Clinton promises major wealth redistribution
Even by the standards of liberal Democrats, Hillary Clinton is running the most frankly redistributionist presidential campaign in years. She promises massive new spending initiatives and balanced budgets, achieved by raising taxes on higher-income Americans in ways that other Democrats have rejected in the recent past.
At a fundraiser in Seattle Friday night -- with her growing lead over Donald Trump, Clinton holds few actual campaign rallies -- Clinton described her spending agenda: the “biggest investment in jobs since World War II,” higher spending on prescription drugs, billions more for Obamacare, preschool, family leave, college affordability, roads, bridges, tunnels, ports, airports, a new electric grid to “distribute all the clean, renewable energy we’re going to be producing,” half a billion new solar panels, advanced manufacturing, climate change, and more.
Clinton conceded that was a lot to pay for, but argued America’s wealthy have more than enough cash to hand over to the government. Chief among them, Clinton said, is her billionaire opponent, Donald Trump, whom she promises to target after the election.
“When people ask me, so how are you going to pay for infrastructure jobs and paid family leave, I say well, I’m telling you I’m going to pay for everything,” Clinton told the fundraiser audience. “I’m not going to add a penny to the national debt. We’re going to go where the money is. We’re going to make the wealthy pay their fair share. And we’re going to finally close those corporate loopholes. And it would be a good idea to start with my opponent.”
It’s not clear whether Clinton meant there might be some specific retaliation against Trump under her administration or whether Trump would simply pay more taxes along with other wealthy Americans.
Clinton often uses the phrase “go where the money is” to describe her tax-raising proposals. (The phrase comes from a legendary 20th Century criminal, Willie Sutton, who was asked why he robbed banks and supposedly replied, “Because that’s where the money is.”)
Clinton used the phrase at three separate rallies last month, as well as over the summer when she was asked on CBS’s “60 Minutes” what the term “middle class” means to her. “Well, we say below $250,000 because here’s what we want to do,” Clinton said. “We want to go where the money is. Most of the wealth increase, the increase in income, both active and passive, has gone to the very top of the income scale.”
Of course, $250,000 per year, while more than the vast majority of American households make, is also not the “very top of the income scale.” A household bringing in that amount would be in the top 3 percent of American earners nationwide. In some areas of the country, like Secretary Clinton’s home, the New York metropolitan area, it would be in the top 5 percent. In any event, Clinton’s precise figure, $250,000, is one that has given Democrats fits in their previous efforts to raise taxes.
In 2008, candidate Barack Obama pledged to raise taxes on couples making more than $250,000 a year and individuals making more than $200,000. The idea was that in 2010, when the Bush tax cuts on all U.S. earners were set to expire, taxes on the wealthiest would go up.
Clinton doesn’t need subtlety. With the political world fixated on all things Trump, she could resurrect Willie Sutton himself, and threaten to sic him on everyday Americans, and it’s possible nobody would notice. Clinton is being blunt about her intentions because she can.
Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.