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Joe Biden Wants to Raise Taxes. Here Is How the GOP Should Respond

U.S. President Joe Biden. Image: Creative Commons.
U.S. President Joe Biden.

Joe Biden to Raise Taxes? – When President George H.W. Bush looked upon an audience of supporters heading into the 1992 Presidential Campaign, he ordered them to “Read my lips: no new taxes.” 

That statement was met with ebullient applause from the crowd assembled. Not long thereafter, however, Bush decided to raise taxes in order to balance the budget that he rightly feared risked taking the country into excessive debt. Yet, once Bush did engage in tax increases, he was thrown out of office—despite the fact that he had won Desert Storm and had helped to end the Cold War. 

Joe Biden to Raise Taxes

President Joe Biden is today calling for a tax increase on Americans earning $400,000 a year to help pay for the popular Medicare program that is set to go insolvent by the end of the decade. Whereas George H.W. Bush lost because he had dispossessed his conservative base by promising to not raise taxes and then reverse course, Biden is galvanizing his Left-wing base with similar calls. 

The fact is, the only logical way to fund the welfare state that most Americans prefer (despite what the media says) is to either cut those programs or to fund them via higher taxes. Still, the question of fairness is rightly asked: why should higher-income earners be asked to pay more in taxes? 

Of course, once that question is asked, and someone like Biden says it’s only the wealthy who will be made to pay (most Americans do not consider themselves wealthy), people shrug and say, “deal with it!” This has always been how the Democrats were able to usually get away with their calls for uneven taxation at the top. Biden understands this which is why he’s making calls to raise taxes on people earning $400,000 or more per year.

Yet, it behooves Republicans to assess whether their commitment to permanent low taxes for the top income earners is a politically viable strategy—especially when very popular social programs are on the line. Biden has deftly married his calls for increased taxation with the cause of the Middle-Class by seeking greater financial support for Medicare. How will Republicans respond?

The absolute wrong reply will be for Republicans to dutifully take to the podium over the next year and honestly outline why these programs need to be defunded or seriously curtailed. That will only give the Democrats precisely what they wanted. 

Tax the Really Rich, and Leave Everyone Else Alone!

A better plan would be for the Republicans to argue that they are open to a tax increase in order to fund these popular programs. Although, that tax increase will not be for those earning $400,000 per year. Instead, it will be visited upon the leisure class which does little to earn its money. The Republicans should argue for a significant marginal tax increase for those earning $5 million or more a year. 

What few Republicans want to acknowledge is that the country’s political attitudes have shifted more to the Left. In fact, as my colleague F.H. Buckley showed in his 2018 book The Republican Workers’ Party, the dominant political paradigm is one of traditional cultural views married to more Liberal economic stances. 

It’s the sweet spot in American politics, according to Buckley. 

Few Republicans tend to hit that sweet spot, however. In 2016, Donald J. Trump was the only one who did it effectively. He was so effective at it, in fact, that former Vice-President Dick Cheney derided Trump as sounding “like a Liberal Democrat” during that election. 

But that was why Trump won—and why he has such a fanatical base of support.

Biden Gets Class Warfare

Biden has accurately identified that Left-leaning economic stances are popular, which is why he’s coming out as the loudest defender of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—even if it means calling for tax increases. The Republicans are the rigidly anti-tax party. That hasn’t really helped them since the Reagan Administration. 

Americans want programs like Medicare, and they don’t want to see it go insolvent because the rich were perceived as not paying into it adequately. So, if they don’t have to pay for these programs with higher taxes but their wealthier neighbors do, most Americans are fine with tax increases.

Biden is now playing the role of economic populist. This is going to hurt the Republican Party, as they sound like a surly accountant telling his client to spend less and save more—no one likes that, least of all voters who are struggling to make ends meet on a good day in post-COVID America. 

Republicans caught lightning in a bottle in the 1980 presidential election with their low tax policies. Sadly, it is unlikely to happen again now that the country has shifted its political outlook to a more Left-leaning one. It will be interesting to see if Biden can effectively call for tax increases to save a popular program without shedding support. I suspect he won’t lose support for this move.

Republicans Keep Falling for Biden’s Traps

If Republicans fall for Biden’s trap in opposing Biden’s calls for a tax increase on those earning $400,000 without offering a plan of their own (not some watered-down “conservative case” article) by calling for massive tax increases on those earning $5 million or more to save Medicare, they will lose in 2024. 

This is why Trump’s calls to save Social Security are so interesting. Everyone paying attention cannot help but to wonder how the forty-fifth president would pay for the preservation—even expansion of—Social Security without raising taxes. Robert Kelly raised this prospect in a recent article he penned. In his words, Donald Trump was the first Republican president to accept the welfare state as part of the American experience. Trump would have to first raise taxes at least on the wealthiest Americans, as his adviser, Steve Bannon, had prompted him to do in 2017. 

Americans Want a Welfare State

One way or the other, the American people want their government to provide a basic social safety net for them. Trying to convince them otherwise will result in a defeat at the polls. Joe Biden and the Democrats understand this which is why they are unapologetically calling for increased taxes to pay for these programs. 

Do the Republicans? Does Trump, or is it all for show? 

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Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who serves as a Senior Editor for Weichert is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as a contributing editor at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower(Republic Book Publishers), The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (March 28), and Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.

Written By

Brandon J. Weichert is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who recently became a writer for Weichert is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as a contributing editor at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy (March 28), and Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life (May 16). Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.