I have said before I am voting for Hillary Clinton. I have heard many people argue that Bernie’s plans are pie in the sky and stand little chance of coming to pass if enacted. He is a terrible builder of coalitions, and faces heavy resistance to anything remotely resembling his proposals. All of that is probably true. But here is the reason why I wouldn’t be happy to vote for him: because his proposals, if enacted, would push women like myself out of the work force. It would push large numbers of professional women out of the work force who also have professional working spouses and who have children. It is already hard enough to be in that demographic and be successful in the workplace. Public policy sucks for that demographic, and you better believe I am not going to vote for anyone who makes it harder for women with children to succeed in the workplace. Under Bernie Sanders’s tax plan, I wouldn’t be able to afford child care anymore. And that makes me hate his plan, because as much as I love my children, I also love having a job. I love to work and earn my own money.
First off, anyone can look at the analysis of how they would fare under Bernie Sanders’s tax plan by looking at the fair analysis done by the Tax Foundation. You can, in fact, see a fair analysis of each candidate’s Presidential tax plans. Here is the big picture, “In an analysis released today, the Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy research organization, found that Sanders’ plan would lead to 10.56% lower after-tax income for all taxpayers, and a 17.91% lower after-tax income for the wealthiest Americans.” That is a huge tax increase.
Let me state this up front: I am not against slightly more in taxes. I am supportive of people with incomes in the top 1% paying substantially more in taxes. Right off the bat, let me just say, I think Secretary Clinton’s proposals are more in line with what I would like to see. I think that deductions should be capped at higher income levels, and I like that there is a “surcharge” for incomes over 5 million dollars in taxes. That seems entirely appropriate to me. That is placing the burden of much higher taxes at those who can most afford to pay. I am in favor of the “Buffet Rule” which is basically an AMT for incomes of $1,000,000 that would require them to pay at least 30% of their income in taxes. I would pay higher taxes under Hillary Clinton’s plan because our itemized deductions would be capped at the 28% tax rate income ($231,450 max. for joint filers). I am okay with this, because as I stated, I am not against paying slightly more in taxes.
However, under Senator Sanders’s plan, I wouldn’t be able to work anymore because my taxes are so high that I wouldn’t be able to pay for childcare for my twins. First off, I should note that we pay our nanny about $15 an hour right now, which would be the minimum wage for Bernie Sanders’s America. That is a challenge for us on our current income, but we can do it. We pay employer taxes for employing a nanny too. So we pay more than $15 an hour for child care. Under Sanders’s plan, the taxes that we pay for employing our nanny would go up 6.2% for the “income-based healthcare premium paid by employers.” So immediately, we would be paying more out of pocket for childcare (at least $1,934.40 more in employer taxes per year) . And that is before I even start talking about the way Sanders’s tax plan destroys my paycheck.
Here is the first huge way Sanders’s plan kills people in my position: if you are a couple where both spouses work and your combined income is more than $250,000, then you will be taxed the same as a single person making $250,000. In essence, there is a marriage penalty for the professional working class. This is particularly acutely felt in large metropolitan areas with high costs of living, higher state and local taxes, which happen to be where the large number of dual income professionals live (In contrast, right now, single and married filers pay differently up until married spouses earning $465,230 in income where they hit the top marginal rate; single filers hit the top marginal rate at $413,650. It is the dumbest thing ever that the highest marginal rate starts at that income level, instead of going up more for incomes at a higher level, but that is the stupidity of our current system). So for married filers who make $250,000 jointly today, you are paying that income over $250,000 at a marginal rate of 33% up to $413,000 of income. In most years, our income falls somewhere in that range. Under Sander’s plan, our income over $250,000 would be taxed a higher marginal tax rate of 39.2% in this range (as would all of our capital gains if this is what our income is, which is considerably higher than the current capital gains rate). However, even at the lower levels, our marginal tax rates go up: 35.2% for all of our income between $231,150 to $250,000 (compared to 28% now), 30.2% for income between $151,900 and $231,150 (compared to 28% or 25% now, which is the rate for income less than $151,375), 27.2% for income between $75,300 and $151,900 (compared to 25%). So at EVERY marginal level (for incomes less than $75,300 your rate will go up 2.2%), we are paying higher tax rates, which means people who make a lot less money than us are also paying higher tax rates under Sanders’s plan. In addition to the higher marginal rates, Sanders also adopts Clinton’s caps itemized deductions at $250,000 of income or 28%. So yes, overall our tax bill would be much, much higher. So high, in fact, that I don’t know if we could afford to pay our much higher childcare costs.
Sanders supporters will argue, but for the higher taxes, you get free healthcare provided by the federal government, so you are saving money. That absolutely isn’t remotely true in my case. My monthly premium costs are only $15; my employer pays the rest. My co-pays are reasonable, and unless I am paying for fertility treatments, I generally don’t spend a lot on medical care. True, David pays more because he covers the boys on his insurance, but his employer pays the full costs of his premium too. So, we aren’t getting anything more than we already get, but we sure are paying a lot more for it. Also, arguably, low-income people aren’t getting anything more than they already get too under Obamacare. Assuming states expanded Medicaid under the ACA, and the working poor take advantage of the subsidies of ACA, they already are getting free/low-cost healthcare.
Of course, if we are assuming that all of Sanders’s plans are adopted, then we have to assume also that there is free university for all of the kids of America to take advantage of. Because that will certainly reduce the funding for universities in states like mine, there may not even be a library for me to work in anyway.
So here is the net result: I am penalized for being a working spouse, I cannot afford to pay childcare for my boys, and so I have to stay at home and seethe with rage that once again the system has found away to screw working mothers over. It also means my nanny loses her job too. You cannot claim to be a feminist or care about women if this is the net result of your tax policies. And the fact that Sanders cannot realize this is the ramification of his tax plans makes me realize that his ideological purity has a blind spot when it comes to the effect that his tax plans have on women who have worked hard for their careers while also trying to have a family.
Look, I don’t doubt that there is a lot of hidden misogyny in our country. There certainly is a huge amount of hidden misogyny in Bernie Sanders’s tax plans. It penalizes two income couples. It makes it harder for professional women to pay for childcare (because no doubt, at our income level we wouldn’t be eligible for childcare subsidies). Maybe Bernie Sanders wants to go back to the days when only poor women worked, and women with spouses who have high wages must be forced to sit at home and tend the children and not compete with men for the good jobs. His tax plan certainly affects women like that. I mean, if you stay single and never have kids, maybe you won’t be worse off. I have no problem if that is someone’s choice. But that wasn’t my choice, and once again I have a male politician whose policies punish me for “trying to have it all”. You cannot have a husband (or wife), children, and a job that matters to you! No, you must choose because my tax plan forces you to do that!
So if, for whatever reason, Bernie is my party’s nominee in the fall, I not be enthusiastic about voting for him. I will diligently vote for all of the great Democrats running for state office in North Carolina and consider those my personal victories if those people are elected. I will only vote for Bernie to keep a Republican out of office and comfort myself with the reality that there is a 0% chance of his tax plan ever actually becoming a reality. It actually will be delightful to watch all of his true believers squirm when he cannot accomplish anything (and a lot less destructive than watching what Trump or Cruz will do). And that isn’t even getting to the complete fiction of what he thinks nationalized health care will cost or the fact that these proposals themselves are total fantasy. If this is his fantasy, though, I am not going to support it.