Conservative Ben Stein Calls For Tax Hikes on Millionaires, Billionaires

James Zilenziger | July 11, 2011 | 5:06pm EDT
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Ben Stein (AP Photo).

( -- Ben Stein, an economist, actor, and conservative writer, said taxes should be raised on millionaires and billionaires to help reduce the federal deficit.

“I am in favor of greatly raising the taxes on very wealthy people, millionaires and billionaires. I wouldn't raise the taxes on people making $250,000 a year,” said Stein in a June 29 interview on The O’Reilly Factor, guest-hosted by Laura Ingraham.

Earlier, on June 25, Stein had told Cavuto on Business, “We've got to raise taxes. There's just no way around it. The deficit situation is so serious that while I wish we did not have to raise taxes, we just can't cut spending enough. I wish we could. We can't. We have to raise taxes.”

“Mr. Obama is going to have to do it,” said Stein.  “I don't know if the Republicans in the House will go along with it. If they don't, there will be a genuine crisis, and I am frankly frightened about it. I'm extremely concerned about it.”

In the interview with Ingraham, Stein defended his position, saying, “Look, it's a basic arithmetic thing; it's not an ideological thing. We are spending an enormous amount of money that we're not covering with tax revenue; we're borrowing it. At some point we're going to have so much debt that there's going to be a crisis and there will have to be austerity measures here just as they were in Greece.”

Congress has the right to raise taxes on the rich and the president can sign it into law, said Stein, who added that the very wealthy are “not paying enough.” He also said that one “cannot correlate low taxes with high productivity.”

Ingraham remarked that the federal budget is nearly $4 trillion and the national debt is over $14 trillion. She then asked Stein, “Do we have a spending problem? Is the spending a bigger problem than taxing the rich, yes or no?”

Stein said, “The spending is a huge problem, it depends on how you calculate it,” adding that, “We're not going to be able to eliminate Social Security, we're not going to be able -- going to be able to eliminate Medicare. We've got to do both. We've got to cut spending and raise taxes on the rich.”

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