I seem to remember another young, energetic Democrat candidate for President repeating again and again how the middle-class was going to see its taxes cut if they would take a chance and elect him.
The candidate was Bill Clinton. The year was 1992. The result was the largest tax increase in history, including taxes on people making as little as $20,000 a year. William McGurn remembers, too.
Back when Mr. Clinton was campaigning for president in 1992, he made a pretty direct pitch: Raise taxes on people making more than $200,000, and use those revenues to fund tax relief for the “forgotten middle class.”
In an October presidential debate, then-Gov. Clinton laid out the marginal-rate increase he wanted and some of his plans for the revenue that would be brought in. He followed with a pledge:
“Now, I’ll tell you this,” he said. “I will not raise taxes on the middle class to pay for these programs. If the money does not come in there to pay for these programs, we will cut other government spending, or we will slow down the phase-in of the programs.
But Clinton is a Democrat, and what Democrats say to get elected rarely matches what happens after they’ve duped the electorate.
On page one of the New York Times, the paper described the fate of the middle-class tax cut this way: “Families earning as little as $20,000 a year — members of the ‘forgotten middle class’ whose taxes he promised during his campaign to cut — will also be asked to send more dollars to Washington under the President’s plan.”
Meet the new boss – same as the old boss, unless McCain kicks this thing into Palin-style high gear.
[T]his doesn’t have to be 1992 all over again. Not, at least, if Mr. McCain begins to direct his fire as much against the Democratic establishment on Capitol Hill as against Mr. Obama. For one thing, Congress is even less popular than the president. For another, the need for a Republican check on a Democratic Washington is a potent argument.
That was one of the lessons from the Clinton years. For the first two years of his first term — when Democrats controlled Congress — Mr. Clinton was a different president. With Democrats in control of Washington, the middle-class tax cut vanished, a massive tax hike was approved, and the political debate centered around HillaryCare.