Meet the new populism,

same as the old class warfare. But not to hear Harold Meyerson tell it. Meyerson claims that the 2004 Democrats have invented a new kind of populism — “populism without heavies.” In this rendition, the Republicans grant tax breaks to the rich, but the rich aren’t bad people because, inspired by the example of Bill Clinton, they don’t want the breaks. So the only heavies are Republican politicians. Meyerson doesn’t explain why these politicians are granting tax breaks that not even the rich want. Let’s call the Clinton/Meyerson incarnation “populism with coherence.”
The more basic fallacy of the Clinton riff, of course, is the same one that has plagued Democratic class warfare for decades. Tax cuts don’t just help the rich; they directly benefit middle class tax payers and indirectly benefit everyone by leading to economic growth. This was true of the Kennedy tax cut and the Reagan tax cut, and now (to the dismay of the Democrats) it is true of the Bush tax cut. So the only real twist in the Clinton riff is his narcissistic conceit that, like everything else under the sun, the tax cut is about him.
HINDROCKET adds: I can’t resist noting that, notwithstanding the apparent mystery of why a tax cut would be popular when even rich people don’t want it, I have yet to hear of a single rich liberal–not Bill Clinton, or John Kerry, or Al Gore, or Michael Moore–who has taken the obvious step of returning his tax cut to the IRS. The IRS does, after all, take donations. But talk is one thing; money is something else. And no one appreciates money like a liberal.


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