Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was dismissive of the idea that the incomes of the richest Americans should be taxed at 70 percent, despite the broad popularity of the proposal. (Photo: AFGE/Flickr/cc)

Steny Hoyer Deploys 'Republican-Lite Talking Points' to Oppose 70% Tax Rate on Ultra-Rich That Most Americans Want

The bold agenda being pushed by lawmakers like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez "is not a litany of progressive issues; it's an agenda to renew and expand the social contract by directly addressing the crises that will define American life for years to come."

Julia Conley

Despite the popularity of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D-N.Y.) proposal to raise the marginal tax rate for the wealthiest Americans to 70 percent—House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) revealed that he has no plans to serve the public interest by pushing for higher taxes for the rich.

"The tactics of insurgents like Ocasio-Cortez may irritate party leaders to no end, but the friction still serves to provide the Democratic Party an actual vision and ideology to govern through the systemic crises in our country: inequality, climate, racism, and oligarchy. They need her." —Waleed Shahid, Justice DemocratsSpeaking to the news outlet Cheddar, Hoyer scoffed and smirked when asked on Tuesday whether he would support the proposal—even as he undermined his own point, admitting that a 70 percent tax rate for the rich has in fact existed in the U.S. in the past.

Despite his stated view that "we need to get the deficit down" and "pay for our priorities and our needs," Hoyer claimed that asking Americans making more than $10 million per year—as Ocasio-Cortez proposed—"is not reasonable to attain either politically or frankly, I think, from a policy standpoint."

Justice Democrats communications director Waleed Shahid compared Hoyer's statement to "mealy-mouthed Republican-lite talking points in place of a vision of Democratic governance."


Hoyer did not elaborate on why he believes the proposal to be unfeasible—an incongruous statement for an idea that 59 percent of Americans supported in a recent poll by The Hill and HarrisX. Though critics have attempted to portray a 70 percent top marginal tax rate as "radical," even a large number of Republican respondents—45 percent—approved of the proposal, along with 71 percent of Democrats. 

Political scientist Corey Robin noted that Hoyer's comments should serve as a reminder that the Democratic Party has a ways to go in terms of pushing for bold proposals that a majority of Americans support.

Shahid added that the exchange underscores how urgently the Democratic establishment must end its attempts to dismiss and marginalize the ideas of Ocasio-Cortez—a representative who is intent on truly representing the priorities of her constituents and working families across the country.

"The tactics of insurgents like Ocasio-Cortez may irritate party leaders to no end, but the friction still serves to provide the Democratic Party an actual vision and ideology to govern through the systemic crises in our country: inequality, climate, racism, and oligarchy," wrote Shahid. "They need her."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Scientists Revive ‘Zombie’ Virus After 50,000 Years Trapped in Siberian Permafrost

Researchers documented 13 never-before-seen viruses that have been lying dormant, frozen in thick ice, over tens of thousands of years.

Common Dreams staff ·

'Cleaner Air Is Coming' as London Expands Vehicle Pollution Fee to Entire Metro Area

"Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year because of long-term exposure to air pollution, with the greatest number of deaths in outer London boroughs," noted Mayor Sadiq Khan in announcing the expansion.

Brett Wilkins ·

'Amazing News': Historic Shark Protections Approved at Global Wildlife Convention

Up to 90% of sharks targeted by the lucrative fin trade will now be protected, said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·

'The Nightmare Materializes': Far-Right Extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir to Be Israel's National Security Minister

The Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Palestinian Authority said Ben-Gvir's elevation to national security minister could have a "catastrophic impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Jake Johnson ·

Raging Wars, Soaring Hunger Put Women and Girls in Crosshairs, Warns UN

"A toxic mix of crises—conflicts, climate, skyrocketing costs, and the ripple effects of the Ukraine war—are inflicting a devastating toll on the forcibly displaced. This is being felt across the world, but women and girls are particularly suffering."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo