The Limits of American Liberal Populism

Douthat encapsulates my thoughts on the potential success of de Blasio’s program perfectly (and lacking the vitriol that might accompany my own version).  A transformative campaign against inequality can’t start by exempting 95-98% of the wealthy*, let alone the upper middle class, from tax increases, as a threshold of 500k would.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/05/opinion/sunday/douthat-de-blasios-long-odds.html?hp&rref=opinion

This is why we need to drive down the price of housing first and foremost by building more.  The city would have more money to spend on all sorts of priorities, from early childhood education to subway expansion and the poor, working, and middle classes would all find themselves far less squeezed (and less in need of social services in the first place).

*Approximately 7.5% of New York City households earn over 200k per year, while only 0.5% earn over 500k per year.  Another 17.5% earn between 100 and 200k per year.  For reference, the top 5% of the American distribution starts somewhere around 100k.  To say that these 25% of New Yorkers aren’t all wealthy and deserve to be absolved from a tax increase designed to decrease inequality is pure pandering and unserious public policy.  New York City won’t ever rebuild it’s middle class as long as its acceptable to earn 150k per year and call yourself “middle class.”  A true Northern European social welfare state would require taxing not just this group more, but the middle class as a whole – and I don’t see any politician winning office in NYC even advocating tax increases for households earning 50k per year.

 

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