Taxing the Rich – The New York Times
Sincerity, not corruption
Why are Democrats struggling to enact a hugely popular tax hike?
The response from some frustrated progressives is that centrist Democrats like Manchin have been bought off by the rich and their lobbyists. And money matters in politics. But campaign donations are at best a partial explanation.
It should be remembered that left-wing Democrats today are often better funded than moderates, thanks to a vast network of progressive donors. Just look at the fundraising success of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both of whom are in favor of bigger tax hikes than Biden. If Arizona’s Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema – the Senate Democrat most skeptical of tax increases – embraced Biden’s agenda, they would have no trouble raising funds.
A more plausible explanation for campaign donations, according to Substack’s Matthew Yglesias, is that Manchin and Sinema are genuinely in favor of lower taxes for the rich than Biden. Manchin, in particular, often looks for high-profile ways to signal that he is not as liberal as most Democrats. For much of his career, skepticism about high-end tax increases has been an obvious way to do it. He and Sinema are where most Democrats were only two decades ago – part of what Paul Krugman, an economist and Times Opinion columnist, calls the party’s business wing.
Yglesias puts it this way: “Sinema does not block popular progressive ideas because it gets the money from companies; it gets money from corporations because it blocks popular progressive ideas, and corporations want their key ally to be successful and prosperous.
Earn more votes
In 2021, the corporate wing of the Democratic Party has shrunk so much that it only represents a small portion of the party’s elected officials in Washington. Arguably, the group doesn’t include much more than Manchin, Sinema, and a handful of House members like Josh Gottheimer from New Jersey. But he doesn’t have to be big to be decisive. The current margin of Democrats in Congress is so narrow that the party cannot pass legislation without near unanimous agreement.
If Democrats are to enact bigger tax hikes on the rich – and help fund the expansion of pre-K, college, health care, paid vacation, clean energy programs and more so – the way forward is simple: the party must win more elections than last year.
It is not easy, of course. In many conservative and moderate parts of the country, most voters agree with the Democratic Party’s call for high-end tax increases, but have enough other disagreements with the party to get them to vote. still often republican. And elected Republicans remain almost unanimously in favor of historically low taxation on the rich.