Vice President Joe Biden has regularly caused uproars with his off-the-cuff remarks and serial gaffs. However, his most interesting remarks are not gaffs but clear statements of his views on some subjects. This is particularly evident on issues of taxes. Biden has called previously for the redistribution of wealth and called higher taxes an act of patriotism. For many, he epitomizes the image of a tax-based liberal and this week he seems intent of ratcheting up that image. At a Black History Month event at his official residence, Biden called for a new “emancipation:” freeing money from the rich.
Biden told the group that “A lot of wealthy white and black people aren’t bad but they control 1 percent of the economy and this cannot stand . . . It’s not fair because the business experts are saying that concentration of wealth is stunting growth. So let’s do something that’s worthy of emancipation.”
Freeing the wealth of some of their money, Biden suggests, would help them as individuals: “What happened is not only did we move toward freeing black Americans but also the conscience of white Americans.”
Biden’s continued commitment to the idea of redistribution of wealth stands in contrast to the White House talking points. Many have argued that the White House is committed to redistribution through higher taxes. However, the White House has been careful to justify tax increases on specific program support. There is a conceptual difference (even if not much of a practical difference) in higher taxes for social welfare programs and higher taxes to redistribute wealth. The goal in the first case is improving the social net while the goal in the latter case is to achieve greater wealth equity.
The United States has never embraced the notion of wealth distribution as a primary goal, or even a secondary goal, of tax policy. Moreover, top earners probably disagree that they are in need of moral rehabilitation through taxation. The top one percent of earners in this country already pay a high percentage of taxes collected by the state and federal governments (though some question the fairness of this comparison). Many of us are concerned about the growing wealth disparity in this country and the world, including myself. I have written regularly about the widening gap. However, I am also leery of politicians who start to speak of taxes to redistribute wealth — particularly as a form of moral improvement.
Source: USA Today