It’s Time for a 74% Top Tax Bracket to Save America From Our Billionaire Problem

The secret billionaires don’t want you to know is that your pay won’t change whether taxes go up or down

Thom Hartmann
7 min readFeb 5, 2021


Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

It’s time to bring back the top 74% tax bracket that Ronald Reagan blew up, so average working people’s wages can rise again and we can get our billionaire problem under control. It’ll also enable America to return to the widespread growth and prosperity America saw before Reagan took a meat-axe to our economy.

When Reagan came in the office, the tax rate paid by those in the very top tax bracket was around 70%, which is why back then the average CEO in America only paid themselves 30 times what their average employee made.

If a CEO took out more money than that, the taxes on their income were so high it wasn’t worth the effort, so the fat-cats left their money in their companies to grow their businesses, develop new products, and pay their employees a decent wage.

Today, however, CEOs average well over 300 times their average workers pay and, in some industries, CEOs make thousands or even tens of thousands of times more than their average workers. How did this happen?

In 1920, Republican Warren Harding was elected president on a platform of dropping the top tax rate from 91% to 25%, which he did. It kicked off the “Roaring 20s,” a time when working peoples’ wages actually went down, but the income and wealth of the very, very rich exploded.

Rich people had to have someplace to put all that new money, so they poured it into the stock market; when that stock market bubble burst, it dragged the entire world into the First Republican Great Depression.

In the early 1980s, Reagan set up what was essentially the same situation. When he came in the office, the top tax rate was 74%, and when he dropped it down to 25% the rich got massively richer, but working class people saw their incomes begin a 40-year slide, compared to the increases going to the top 1%.

Why would that be? Why is it that when taxes are cut average people’s wages, over time, actually go down or remain frozen, even as inflation and the cost-of-living explode all around them?



Thom Hartmann

America’s #1 progressive talk show host & NY Times bestselling author. Thom’s writings also appear at