New Yorkers may have missed it in the holiday rush, but the New York Times recently came up with yet another new tax increase that it officially supports. This one is what the Times describes as "a 1% charge on private insurance premiums," a charge the Times describes as a "reasonable" way to pay for investments in health care technology.
At this point, the New York Times editorial page backing higher taxes is a kind of constant background hum. This is, by our count, at least the seventh — the seventh — tax increase the Times has plumped for in the past four years. As we pointed out in our May 29, 2007, editorial, "Taxes of the Times," the newspaper also backs "a new 4 percent tax on income above $200,000 a year for married couples and above $100,000 for single taxpayers."
The Times backs an increase in the payroll tax of 0.2 percentage points for earners below the $97,500 level and of "3 to 4 percent on wages above the base." It backs an increase of $2 a pack in the tax on cigarettes sold in Nassau County and a new five-cent a bottle tax on "water, iced tea, sports drinks and juice" sold in New York State. It backs restoring the death tax, which is scheduled to expire in 2010, to a 45% level on estates of more than $2 million. It backs tax increases on fees charged by hedge funds and private equity mangers.
All of which is both illuminating not only for what it says about The New York Times, but about the modern American left for which the Times is the chief spokesman. For them tax increases are the solution of first resort to nearly every policy challenge. If 2008 brings a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress, there will be no one in Washington to rein in the Democrats' reflexive tax-and-spend instincts.
Mrs. Clinton is already campaigning in Iowa debates, vowing, "I want to restore the tax rates we had in the 90s. That means raising taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals." As President Bush famously warned voters about Senator Kerry in 2004, "When you hear a politician say he's going to raise taxes, that's generally a promise they keep."
For all the excitement about the potential independent candidacy of Mayor Bloomberg and for all the elements of centrism in the campaigns of many of the leading presidential contenders, from Governor Huckabee, Mayor Giuliani, Senator McCain, and Governor Romney among the Republicans to Senators Clinton and Obama among the Democrats, there is a big difference between the Republican and Democratic parties in this election season. It is that the Republicans are debating tax cuts, while the Democrats are debating — practically salivating over — tax increases.