Long out of favor in the United States, the idea of taxing rich individuals and corporations to pay for healthcare or to combat inequality is gaining ground among Democratic politicians.

While the United States reveres free enterprise and is home to the world’s largest number of billionaires, such tax proposals have been gaining traction in political circles in recent weeks.

More than one Democratic contender in next year’s presidential elections are campaigning on some plan to tax the wealthy.

And they have been encouraged by famous billionaires such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, the world’s second and third wealthiest people, who worry about America’s severe wealth inequality.

Vermont’s democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders was among the first in the recent wave. During his 2016 presidential campaign he called for higher federal income taxes to pay for free college tuition and universal healthcare.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed a two-percent wealth tax starting at $50 million in earnings. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is calling for a levy on financial transactions, and Sanders says inheritances should be taxed up to 77 percent.

With the Democrats now in control of the House of Representatives, the undisputed media star of the freshman class, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is leading the charge: she has proposed a tax of 70 percent on any income over $10 million to help pay for a proposed “Green New Deal” to de-carbonize the US economy and help prevent catastrophic climate change, while offering universal healthcare and guaranteed employment.

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