Revealed: Dems Support Tax Hikes on Rich Because They "Care About Economic Inequality"


Note: In the original post, I misspelled Jamelle Bouie's name.

Writing at the Washington Post's Plum Line blog, Jamelle Bouie acknowledges that Barack Obama's insistence on hiking taxes on the top 2 percent of income earners (or less) won't do anything to trim deficits or raise revenues.

He's got that right: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) guesstimates that higher taxes would pull in just $81 billion over the next couple of years while the feds will spend over $7.5 trillion.

Bouie even says that raising taxes during a shit economy is a bad idea: "It's probably better to keep the tax cuts and wait for further economic growth before ending them."

But hey, who said that taxes were supposed to fund government operations anyway? They serve a greater purpose:

If upper-income tax hikes serve a purpose, it's to slow the income gains of the wealthiest Americans, who — for the past decade — have reaped the lion's share of gains from economic growth.

If the presidential election did anything, it put inequality on the table as a national issue, and the fiscal cliff is one battle — albeit, by proxy — in a larger fight. And, unlike most issues in politics, the lines are clear — Republican disregard for inequality is matched by Democratic attempts to, however gently, apply the breaks [sic].

Read the whole thing here.

Exactly how tax hikes that are too small to raise much revenue are going to be large enough to force Rockefellers and Vanderbilts to start shopping at Walmart is beyond me.

And think about this: The income share of the top 1 percent started its upward climb in the late 1970s and rose as much under Bill Clinton's tax rates in the 1990s as it did under George W. Bush's rates in the Aughts.

So if you're looking to eat the rich, you better come up with a new cooking method. Because this one ain't gonna get the job done. But hey, the important thing is that the Dems care about the issue. Not enough to do anything to address it, but at least they care.

If they do choose to replace useless symbolism with effective policy, Blouie and the Dems should ask themselves whether inequality – as opposed to mobility – is really an issue worth caring about.

NEXT: NYC Expecting to Have Fewest Murders on Record for 2012

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. If upper-income tax hikes serve a purpose, it’s to slow the income gains of the wealthiest Americans

    Someone needs to pick up his mask.

  2. Hey, didn’t her editor tell her that they’re supposed to keep their masks on? Or have they just abandoned all efforts at keeping their credibility?

    1. Or what Randian said two minutes earlier.

    2. I mean, come on, this guy tweets shit like this:

      Jamelle Bouie ?@jbouie

      Your daily reminder: The main impediment to a more robust recovery?and the most likely cause of a 2nd recession?is the Republican Party

      There really isn’t any reason to take him seriously.

      1. It’s a “him”?

        1. Yeah, he graduated from J-School at UVA all of three whole years ago and went straight to work for The Nation. We can file him under “safely ignore”.

          1. But he’s got all those credentials!

          2. So you’re saying he’s the new Ezra Klein?

            1. Honestly, he’s got less Backpfeifengesictability than Klein.

              1. That’s a pretty low bar, buddy. But I commend your honesty.

          3. curse you UVA! my wahoo pride is smashed

          4. He’s their token, and he’s not exactly Frederick Douglass.

        2. A writer who doesn’t know the difference between “breaks” and “brakes”? Writing for a blog called the “Plum Line”? Is that an intentional pun of some sort, or do they not know it’s a “plumb line”? It looks like the Washington Post is as good at spelling as they are at economics.

            1. I’d like to think that “Blouie” is an intentional misspelling for comedic effect…

            2. I did notice that.

          1. re: “breaks”, i read that as written

            The GOP only cares about fiscal austerit

            The Dems want to hand out endless freebies (“breaks”) in exchange for votes

            works either way

  3. Comrade Bouie is fighting hard against the machinations of the Kulaks who would stop us from having our socialist workers paradise.

  4. The wooden teeth are what make it work.

  5. I thought it was because every time I hear a report about a politician not paying taxes it turns out to be a Democrat. If you don’t pay taxes you don’t worry about the tax rate

    The same applies to Hollywood types who demand higher taxes, their most creative art is their accounting where movies which rake in millions make no profit and avoid many taxes.

    1. You also don’t have to worry about tax rates when the Fed is going to print money and hand it to you anyway.

  6. “But hey, the important thing is that the Dems care about the issue”

    Results? Never.

    1. In order to have results you’d have to understand how printing new money bestows benefits only to the initial recipients of it.

