honesty not corruption
Why are Democrats struggling to implement a hugely popular tax hike?
The answer from some frustrated progressives is that centrist Democrats like Munchkin have been bought out by the wealthy and their lobbyists. And money matters in politics. But campaign donations are a partial explanation at best.
It’s worth remembering that left-leaning Democrats today are often better funded than moderates, thanks to a larger network of progressive donors. Just look at the fundraising success of Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both in favor of a bigger tax hike than Biden. If Arizona’s Manchin and Kirsten Cinemas – Senate Democrats most skeptical of tax hikes – adopted Biden’s agenda, they would have no trouble raising funds.
A more plausible explanation than campaign donations, argues Substack’s Matthew Yglesias, is that Manchin and cinema faithfully favor lower taxes on the wealthy than Biden. Manchin, in particular, often seeks high-profile ways to indicate that he is not as liberal as most Democrats. For most of his career, skepticism about high-end tax hikes has been an obvious way to do so. He and Sinima are where most Democrats were only a few decades ago – part of what economist and Times Opinion columnist Paul Krugman, calls the corporate wing of the party.
Yeglesias puts it this way: “Cinema is not blocking popular progressive ideas because it is getting corporate money; She’s getting corporate money because she’s blocking popular progressive ideas, and businesses want her key ally to succeed and prosper. “
win more votes
In 2021, the corporate wing of the Democratic Party has shrunk so much that it represents only a small fraction of the party’s elected officials in Washington. Arguably, the group doesn’t include a handful of House members like Munchkin, Cinema and Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey. But you don’t have to be big to be decisive. The Democrats’ current gap in Congress is so small that the party almost cannot pass legislation without consensus.
If Democrats want to impose more tax increases on the wealthy — and help pay for the expansion of Pre-K, college, health care, paid vacation, clean energy programs and more — the path to doing so is straightforward: to the party. Need to win more elections than last year.
It’s not easy, of course. In many conservative and liberal parts of the country, most voters agree with the Democratic Party’s calls for high-end tax increases, but there are enough other disagreements with the party that they still often vote Republican. And elected Republicans remain almost unanimous in favor of historically low taxes on the wealthy.