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Biden’s Middle-Class Tax Pledge

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Des Moines, Iowa, August 10, 2019. (Scott Morgan/Reuters)

Biden is pledging not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year. As I note in my Bloomberg Opinion column, Democratic proposals to increase income taxes keep getting narrower in scope. In 1993, President Bill Clinton and a Democratic Congress raised income taxes on households making more than $115,000 — about $205,000 in today’s money. In 2010, President Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress raised taxes on investment income for couples making more than $250,000. That’s about $294,000 today.

People making less than that weren’t totally shielded. During this period the Democrats also raised gas taxes, raised tobacco taxes, and imposed the individual mandate. But Congress has not legislated an increase in tax rates on wages since 1993*, and the definition of the “middle class” that is off limits for higher income taxes keeps expanding.

* Taxes rose on couples making more than $450,000 in 2013 because George W. Bush’s tax cuts expired and Democrats refused to extend them for that group.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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