Justin Trudeau has received a fair amount of coverage for his “new” idea to tax the rich and give the middle class a tax break while using the new tax money to help balance the budget.
However, one must keep in mind that in modern politics nothing much is new, most “new” ideas are really old ones repackaged. Trudeau’s new idea was implemented by Bill Clinton in 1993 when he raised taxes on the top two income brackets. Clinton also raised corporate taxes by 1% and put a 4.3 cent tax per gallon on transportation fuel. I wonder if Justin will suggest taxing fuel to perhaps fight climate change? Incidentally, Justin take note, in May 2014, Clinton admitted that even if taxed at 100%, you couldn’t balance the budget by taxing the rich.
In an election year, it’s all about the spin. Policies don’t have to make economic sense; they have to make political sense. Deep down it’s not about balancing the books, it’s about winning elections. Just look at the Conservative cuts to the GST tax and incoming splitting to see a couple of other examples.
One of the proponents of taxing the rich was James Carville, a senior Clinton advisor. He was even brought in by the Liberals to help teach campaign strategy and tactics in the 1990s. Carville is a bright guy and a great political attack dog. I recall using some of his suggestions to help create our Conservative rapid response team, (as did the Liberals) which in its day was very formidable and never slept. It was in action 24/7, 365 days of the year. At one time I even made some of Carville’s books compulsory reading for my team members. I recall reading his book “We’re Right, They’re Wrong”and making notations in the margins on similarity to the strategy, tactics and talk points used by the Liberals on Stockwell Day in the 2000 election campaign.
When Trudeau first stood up in Question Period as the newly minted leader of the Liberals, his questions on the middle class sounded a little familiar. Sure enough this is some of the latest Carville strategy in “It’s the Middle Class Stupid!” and the idea of taxing the rich and using class warfare to win elections appears in the introduction to the book.
Of course it could just be coincidence, although I really don’t believe in coincidence in politics. There is always a political reason for everything- IE winning votes.
One of the reasons you should never drink too much of your own political Kool-Aid is that the other side sometimes comes up with pretty good ideas. If I was still working there my team would be going over his material and other Democratic pundits to check for our vulnerabilities and to get a heads up on potential incoming Liberal attacks. Researchers for the NDP and the Green Party might find a few worthwhile ideas for attacking the Conservatives as well.
Take an old idea like tax the rich, wrap it up in shiny new paper and put a big Liberal red bow on it and make it sound new. It worked for Bill, it could work for Justin.
Or will it? The support Clinton won in 1993 when he introduced the new tax was short lived. The Democrats were crushed in 1994 when the Republicans took control of both the House and Senate in that year’s election.