To understand how absolutely absurd the debate is over taxes in the U.S., you just have to cast an eye across the Atlantic to France. The right wing in France supports tax rates higher than the left wing in the U.S. Yes, really.
At first, you read this decision:
France’s Constitutional Council on Saturday struck down the Socialist government’s plan to impose a 75 percent marginal income tax rate on the wealthy, a measure that figured prominently among the campaign promises of President Francois Hollande and that had become a divisive emblem of his approach to cutting the budget deficit.
Too bad, but remember that:
Mr. Hollande introduced the tax during his presidential campaign — a sharp break from his center-right rival, Nicolas Sarkozy, who had established a tax ceiling of 50 percent of earnings — to prove his leftist credentials in the face of a challenge from a candidate supported by the Communists, Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Among the opposition on the right, politicians said the 75 percent rate was tantamount to theft, calling it “confiscatory” and insisting that it would drive investors and entrepreneurs out of the country. There have been reports and rumors of as many as 5,000 wealthy French citizens moving out of the country, though there are no official figures. [emphasis added]
So, where does that leave France?
In France, without the 75 percent tax rate, the highest income tax rate will now be 45 percent…The 45 percent rate, which will apply to income above 150,000 euros, or about $198,000, is itself an increase from the previous top rate of 41 percent.
For perspective, in the U.S., the wild “left wing” proposal — that of the president — calls for the top rate to rise to 39.6, which was the top rate in the Clinton era. And that is considered to be as high as the rate should be for the richest people in the country. The French rate is 45 percent. Get it?