On reviewing elements of President Joe Biden’s extraordinarily extensive $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, George Bernard Shaw’s famous quote stuck in my mind: “A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.” The glue that held the thought in place got even stronger when I read Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace’s summary of Biden’s Wednesday evening speech:
“And the other thing that’s pretty popular is he said, ‘You’re not going to have to pay for it. Big corporations are going to pay for it. People making more than $400,000 are going to pay for it.’ But the vast majority of people watching tonight aren’t, so offering a lot of stuff and saying you aren’t going to have to pay for it is pretty popular.”
The vast number of people named Paul should be delighted. And Peter? There aren’t enough of them to matter much.
At least politically, that is. High earners don’t draw a lot of sympathy in 2021. Still, America’s founders may have called this a classic case of persecution of a minority by a majority. At least, that’s how the plan is being sold — but not those exact words, of course. While the politics of the tax-and-spread situation is clear, the justification offered by White House economist Heather Boushey is a bit cloudy. In a Wednesday PBS NewsHour interview focused on the Biden plan, host Judy Woodruff asked about a small share of U.S. households, along with corporations, paying for Biden’s plan. Boushey responded that we need to boost American’s middle class “by making sure that those at the top are paying their fair share. We have seen over the past decade that wealth has risen, especially and particularly for those at the very, very top. We have seen a lot of companies be incredibly profitable.”