Now that Republicans are in charge of Congress and the economy is far more stable than it has been, President Obama thinks it's time for Wall Street to pony up.
Obama's State of the Union, you see, will call for $320 billion of new taxes on rentiers, their heirs, and the big banks to pay for $175 billion of tax credits that will reward work. In other words, it's fighting a two-front war against a Piketty-style oligarchy where today's hedge funders beget tomorrow's trust funders. First, it's trying to slow the seemingly endless accumulation of wealth among the top 1, and really the top 0.1, no actually the top 0.001, percent by raising capital gains taxes on them while they're living and raising them on their heirs when they're dead. And second, it's trying to help the middle help itself by subsidizing work, child care, and education.
Not noted but equally important: It's a popular proposal among Republican and Democratic voters, especially those who resent Wall Street not having to pay any price for nearly destroying the economy six short years ago.
Right wingers are predictably up in arms about it. Jon Podhoretz even went so far as to call Obama a troll for daring to propose it. In Republican-land, Democrats are simply supposed to follow along like good boys and girls while Republican lawmakers kowtow to Wall Street, oil companies, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
It's actually good politics. Some aspects of what Obama is proposing have been endorsed by Republicans already. Rep. Dave Camp agrees with the proposal to tax banks with liabilities over a certain amount in order to pressure them into breaking into smaller pieces.
The proposed increase in the capital gains tax would just roll it back to the Reagan era. Since Saint Ronnie is the Saint that he is, you'd think every Republican would jump at the chance to endorse his peculiar flavor of reforms, right?
At the very least, Congressional Republicans will have to go on the record as opposing nominal tax increases on Wall Street banks and the wealthiest of the wealthy in this country. That doesn't really play well with their current field of primary contenders' claim that it's Republicans who care about people in poverty, now does it?