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].
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.