Raise Taxes on the Rich? Why Dems May Need to Think Bigger

Raise Taxes on the Rich? Why Dems May Need to Think Bigger


As they head into their second round of primary debates tonight, Democrats are having the wrong argument about taxes, argues Monica Prasad, a sociology professor at Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research and author of “Starving the Beast: Ronald Reagan and the Tax Cut Revolution.” In a Politico piece, Prasad writes:

“When Republicans come into office they cut taxes for everyone, although more for the wealthy, and when Democrats come into office they raise taxes on the wealthy and sometimes cut taxes for everyone else. Overall, this long-term American tax policy is to continuously cut taxes on the middle class and the poor, while intermittently asking rich people for more money. …

“One way of looking at it is that the Democrats, by consistently raising taxes on the wealthy, but cutting taxes on the middle classes, have defeated Ronald Reagan: They have ensured an American commitment to tax progressivity. But this win has come at the cost of abandoning an increasingly important argument — that someone has to pay the taxes, and that taxes are, in Oliver Wendell Holmes’ words, the price we all pay for civilization. And in that sense, since what he really wanted was ‘small government,’ Ronald Reagan and his tax cut-focused fiscal policies have won.”

Prasad argues that Democrats need to break this cycle and make the case for taxes necessary to finance government programs that can contribute to a growing 21st century economy:

“If you care about the fate of government, the thing to listen for in the Democratic debates isn’t just proposals for taxing the wealthy, it’s whether any candidate has the ability to explain how taxes benefit everyone, individually and collectively, and why government programs can be the foundation of economic growth.”

Read her full piece at Politico.