06 Nov 2007

Peggy Noonan on Hillary

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Peggy Noonan rightly identifies the skepticism of ordinary Americans as a key obstacle to Hillary’s 2008 ambitions.

For a few years now I’ve thought the problem for the Democrats in general but for Mrs. Clinton in particular is not that America is against tax increases. They’ve seen eight years of big spending, of wars, of spiraling entitlements. They’ve driven by the mansions of the megarich and have no sympathy for hedge fund/movie producer/cosmetics empire heirs. They sense the system is rigged toward the heavily protected. They sense this because they’re not stupid.

The problem for Mrs. Clinton is not that people sense she will raise taxes. It’s that they don’t think she’ll raise them on the real and truly rich. The rich are her friends. They contribute to her, dine with her, have access to her. They have an army of accountants. They’re protected even from her.

But she can stick it to others, and in the way of modern liberalism for roughly half a century now, one suspects she’ll define affluence down. That she would hike taxes on people who make $150,000 a year.

But those “rich” — people who make $200,000 and have two kids and a mortgage and pay local and state taxes in, say, New Jersey — they don’t see themselves as rich. Because they’re not. They’re already carrying too much of the freight.

Followup: The Financial Times observes the even the democrats have begun to recognize the truth. Though democrats love class warfare, they’re really shooting at themselves.

A legislative proposal that was once on the fast track is suddenly dead. The Senate will not consider a plan to extract billions in extra taxes from megamillionaire hedge fund managers.

The decision by Senate majority leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat, surprised many Washington insiders, who saw the plan as appealing to the spirit of class warfare that infuses the Democratic party. Liberal disappointment in Mr Reid was palpable at media outlets such as USA Today, where an editorial chastised: “The Democrats, who control Congress and claim to represent the middle and lower classes, ought to be embarrassed.”

Far from embarrassing, this episode may reflect a dawning Democratic awareness of whom they really represent. For the demographic reality is that, in America, the Democratic party is the new “party of the rich”. More and more Democrats represent areas with a high concentration of wealthy households. Using Internal Revenue Service data, the Heritage Foundation identified two categories of taxpayers – single filers with incomes of more than $100,000 and married filers with incomes of more than $200,000 – and combined them to discern where the wealthiest Americans live and who represents them.

Democrats now control the majority of the nation’s wealthiest congressional jurisdictions. More than half of the wealthiest households are concentrated in the 18 states where Democrats control both Senate seats.

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Jerry in Detroit

Everyone is familiar with the idea that businesses pay no taxes. Business taxes are passed on through the cost of the product or service. The rich are typically the senior management of American industry. They have the ability to pass along any tax increases directed at them. When the Democrats talk about taxing the rich, they are taxing you and me.



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