A Clinton Presidency Would be Unprecedented.

No not just because she is a woman.
Not just because she is a woman and her unfavorables are 12 points above her favorables (according to the Huffington Post smoother)

1) She is attempting to be elected as a non-incumbent Democrat.
2) The top marginal income tax rate is less than 69%.
3) The 16th amendment has been ratified so the income tax is constitutional
and finally
4) she is not proposing to both increase taxes on high incomes and cut taxes paid by the middle class.

Here is a figure stolen from Kevin Drum


It’s hard to see compared to the huge tax cuts for the top 1% proposed by Republicans and the huge tax increases proposed both for top 1% and for mid incomes by Sanders, but Clinton is proposing a tiny increase in taxes on mid incomes.

This has not worked for a non incumbent Democratic candidate since the Reagan tax cuts. The two successful candidates, her husband and her 2008 rival, both promised to increase taxes on high income *and* cut taxes on the middle class. Obama also delivered.

Bill Clinton was convinced to be serious and responsible, so he proposed increased taxes on high incomes, reduced taxes for the working poor (via the 1993 increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit which had nothing to do with the 1996 welfare reform bill) and a tiny 4.7 cent a gallon increase in the tax on gasoline. For this I blame Robert Rubin, and I don’t even care if Matt Taibbi agrees. Clinton promised (accurately) that 85% of the increased taxes would be paid by the top 1%. He could have managed 95% or 105% but that wouldn’t have been serious. People were quite irritated (of course they were also scared by the attempted health care reform). Then the Republicans gained control of Congress.

Now in 2016, when the GOP is in the act of nominating Donald Trump, Democrats refuse to sink to the demagoguery of offering tax cuts to the middle class while raising taxes on high incomes. It’s not as if the current Clinton approach hasn’t been tried. It was tried in 1984, 1988, 2000, and 2004. What do all of those elections have in common ?

I hasten to add that am not predicting that Clinton will lose the election.