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EDITORIAL: Biden won’t raise taxes on the middle class? Sure

Joe Biden hasn’t said a whole lot during this presidential campaign, but he does claim that any tax increases he imposes will target only the wealthy. “Nobody making under 400,000 bucks would have their taxes raised, period, bingo,” he told CNBC in May. It’s been one of his recurring themes.

Problem is, the numbers just don’t compute.

It’s standard fare, of course, for a Democratic candidate to demand that “the rich” pay their “fair share” — whatever that is. As George Bernard Shaw so succinctly put it, a government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on Paul’s support. But how does Mr. Biden expect to exempt the middle class from his taxapalooza when the money he hopes to get from the wealthy isn’t nearly enough to pay for his ambitious spending agenda?

A handful of organizations — including the left-leaning Brookings Institute and the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute — agree that Mr. Biden’s tax proposals would transfer $3.5 trillion to $4 trillion from the private sector to the federal government over 10 years. Meanwhile, Mr. Biden seeks to spend $11 trillion over that same period to expand the scope of the Washington bureaucracy.

The former vice president has made a host of expensive promises. They include spending $1.4 trillion to expand Obamacare, $300 billion to lower the Medicare eligibility age, $1.5 trillion for free college and preschool, $2 trillion on a watered-down Green New Deal, $1 trillion to shore up Social Security and $550 billion on family leave. And there’s much, much more.

To cover the gap between his new tax grabs and his wish list, Mr. Biden also proposes higher corporate taxes, a boost in capital gains levies and the massive expansion of the payroll tax on high earners, further eroding the notion of the Social Security “lockbox.”

But it’s highly unlikely that this will be enough. Even Bernie Sanders admitted it would require across-the-board tax hikes to dismantle the nation’s health care system in favor of socialized single-payer. And that didn’t even take into account all his other “free stuff.” Even though Mr. Biden hasn’t yet proposed a full-blown government takeover of health care, he will be pressured to do precisely that. The middle class won’t escape unscathed.

“I don’t know if there’s any of us that have done well that will have a problem with paying more taxes,” Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone told Fox Business this week, “but it’s a ruse to think that hitting us and us alone is going to get the job done.” He added that “it is absolutely a fraud to suggest that all the money that’s going to be needed is going to come from the rich and the super-rich.”

Mr. Biden is making tax vows that will be impossible to keep if he is serious about his spending plans. Either way, he’s misleading the middle class.

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