As I previously wrote, Joe Biden is a formidable candidate. His superpower? He presents as sympathetic to the working class. Biden connects with workers who aspire to economic security and even affluence. No sin there.
This makes Biden far more appealing than Bernie Sanders, who, as a "democratic" socialist, is dogmatically committed to bullying the Enemy of the Proletariat, the middle class. That said, now Mr. Biden has to tackle a tougher adversary, President Trump.
And Biden has mis-stepped, thereby developing a potentially politically fatal Achilles heel. Democrats have an odd fixation on raising taxes. In falling for it, Biden has fallen into a political trap.
Raising taxes is unpopular with voters. Dems seem oblivious to that. At the 1984 Democratic Party national convention, nominee Walter Mondale, in his acceptance speech, declaimed: "Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won't tell you. I just did." The crowd went wild.
Reporters Jeff Birnbaum and Alan Murray, in Showdown at Gucci Gulch, reported that then: "Dan Rostenkowski, standing next to the candidate in front of the cameras and the cheering crowd at the convention after the fateful speech, whispered to Mondale, 'You've got a lot of b****s, pal.' According to Rostenkowski, Mondale whispered back, 'Look at 'em, we're going to tax their a** off.'"
Mondale lost 49 states. He was buried by Reagan in the biggest electoral landslide in history.
Per Politico, Joe Biden's plan to raise a hefty $4 trillion over 10 years would fall almost entirely on the affluent. So what's wrong, politically speaking, with that? Here's what. A majority — at least an electoral college majority — of voters are more interested in getting rich, or at least affluent (on whom most of Biden's taxes would fall), than they are in taxing the rich.
There's wisdom, as well as a majority, in the crowd. President William Jefferson Clinton focused not on soaking the rich but on curating a climate of equitable prosperity. He succeeded! His success generated a tsunami of extra revenue for Uncle Sam … a hefty budget surplus.
That was just a side-effect of the general prosperity he fostered for working stiffs like me. And he handily won re-election despite his foibles.
Also, let's note that the affluent already carry most of the federal income tax burden. Per Bloomberg (the news service, not the former mayor), as of 2018, the richest 1,409 taxpayers pay more income tax than the least affluent 70 million taxpayers.
And as summarized by Jason Pye at FreedomWorks.com, the top 1% of earners pay 37.1% of personal income taxes and the top 3% pay 51%. Not too shabby!
We voters are not as stupid as many presidential aspirants seem to think. We desire prosperity, not tax hikes. Nobody I've heard of (except, weirdly enough, HUD Secretary Ben Carson) is keen to "soak the poor" by raising their taxes. But no matter how many times it is decisively shown to be a losing issue it's Democratic Party that "soaking the rich" is a political winner.
Nope. No matter whom you soak, "soaking" citizens is bad politics. So why do the Dems so bitterly cling to this outworn dogma? Just guessing, but the Democratic "intelligentsia" (I use the word advisedly) seem still stuck, like a broken record, on class warfare … as declared in The Communist Manifesto.
This holds that the middle class, which the Communist Manifesto called the bourgeoise, oppress the working class, which it called the proletariat. This antique doctrine holds that the workers of the world must unite to crush the middle class and establish a "dictatorship of the proletariat."
The specter of the doctrine of class warfare — forgotten by most rank-and-file Democrats but lingering on spectrally — is haunting the Democratic Party. OK, admittedly Joe Biden is prescribing a "kinder and gentler" class warfare than the proudly self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders does or the ferocious progressive Elizabeth Warren did.
Biden proposes merely to extract $4 trillion from the "rich," rather than, as Sir Eric Geddes once so colorfully put it in another context, have them "squeezed as a lemon is squeezed — until the pips squeak." That said, soaking — or squeezing — people in proportion to their success runs against the grain of the American Dream of achieving affluence.
If Joe Biden continues to campaign on his promise of tax hikes he likely will end up buried under a similar landslide as that which buried Jimmy Carter (who ran for reelection ridiculing Reagan's proposed tax rate cut), Walter ("tax their a** off") Mondale, Michael Dukakis, George H. W. Bush (who infamously broke his "read my lips, no new taxes" pledge) and others who rode to political oblivion on the promise to raise taxes. And it looks like he's stuck with that promise.
Ralph Benko, co-author of "The Capitalist Manifesto" and chairman and co-founder of "The Capitalist League," is the founder of The Prosperity Caucus and is an original Kemp-era member of the Supply Side revolution that propelled the Dow from 814 to its current heights and world GDP from $11T to $83T. He served as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House, has worked closely with the Congress and two cabinet agencies, and has published over a million words on politics and policy in the mainstream media, as a distinguished professional blogger, and as the author of the internationally award-winning cult classic book "The Websters' Dictionary: How to Use the Web to Transform the World." He has served as senior adviser, economics, to APIA as an advocate of the gold standard, senior counselor to the Chamber of Digital Commerce and serves as general counsel to Frax.finance, a stablecoin venture. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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