Bloomberg: Tax the Middle Class!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 22 2011 9:43 AM

Bloomberg: Tax the Middle Class!

When Mike Bloomberg talks about Washington, we all start assuming he's up for a presidential bid. Bloomberg waded into the supercommittee failure yesterday at the same time that his adviser Kevin Sheekey was saying "Mike Bloomberg has the ability to be the best parts of Bill Clinton, Rupert Murdoch, and Bill Gates all rolled up into one." (To be fair, when Kevin Sheekey orders a sandwich, he says "turkey, cheese, Mike Bloomberg should be president, hold the mayo.") Bloomberg went on CNN to bang on, and he touched the hard-to-reach sweet spot of the Washington deficit scold.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

All the president has to do is make one simple declaratory statement and all of this will come together. And that statement is, he should say, I am going to veto any extension of any of the Bush-era tax cuts, not just those for the wealthy, but for everybody, because it's everybody's problem.
And most of the money that you need to close the deficit is in the average middle class person, not with the wealthy. The wealthy pay a very -- maybe a disproportionate percentage of their income in taxes. Some people say maybe it should be worse.
But the total amount of taxes that the wealthy pay do not go anywhere remotely toward solving the problem.
Everybody is part of the solution. Everybody gets benefits from government. And I think everybody should pay.
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Maybe Bloomberg and Sheekey are pointing to a post-mayoral role, the politician/billionnaire who calls for everybody to sacrifice -- Pete Peterson 2.0. But when Bloomberg talks about this, the punditocracy thinks of the coming lull between the GOP primary and the party conventions, when there'll be talk of a third party campaign. And, hey, the NBC/WSJ poll gives Bloomberg 13 percent support in a three-way presidential race -- Barack Obama gets a 9-point overall lead. Bloomberg makes it easier for Obama to win!

I don't buy it. National polls are fun and somewhat meaningless. A Bloomberg campaign would be fighting for electoral votes in 50 states. Where's he likely to get the most support? There are portions of the country that agree with Bloomberg's straight-talk liberalism, and portions of the country that have been ope to third party candidates. Surprise: These are the places Democrats count on to win elections. Go back and look at the 1992 map. Ross Perot ran on a program of raising taxes and cutting spending to close the deficit. Nationally, he got an average of 19 percent, but he was strongest in the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest, and in deep red plains states -- 24 percent in Washington/Oregon, 30 percent in Maine, 22 percent in Connecticut, 26 percent in Wyoming and Montana. Make the Perot candidate anti-gun and pro-gay marriage, and he's weaker in those red states while appealing to liberals in the blue states. He starts off strong in the New York metroplex, where Barack Obama has been showing unusual weakness. No, the Bloomberg flirtation is a bigger threat to Democrats than it is to the GOP.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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