As an unabashed advocate of freedom, capitalism and limited government, I believe the “progressive” one-upmanship going on in the Democratic presidential primary is a disturbing circus that every investor needs to be on guard against.
On the New Hampshire debate stage, both Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders sparred over who is the more progressive of the two presidential candidates.
That’s like two drunken teenagers racing cars to see which one can drive off a cliff the fastest.
For her part, Mrs. Clinton said she was a “progressive who gets things done.” I guess that means she’s a progressive in principle, but that she’ll compromise her values in order to ram a new regulation, new spending bill, or new tax down Americans’ throats.
Clinton also jabbed Sanders, calling him the “self-proclaimed gatekeeper for progressivism,” and said she doesn’t know anyone who fits his definition.
Sanders retorted by accusing his rival of having experience but poor judgment, and of being in the pocket of big Wall Street bankers. According to him, Secretary Clinton represents the establishment, and he hopes to represent ordinary Americans.
Of course, campaign rhetoric is cheap.
Given that the Democratic base wants its presidential candidates to tell them all about how much government largess they’ll receive and how much they’ll do to punish the rich and successful, it’s no wonder why both Clinton and Sanders are throwing the base the red meat.
Yet, for investors, the real facts are actually more disturbing than the rhetoric.
One look at both the Clinton and Sanders tax plans should sober up any investor gullible enough to think either represents their interest.
According to think tank the Tax Policy Foundation, both Clinton and Sanders will raise income tax rates on ordinary income, increase the tax on your estate after you die and, most perniciously, both have plans to hike tax rates on capital gains and dividends.
On the ordinary income front, Clinton plans to impose a 4% surtax on income over $5 million. Sanders would create four additional tax brackets of 37%, 43%, 48% and 52%. His plan would impose a 2.2% tax increase across all existing tax brackets.
On the estate tax, Clinton would increase the top rate to 45% while lowering the estate tax exclusion to $3.5 million. Sanders would increase the top estate tax rate to 65% while also lowering the estate tax exclusion to $3.5 million.
As for capital gains and dividends, Clinton pairs that 4% surtax on income over $5 million with a plan to hike rates on medium-term capital gains (holdings less than six years) to between 24% and 39.6%.
Meanwhile, Sanders would tax capital gains and dividends at ordinary income rates for households with incomes over $250,000.
If you’re a successful investor that relies on dividend income and/or capital gains for your livelihood, then these two progressive presidential hopefuls have painted a bullseye on your back.
And, if successful, that bullseye would stifle investment, retard economic growth and short-circuit what’s left of an already anemic economic recovery.
Consider yourself warned.