Should Biden Stop Trying to Present Himself as Successful?

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden. (AFP)
US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden. (AFP)


More than a year before Election Day, a former Jill Biden aide says it’s time to go negative.

On Friday this column noted concern among Democrats that Joe Biden insists on talking about “Bidenomics" even as Americans remain upset about his degradation of our money. Now one of the president’s allies has expanded his friendly critique into a full-blown 2024 Democratic campaign strategy: Instead of talking about the president, attack people who aren’t the president.

“Biden should stop focusing on the economy" reads an MSNBC headline over a story from former Jill Biden press secretary Michael LaRosa. But Mr. LaRosa isn’t suggesting a focus on other policy pillars of the Biden presidency. Instead, he recommends abandoning the economic argument and replacing it with a pure partisan assault. Mr. LaRosa advises that Mr. Biden “needs to make the election about how Republicans have disqualified themselves from leading the country. As part of that strategy, he can do what Republicans have done effectively and use wedge issues to motivate and outrage their own voters."

Showing just how much he respects the intelligence of the American voter—and also how much he respects his political opponents— Mr. LaRosa writes:

Voters are persuaded by powerful contrasts that are simple, straightforward, provocative, and clear. Instead of continuing to champion statistics and investments, Biden, despite his impulse to be a bipartisan peacemaker, should be working to disqualifying [sic] the other party and anyone who represents it, including anyone who emerges as its nominee.

What a paragraph—as if this era’s assault on purchasing power hasn’t been crystal-clear to all Americans and voters are failing to appreciate the greatness of Joe Biden because they’re just too simple. Jill Biden’s former spin doctor then suggests that roughly half the country should be disqualified over political views.

At least Mr. LaRosa provides some comic relief in claiming that the president who now presides over criminal prosecutions of his political rival has an “impulse to be a bipartisan peacemaker." If Joe Biden ever had such an impulse, he has certainly succeeding in suppressing it. Perhaps this is why his wife’s former aide is suggesting a strategy of negative and polarizing attacks. Play to your strengths!

Speaking of comedy gold, the former Biden aide then claims that one reason it’s a bad idea for Democrats to talk about “Bidenomics" is because it might spark bad voter memories of “Reaganomics." It seems that Democrats are trying hard not to remember that voters gave Reagan victories in 49 states for his 1984 re-election.

Is it a political coincidence that Reagan’s support for sound money, open markets and supply-side economics led to the end of America’s last great inflation?


Another Tax Lesson Pro Publica Will Probably Ignore At the Manhattan Institute Brian Riedlexplains that the United States has maintained a more progressive tax system than the dozens of other industrialized economies that make up the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development:

... America taxes lower- and middle-income families at a substantially lower rate than other major economies. Decades of refundable child tax credits, earned income-tax credits, increased standard deductions, and lower marginal tax rates have essentially moved half of all families off the federal income-tax rolls. America’s non-wealthy families also benefit from lower payroll-tax rates than other nations and, most important, the lack of a [value-added tax].

Consequently, an OECD study in 2008 concluded that—even when controlling for income inequality—the U.S. had the most progressive income and payroll-tax code in OECD. Specifically, the highest-earning decile of American families pay a share of the nation’s income and payroll taxes that is 35% greater than its share of the total income earned—compared with an average of 11% across OECD. And these income- and payroll-tax figures even understate America’s relative progressivity by excluding the VATs that further drag down other nations’ overall progressivity levels.

Washington’s income taxes are extraordinarily top-heavy. Treasury data show that, in 2023, the bottom 40% of earners collectively pay no income tax and will instead receive a collective tax rebate of $123 billion. The middle-earning quintile pays an effective income-tax rate of just 2.2%, while the second-highest quintile pays an effective rate of 5.7%. Even when including all payroll and other federal taxes, the middle-earning quintile still pays only 11.9% of its income in federal taxes, and the second-highest quintile pays 16.2%. Overall, the bottom-earning 60% of families altogether financed just 23 days of federal spending in 2023.

Meanwhile, the top-earning quintile—while earning 58% of all income—pays 69% of all federal taxes and 90% of all income taxes. And the top 1% of earners—while earning 18% of all income—pay 25% of all federal taxes and 40% of all income taxes. By contrast, the bottom-earning 60% earns 23% of all income, yet pays just 13% of the total federal taxes, including a combined negative income tax.


James Freeman is the co-author of “The Cost: Trump, China and American Revival" and also the co-author of “Borrowed Time: Two Centuries of Booms, Busts and Bailouts at Citi."


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(Lisa Rossi helps compile Best of the Web.)


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