Taxes Making a Comeback

As long-time readers know, I’m a big believer in taxes. The American people are big believers in government services, but they like them to be paid for by magic. The political system thus often winds up directing policy in a weird direction — doing policy through tax subsidies and “credits” and regulatory mandates rather than simply taxing and spending. This is bad, in my view, but the people don’t seem to agree.

There are, however, two recent little glimmers of hope. One is that in Oregon a ballot measure to enact sharply progressive increases in income taxes on high earners passed. The other is that in last night’s State of the Union address the idea of a new tax on large banks was a big applause line. The President put it front and center, and many members of congress stood and cheered for it. Neither of those things fundamentally gets us to where I want us to be, but they’re both steps in the right direction.