I will give this idea a more generous read than Will Wilkinson did and assume that Brian Leiter just wants to know why Kennedy-era marginal tax rates should be a nuclear bomb radioactive idea. A seventy five percent top rate on the top point one percent of earners would drastically reduce pressure to enact policies that make life hell for the bottom ninety percent. Since the bottom ninety percent constitutes about ninety percent of the voters, we have what an imagine-a-spherical-cow macroeconomist might call an odd disequilibrium between voters’ interests and their behavior.
I would suggest that it costs a lot less than seventy five percent of the point one percenters’ top-marginal-rate income to buy all the influence they need to keep this stuff under control. Somebody owns the conglomerates that own the media, after all. Compared with those Kennedy tax rates the price (to shareholders) of subsidizing a cushy job on K street, a paid sinecure at some free market think tank or a lifetime of paid speaking gigs for pliant politicos barely justifies a line item on the budget.