      If they really cared about the poor, they’d end the Fed. They won’t so they don’t.

    2. “caring = getting idiots elected in America since … elections.”

      ive made this point to progtards before = “all this ‘caring’ has a long history of Zero results!” They dont give a shit because they dont care about the poor ; they care about their own self-esteem and satisfying their moral narcissism . some have almost said as much, verbatim. “i dont care about politics *on that level*” (i.e. the results level) They care about it on the “what Team is more ‘cool’?” level

  7. God forbid they focus on policies that would actually help those at the lower rungs grow their share of national income. Nope, better to keep them dependent and despondent, lest they start making money, paying taxes, and decide to vote for the other guy. The easiest way to “care” isn’t to lift others up towards the level they envy, but rather to sink those who have achieved the levels they envy.

  8. “So if you’re looking to eat the rich, you better come up with a new cooking method. Because this one ain’t gonna get the job done”

    Oh don’t worry, they’re just getting warmed up.

    They’ll come around to a punitive “wealth tax” sooner or later.

  9. Jamelle’s brother Bubba makes more cogent arguments.

  10. The income inequality statistics are all pre-tax/pre-transfer. So, unless you believe that tax increase discourage work and earning (which Democrats tell us they do not), then they won’t have any effecty whatsoever on those measure of income inequality that progressives keep pointing to.

    1. Most of the income inequality stats I have seen are per household, which makes it really hard to compare them over any decent time interval.

  11. If a wealthy person makes 5 million less dollars in 2013, some of that money comes to people like me. The logic is foolproof.

    The economy is a pie. If someone takes 4 slices, that’s less slice for me.

    Also, the poor never gives the wealthy any of their money by gobbling up their ipads and video game systems.

  12. John Doe comes up with an idea for a business. He mortages his house and works long hours for little pay. After a while his business becomes a success. He continues to work hard and expands his business and ends up employing a lot of people for good wages. He makes sure his business gives back to the local community by supporting charities that have a record of doing good work. He is written up in local papers as a model of how people should act.

    For this, he must be punished.

  13. Well now those guys seem to know whats going on. Wow.

  14. WHO POSTED THIS ARTICLE WITHOUT SIGNING IT? I’m looking at you, Gillespie.

  15. This post has first-person references but no byline.

  16. I support higher taxes on the wealthy, but lower taxes on everyone else. Can I smoke weed and complain about the government, or am I not invited into the clubhouse?

    1. Re: Rick Santorum,

      I support higher taxes on the wealthy, but lower taxes on everyone else.

      Why do you support higher taxes on the wealthy?

      Can I smoke weed and complain about the government, or am I not invited into the clubhouse?

      You can complain about the government anytime you want, you don’t need to smoke weed while you’re at it. I don’t when I do, for instance.

      1. Why do you support higher taxes on the wealthy?

        I believe that, in this day and age, the majority of ultra-wealthy Americans (those with millions of dollars) have probably done unethical things (including buying off politicians or getting subsidies). They ought to pay higher taxes which can then be used to fund infrastructure spending (in before ROADZ) that benefits the rest of society while putting money down on the national debt. On top of this, I’d like to see every dumbfuck Obama-supporting celebrity and SWPL pay a little extra to the government they worship.

  17. “If the presidential election did anything, it put inequality on the table as a national issue,…”

    Perhaps it did, but that does not mean “inequality” is not a stupid, meaningless issue that the government has much business getting involved in or that raising tax rayes on upper income citizens does much to address. All this goes to show is that Bouie thinks intentions matter more than results and that he is proud of that stance.

  18. Bullshit about supposed high economic mobility is a nice distraction, but why is caring about mobility morally OK but caring about inequality isn’t? So it’s OK if those at the bottom are destitute, because they have a remotely plausible shot at being in the top 1%!

    Obscene levels of economic inequality, whether the result of a pure free market or not (and of course the status quo is not a pure free market), is a problem worthy of attention all by itself. It makes for bad social outcomes and a weak economy–the average person is literally paying for the excess lavishness of the wealthiest few. And that is very plausibly the result of government giveaways, since, again, we don’t get to claim it’s a free market when it’s convenient.

    Libertarians don’t want to talk about it because all of their economic policy ideas have the direct effect of transferring even more wealth from the bottom to the top.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.