Thomas Petterfy, a Hungarian immigrant and Wall Street billionaire, has inundated our television with political ads with a simple warning: Unless we vote Republican, we will turn the United States into the depressed communist Hungary of his childhood.
In 1965, Petterfy fled Hungary for America – a country that he fantasized about since he was a boy. In 1965, about the same time I came to America, the highest marginal tax rate in this country was around 70 percent, which means that successful entrepreneurs – those like Petterfy – had to reinvest much of their wealth in the country and the community that made their success possible. That was in the heyday of America’s middle class.
Today, the highest marginal tax rate is 35 percent, and much lower if your income comes from investments, as with Petterfy and Mitt Romney. By simple math, this means that the middle class suffers a higher tax burden for the benefit of the wealthiest, or that our entire nation suffers a higher deficit. We now suffer from both.
If Petterfy wants to keep America great – the America of his childhood dream – he should fight for the tax policies of 1965. And until then, he should vote Democratic.