According to the Washington Post, the billionaires at Davos don't like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's plan to implement a 70 percent marginal tax rate for the highest earners in the country. Attendees at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland were asked about Ocasio-Cortez's proposal on Wednesday, the Post reports, and the reactions ranged from unfavorable analyses to outright laughter.
Ocasio-Cortez's proposal would not result in the government taking 70 percent of anybody's income, although some Republicans have falsely claimed otherwise. Marginal tax rates, such as the one she's putting forth, only apply to a fraction of the income that any given person earns, and Ocasio-Cortez's plan would kick in only after $10 million. This means that, were the policy implemented, somebody who earns $11 million per year would have to pay an additional $700,000 in taxes.
Nevertheless, a panel at Davos on tech and global inequality burst into laughter when Dell CEO Michael Dell was asked whether he supports Ocasio-Cortez's proposal, the Post reports.
"No, I am not supportive of that, and I don’t think it would help the growth of the U.S. economy,” Dell said, according to the Post. “Name a country where that’s worked — ever.”
According to the Post, MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson, a co-panelist, quickly replied: “The United States.”
Indeed, Ocasio-Cortez's plan is quite modest by historical standards, and much heavier taxes have already been implemented in America. Under Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, for instance, incomes above $1.7 million were taxed at 90 percent, adjusting for inflation.
However, her plan was not well-received at Davos, the World Economic Forum's annual conference for top business and political leaders. Scott Minerd, chief investment officer of Guggenheim Partners, said, "Seventy percent taxes definitely bothers me," according to the Post.
“It affects the people that have the most money, and they will start allocating capital in a way that is less efficient and will bring down productivity," Minerd said. However, he nevertheless predicted that in the 2020 presidential election, "70 percent tax rates will be on the table."
Davos is frequently attended by some of the wealthiest people alive, and the organizers at this year's forum planned to accommodate no fewer than 1,500 private jets, according to MarketWatch. It's also a regular gathering for heads of government; this year's guests included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, newly-elected Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Notable absences this year included U.S. President Donald Trump, UK Prime Minister Theresa May, and French President Emmanuel Macron. All of them skipped out on the forum to deal with domestic crises at home: Trump has been consumed with the government shutdown, May is leading her country into uncharted waters on account of the Brexit impasse, and Macron's government has been targeted by street protesters for months.
On Twiter, Ocasio-Cortez addressed the Davos panelists' reaction to her tax plan, suggesting that it was a sign that wealth inequality is gaining mainstream traction as a political issue.
"Is it getting hot in here," the Bronx congresswoman wrote while retweeting another user who referenced the Davos exchange, "or just the elevating public consciousness around rampant wealth inequality?"