President Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress are pushing a big tax-and-spend bill right now, even after we’ve entered a recession. The so-called “Inflation Reduction Act,” which won’t do anything to reduce inflation, does include plenty of tax hikes/crackdowns, such as a huge corporate tax increase and funding for an Internal Revenue Service expansion to squeeze more money out of Americans.
They’re probably pushing this plan with political, not economic, motivations in mind, desperate for some type of legislative win ahead of the 2022 midterms. But in proposing tax increases during a recession, the Democrats are directly contradicting their own stances in the past.
Here are 3 prominent Democrats who are on the record opposing tax increases during a recession, as I first saw pointed out by GOP Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri. (A partisan/biased source, yes, but I’ve gone back and verified the quotes from all their original sources).
1. Barack Obama
In a 2009 interview with MSNBC, former President Barack Obama insisted that “the last thing you want to do is to raise taxes in the middle of a recession.”
2. Chuck Schumer
The Senate Majority Leader is throwing his full weight behind the Biden-Manchin plan. Yet Schumer has in the past explicitly criticized the notion of raising taxes during a recession.
As John Kartch notes for Americans for Tax Reform, Schumer said in 2008: “If we’re in a recession and we’re in a difficult economic time, I don’t think Sen. Obama or anyone else is going to raise any taxes. You don’t want to take money out of the economy when the economy is shrinking.”
3. Joe Manchin
Senator Joe Manchin, himself the chief architect of the Democrats’ latest plan, has repeatedly denounced the notion of hiking taxes during a period of economic decline. Again per Americans for Tax Reform, Manchin said in 2010, “I don’t think during a time of recession you mess with any of the taxes, or increase any taxes.”
The Democrats’ Hypocrisy
When you compare the words of these prominent Democrats to the party’s actions today, the hypocrisy becomes clear. What would they say in defense of themselves?
Well, Joe Manchin has, rather absurdly, argued that their legislation “does not raise taxes” and only “closes loopholes.” This argument is either remarkably ignorant or deeply disingenuous.
Manchin and company also say that their plan will increase tax revenue by more than $700 billion. Yes, $700 billion more will come into Uncle Sam’s coffers, they claim. But all without raising taxes!
Um… you can’t raise hundreds of billions in new revenue without raising taxes. That’s not how math works.
Some of what they’re doing could arguably be categorized as “closing loopholes,” but certainly not all.
The “corporate minimum tax” included that’s expected to raise $315 billion very explicitly raises taxes on corporations. It does away with the current system—where some corporations are lawfully not owing much in taxes due to intentional exemptions like those promoting investment write-offs—and implements a new flat-minimum rate of 15%.
It’s very explicitly an increase in their taxes owed, not just an increase in enforcement or crackdown on tax evasion.
This is a Tax on Workers, Too
It’s not just Big Business that’s getting hit with a tax hike. While corporate taxes are formally levied on businesses, economists agree that a big portion of the tax will be borne by workers via lower wages. Corporations also (almost always) pass new taxes onto consumers by raising their prices. When you factor this reality in, the Democrats’ legislation would, in practice, raise taxes on typical American families.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “average tax rates will increase for nearly every income category in 2023 under the bill. Taxes will rise by $16.7 billion in 2023 on Americans earning less than $200,000 a year.”
There’s No Escaping This Hypocrisy
Joe Manchin and his fellow Democrats can try their very best to spin their plan as something other than what it is. But the undeniable reality remains that the “Inflation Reduction Act” would hike Americans’ taxes during a recession.
That’s not just economically foolish. It’s something the Democratic Party has promised time and time again they wouldn’t do.