How Dems learned to stop worrying (mostly) and embrace tax hikes
5 min read
Democrats believe raising taxes is no longer a noxious political proposition, thanks to shifting attitudes about soaking the rich.
The public has "seen billionaires get richer, corporations get richer during the pandemic, while they're suffering," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "So I think that's what we have to continue to lean into."

Leaning in so sharply isn't easy, and angst is rising as some Democrats press for a more aggressive message that can cut through GOP attack ads and protect their most vulnerable members next November. Those House Democrats aren't exaggerating the stakes of the moment. With just a handful of seats keeping Democrats in the majority and the GOP once again eager to weaponize cries of "socialism" on the trail, the party's $4 trillion-plus infrastructure package is inextricably linked to its midterm fate.

"Open borders, higher taxes, deficit spending. ... If we're not careful, we're giving them all the narratives to campaign against us," said swing-district Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas). Even so, he backed the overall approach to taxation: "I agree that everybody needs to pay their fair share."

Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas). | Alex Brandon/AP Photo

Lobbyists and executives are bullish on their chances of peeling off enough moderate Democrats to quash Biden's proposed hikes. But the key to success, some Democrats say, will be going on the offensive about their tax plans while hammering home that years of GOP policies — specifically, the 2017 tax cuts that largely benefited the rich — are to blame for many Americans feeling neglected in the virus-stricken economy.

People "get it," said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.). "They definitely understand the equity argument. It comes up all the time."

There's already some evidence that Democrats can prevail by being blunt about tax burdens designed to fall on the wealthy, according to John Anzalone, a top pollster for the Biden campaign in 2020. Anzalone said Biden forcefully countered Trump's false claims on Democrats' plans to raise taxes, changing his focus to those making…
Sarah Ferris
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