Although the Republican-sponsored Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 did precious little for the middle class, President Donald Trump has been claiming that former Vice President Joe Biden — the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee — is pushing for a middle class tax hike. This claim, journalist Hans Nichols stresses in an August 10 article for Axios, is right out of President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 playbook. But so far, according to Nichols, Biden is not taking Trump’s bait.
“President Trump is trying to lure Joe Biden into a Walter Mondale trap, attempting to force the Democratic nominee to embrace middle-class tax increases as part of his election strategy,” Nichols notes.
In his 1984 reelection campaign, Reagan slammed Democratic presidential nominee Mondale (who had served as vice president under President Jimmy Carter) as someone who was anxious to raise taxes on the middle class. Reagan was reelected by a landslide that year, defeating Mondale by 18% in the popular vote and winning 525 votes in the Electoral College.
Trump, over the weekend, called for a payroll tax suspension.
“With his Saturday evening executive action to unilaterally rewrite the tax code,” Nichols reports, “Trump again is demonstrating the lengths to which he’ll go to change the conversation — and try to make the election a choice between him and Biden and not a referendum on him. In Biden’s response, he didn’t take the bait. Instead, he used the White House effort to suspend payroll taxes as a way to double down on his appeal to seniors and cast himself as the defender of Social Security.”
Biden, Nichols notes, described Trump’s plan as a “first shot in a new, reckless war on Social Security.”
According to Nichols, Biden has “stayed in touch with Mondale over the years” and has “studied Mondale’s papers to learn from history.”
Nichols observes, “Biden isn’t opposed to raising taxes on the wealthy, he told Wall Street donors as much in June. But he’s never said he’d raise middle-class taxes.”