No, There Isn't Going to Be a Compromise on Inequality

A blog about business and economics.
Jan. 24 2014 9:22 AM

No, There Isn't Going to Be a Compromise on Inequality

464674211-obsucred-by-guests-mobile-phone-cameras-u-s-president
Same old disagreements.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Some headline writer at The New York Times bafflingly slapped "Address May Hint at Compromise on Ways to Fight Inequality" atop Jackie Calmes' State of the Union curtain-raiser. The actual text of the article is much more restrained, but it does open the door to some suggestion of a possibility of a compromose that just isn't there:

The best-known Republicans speaking out on poverty and opportunity have presidential ambitions, among them Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Influential conservative economists and columnists have spoken up as well.

While their comments suggest the two parties agree mainly on the problem, not the remedies, some Republicans and Democrats see a chance, if small, for compromises — perhaps on tax policy, education and job-training initiatives, even the federal minimum wage.

There's just no room for meaningful compromise here thanks to our old friend taxes. As you'll recall, Republicans don't want to raise them and they especially object to raising taxes on high income individuals. They want to lower taxes on high income individuals. It is true that sometimes (1999-2000) they want to do this to avoid a dangerous budget surplus while at other times (2001, 2008-10) they want to do it as economic stimulus while at yet other times (2003-7) they want to do it as a long-term growth strategy or (2011-2013) as a tax simplification strategy. But the policy ask—lower taxes, especially on rich people—doesn't change.

Advertisement

The fact that Republicans are now talking about poverty and social mobility is interesting, but the way you get compromises is that people need to change their policies. Obama certainly hasn't softened his interest in progressive taxation and Republicans haven't softened their rampant opposition.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 8:58 AM Does this Colorado Poll Show Latino Voters Bailing on the 2014 Election?
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
The Vault
Sept. 18 2014 9:57 AM "The Sun Never Sets Upon the British Empire," Explained in GIF by an Old Children's Toy
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Television
Sept. 18 2014 8:53 AM The Other Huxtable Effect Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 9:00 PM Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?