My Post-Mortem on the Presidential Election
At the time of recording this podcast the results haven’t been certified but it looks like Joe Biden will be the next US president. There are a couple of different outcomes that you need to pay attention to.
The first involves him not controlling the Senate. In order to win the Senate Democrats would have to win two seats in a runoff election on Jan 5 but pundits are saying that result is unlikely.
If Republicans control the Senate there will be a lot of obstruction for Joe Biden’s agenda. Everything that Joe Biden campaigned on is going to be effectively neutralized and he will probably have to postpone any changes until the midterms two years from now.
This means you can expect two years of relative status quo, but if the Democrats do win those Senate seats in the midterm elections or want to press his program, he will likely try to make the most of the opportunity and push through his agenda more aggressively.
If you make more than $400,000 per year, you are essentially a marked man or woman. For example, if you live in California you will have to pay a 13.3% State tax, a 39.6% Federal tax, an additional 14% additional Social Security tax for every dollar over the $400,000, and finally a 3.8% for an Obamacare surcharge.
This scenario results in 1970s style tax rates where you would be paying 70.7% in taxes. You will also have fewer ways to mitigate that tax and be unable to deduct 401(k) contributions on the margin as well.
Joe Biden has proposed considerable changes to the way 401(k) deductions are done so we are going to start to see deductions phasing out for people in the higher income levels. Joe Biden wants to be able to tax you at high marginal tax rates and doesn’t want to give you a lot of recourse in terms of mitigating that tax.
If you have significant income, your long term capital gains could become short term gains. If Joe Biden wins the Senate he will have two years to put this into law but in the process will likely upset a lot of people and potentially lose the Senate after the midterms, however this means that for the first two years you better duck and cover if you make $400,000 a year or more.
If you make less than $400,000 a year, a Joe Biden presidency is relatively good news for you. Joe Biden plans on letting the tax cuts expire for the people that make $400,000 or more but for those who make less, he plans on making the tax cuts permanent.
This could make contribution to your 401(k) a bit more complicated and for those above the $400,000 threshold they will probably want to consider some other options.
In terms of the Power of Zero paradigm, it is largely good news if you believe that Joe Biden will make the tax cuts permanent for those who make less than $400,000 per year.
We can’t afford to keep tax rates this low and have actually gone beyond the point of no return. We would have to tax 103% for every dollar made over $400,000 just to prevent the deficit from growing. This doesn’t include actually paying off the debt.
Unless you believe in Modern Monetary Theory there doesn’t seem to be any other way to solve our problems other than ultimately raising taxes on the middle class.
Joe Biden is kicking the can down the road and it’s going to compound our problems over time, but if you’re looking to take advantage of this opportunity before we come face to face with reality, this is a great opportunity to shift money to the tax-free bucket.
If Joe Biden wins over the Senate there’s going to be a lot of shock and awe in the first two years of his administration as they push through a number of pieces of legislation that will disproportionately impact people who make more than $400,000 a year. If he doesn’t win the Senate he will bide his time until the midterms to gain the seats he needs to implement this agenda.