SINGAPORE (Feb 11): If you wait long enough, every past fad makes a comeback. And so it is with taxing the rich, an idea that has a long history of ups and downs in the US, but has for many decades been anathema to politicians eager to avoid accusations of “class warfare”.

Yet, it has popped up again. Seizing on a broader discussion about income inequality, prominent liberals such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Elizabeth Warren have proposed eye-popping increases in the top marginal tax rate. The elites gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos denounced the idea, naturally, but among the hoi polloi, there was a willingness to contemplate a notion that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

If history is any guide, proponents of confiscatory taxes probably face an uphill battle: Over the course of the nation’s history, flare-ups of rising inequality have sparked calls for such taxes and ignited furious fights. In the past, as now, opponents have denounced levies targeting the rich as inimical to the US’ entrepreneurial spirit; advocates have argued that they are necessary to level the economic playing field, given that the wealthy have far greater resources for avoiding taxation.

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