Election 2016

Bernie Sanders: Let's Return to Tax Policy of "Radical Socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower"

The rich paid a lot more money under the Republican president.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 9, 2015:- U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (Independent -Vermont) speaks at a luncheon at the National Press Club
Photo Credit: Albert H. Teich / Shutterstock.com

This week, Vermont Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sat down with CNBC's John Harwood to discuss his plan for the United States.

The interview has drawn attention from the mainstream press because it contains Sanders' most direct criticism of Hillary Clinton yet: "When you hustle money like [Clinton], you don't sit in restaurants like this," Sanders said, "You sit in restaurants where you're spending—I don't know what they spend—hundreds of dollars for dinner and so forth. That's the world that you're accustomed to, and that's the world view that you adopt. You're not worrying about a kid three blocks away from here whose mom can't afford to feed him. So yes, I think that can isolate you—that type of wealth has the potential to isolate you from the reality of the world." 

In the interview, Sanders also indicates that he'd like to see a 90 percent tax rate in the country. After he sarcastically referred to that rate existing under "radical socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower," Harwood asked him if he thought it was too high. "No. That's not 90 percent of your income, you know?" explained Sanders, "That's the marginal. I'm sure you have some really right-wing nut types, but I'm not sure that every very wealthy person feels that it's the worst thing in the world for them to pay more in taxes, to be honest with you. I think you've got a lot of millionaires saying, "You know what? I've made a whole lot of money. I don't want to see kids go hungry in America. Yeah, I'll pay my fair share."

From the end of the Second World War to 1981, Americans had a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent and above. The tax rate under Eisenhower was actually 91% and the economy grew faster than it ever has since.

Michael Arria is an associate editor at AlterNet and the author of Medium Blue: The Politics of MSNBCFollow @MichaelArria on Twitter.