- - Sunday, December 6, 2015


Hillary Clinton seems to be in a race with Bernie Sanders to see who can spend and borrow the most taxpayer money. These days that’s how you win the Democratic nomination for president. So far Hillary’s losing the spendfest. But she’s catching up.

Hillary has just endorsed a $275 billion proposal for public works projects. No word yet as to whether these are “shovel ready.” But what is certain is that the proposal makes the unions and the construction lobby mighty happy.

Never mind that Barack Obama was supposed to have already solved the infrastructure crisis when just a few years ago he spent hundreds of billions of dollars of “stimulus” funds on roads, bridges, green energy projects and the like. In the next few weeks Congress is expected to approve one of the biggest transportation bills in history.

The former secretary of state’s advocacy of infrastructure programs sounds a little hollow given that it comes only a few weeks after she announced her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline project that would create thousands of mostly-union high paying construction jobs without costing taxpayers a thin dime. But that policy apparently contributes to climate change, so no go. Um, Ms. Clinton, it takes energy to build roads.

The bigger conundrum for Hillary is how al of these construction projects are going to be paid for. Her infrastructure plan is on top of her $350 billion “college affordability” initiative, and her call for a new early childhood education program, and her support for a doubling of funding for head start. The combined price tag for all this is about $700 billion over five years.

She also wants to raise the minimum wage and require businesses to offer paid family and medical leave to their workers. These mandates are the equivalent of stealth tax hikes that could add another $300 billion to the cost structures of American employers. The total price tag for all of this progressivism is close to $1 trillion. See table. But who’s counting?

Here’s the contradiction for Hillary. Just a few weeks ago, she pledged not to raise taxes on those who make less than $250,000. But that leaves roughly 2 percent of the taxpayers forking over $700 billion more to the IRS. Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are very rich, but not that rich.

The top 2 percent already pay about half the income taxes in America, according to the latest IRS statistics. That means 2 out of 100 Americans pay as much as the other 98 out of 100.

The maximum tax rate would have to start climbing to we’ll above 50 percent or more to fund this government spree. Today the highest tax rate is about 42 percent. So Hillary would send us back to the rates that prevailed under Jimmy Carter in the good old days of the 1970s. By the way, in the 1970s, when the highest tax rate was 70 percent, the rich paid a smaller share of total taxes than today.

Is it just me, or is Hillary Clinton starting to sound more like Bernie Sanders everyday? One difference is that he unashamedly admits he’s a socialist, but she doesn’t.

The other difference is Sen. Sanders openly acknowledges that his giveaways to the middle class must be accompanied by raising their taxes. Hillary, by contrast, is making promises she can’t possibly keep. Let’s be honest: taxes are going to have to go up on the middle class to finance all her goodies. So much for the straight talk express.

Stephen Moore is an economist at Freedom Works and a Fox News contributor.

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