.
Democrats have been telling us the same story since I have been politicaly aware, they niether shit nor get off the pot.


I agree with the article, but it’s missing another big problem with billionaires that is purely economic rather than moral - they own a lot of money that does not get spent, and the purpose of dollars in a capitalist economy is to be spent. Money that is being shoveled hand over fist to wealthy individuals and corporations used to be used not only for federal programs, but to subsidize state a local services. In order to make up for those losses, towns have to raise property taxes and sales taxes. These ultimately drive people away who can afford to make choices, so we see a downward spiral in some communities from which they will never recover. In the kind of mobile society we have today, it is next to impossible for smaller towns to accurately budget even 10 or 20 years out. This is one of the reasons we live in a country rather than individual fiefdoms. Countries are supposed to help keep small, economically volatile areas more stable rather than continue sapping wealth from them.


During the times we won World War II, put rockets into space and built a solid middle class, the 3rd highest tax rate was 75% and there weren’t a ton of loopholes. We don’t have to go back to that, but it’s insane that Kochs whine about having to pay an additional 2-3%.


If you notice, though, the article explicitly says that taxing billionaires is useless. This despite the fact that taxing them is what Sanders wants to do. Somehow when Sanders proposes that it is a sign of how only he understands the threat, but when Warren does it is one line and then dismissed.

Funny that.


Not only are billionaires a threat to Democracy, they are a threat to the continued viability of Human Society as we know it. How sad that 7 billion people will needless suffer the wrath of human-caused global climate catastrophe in order to protect the ill-gotten gains of the world’s billionaires…

(Remember what Balzac said: Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.)


Plus, anyone recall when “Mr. Consistent” Bernie Sanders would rail against millionaires… until he became one?

Bernie is a cruel hack.

EDIT: Who, much like the spray tan in chief, never takes responsibility. It’s always someone else’s fault.


That a solution. It’s even a good one that would work. Unless we elect an overwhelming number of Democrats it’s a complete impossible one though. A simple bare majority wont do. Is that going to happen? If not, we have to go with what we can achieve.

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The difference is that Bernie is more than willing to raise taxes on himself. But thanks for the Republican’t talking point…


Thank You Comrade.

If you want to lose the next election in a Nixon vs. McGovern thrashing (Nixon won 49 states) you continue down this path of glorifying collectivism, where all of the animals in the barnyard are equal, some are just more equal than others.

You don’t cure the patient’s cancer by cutting off the patients head.

Billionaires are not the problem.

  1. Citizens United.
  2. The lack of Public Funding for all Federal and State elections.
  3. The decades-long destruction of the Progressive Tax System.
  4. The strangulation of Unions.
  5. The lack of a Universal Health Care System.
    These are the problems in this country.

Repeal Citizens United.
Pass a Public-Funding Bill for all Federal and State Elections.
Re-instate the Tax System of the 1950’s when the top-tax rate was 90%.
Re-instate the ability of workers to Unionize, and give them full-voting-rights seats on Corporate Boards.
Create a National Health Service with Private Insurance as employment perks/improvements (a la the UK.)

These would solve the issue, without limiting the income of anyone, by implementing Regulated Capitalism. Otherwise known as Democratic Socialism (or whatever label you want to slap on it.)

To do this, you first have to WIN SOME ELECTIONS, and you won’t do that by demonizing capitalism and extolling the virtues of “enforced collectivism” (i.e.; Communism) where the power of the State is paramount in the economy. That way lies Dictatorship and Fascism. (see the Who song: “Won’t Get Fooled Again.”)

Or in simpler terms: Grow the Fuck Up!


Actualy it talks about taxes on corporations. It is different. What we dont have is a tax on capital gains and income

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Regardless of what’s the best solution, the above line is absolutely correct.


I don’t think there is a remedy. I don’t think you can put a limit on how much money an individual can amass. But the power that wealth affords in this country is not healthy (e.g., Citizens United), and the peculiar attachment Americans have to wealth and the wealthy serves to perpetuate this power.

Perhaps the zeitgeist needs to change? Perhaps winds of change are blowing? I don’t want to see them gust in the direction of class hatred and resentment. But perhaps it’s time to listen to Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man a bit and realize we have, to a certain extent, lost the thread on those values. Television and advertising have helped in that.


Actually, all of those things are problems precisely because the billionaires, in the aftermath of Goldwater’s thrashing in the 1964 election, used their wealth to hijack and rigged the system in their favor. See, The Powell Memo


Libertarian Extremism is some ugly shit. I tend to think the billionaire class isn’t going to get the message, and instead try “grab that cash with both hands and make a stash”. I hope we can avoid Bastille Day 2.0 , but it’s not looking good.


I dont think we are talking about millionairs anymore. There are avg Joes.with that much in their 401Ks.
Even in TX I can drive around new housing construction and they start at 500K and up.

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Very true.

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