COMMENTARY | Walter Mondale, former senator, former vice president, epically failed presidential candidate, and oldest of old liberals, published an op-ed in the Washington Post which shows that he has not learned from the thrashing he got in 1984.
The title of the piece says it all: “The Courage to Raise Taxes.”
While Mondale does point out that Republican presidents have raised taxes, usually as part of ill-considered compromises with Democrats, he does not prove that it is a politically viable strategy or that it tends to lower the deficit. Mondale writes:
“Elections since 1984 have demonstrated that favoring higher taxes to pay for specific priorities can be a winning political formula. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both prevailed with well-executed and honest proposals to raise taxes for concrete purposes that Americans favored.”
The problem is that both Clinton and Obama were somewhat vague about what they wanted to do. However, when each president did raise taxes, Clinton on gasoline, Obama as part of health care reform, he suffered terribly in the next midterm election. Indeed, it can be argued that George H. W. Bush lost in 1992 mainly because of his reneging on his no new taxes pledge.
Attempts to raise taxes in return for spending cuts, as Reagan did in the 1980s, have always failed because the spending cuts never materialized. Democratic Congresses simply spend the money.
Indeed, the budget was not brought into balance in the 1990s by President Clinton’s tax increases. The budget deficit became surpluses after the Gingrich revolution when some mild restraints were placed on the growth of spending, capital gains taxes were lowered, and the dot com bubble brought in more revenues.
The deficit, high during the presidency of George W. Bush, has exploded to hitherto unimaginable levels under President Obama. Obama recognized that raising taxes in a sick economy would be counterproductive, so he agreed to extend President Bush’s tax cuts.
Only a budget, such as presented by Rep. Paul Ryan and voted on in the House, that reforms entitlements and rationalizes the tax code will address the current deficit problem. Mondale, by disdaining that approach and calling for more taxes, shows why he was part of the problem during his long political career. Americans recognized that fact, which is why Mondale lost 49 states in 1984 in one of the greatest landslides in American history. Thus will be the fate of all tax raisers.
Source: As in 1984, we need the courage to raise taxes, Walter Mondale, Washington Post, April 17, 2011