It's absolutely crippling to any effort to outline policy with any level of ambition to concede the idea that any tax that places any burden whatsoever on the non-rich is therefore unacceptable. It's fairly easy to design revenue measures that fall mostly on the rich, but extraordinarily difficult to design measures that exclusively snag people who fit a conventional definition of rich.Yep. And what makes this problem even worse is that the attacks these days come from both left and right. The right will claim that an increase in the capital gains tax, for example, is a dreadful idea because it affects middle-class investors — despite the fact that only about 2% of capital gains taxes are paid by the middle class. On the left, you'll get social justice environmentalists inveighing against carbon taxes or congestion taxes or gasoline taxes because they impact the poor — despite the fact that the resulting revenues are usually used for programs that directly help the poor. Rock meet hard place.
I suppose there are two possible answers to this. The first is for liberals to get better (and braver) about proposing tax hikes. I'm all ears for any bright ideas on this score. The second is to do what Republicans do: propose spending increases and just don't worry about the taxes. If the Washington Post editorial board huffs and puffs, who cares? Eventually things will work themselves out. That's not the way I'd like to see things get done in a perfect world, but we don't live in a perfect world, do we?