Is John Edwards Channeling Walter Mondale?
Whenever I hear John Edwards enumerate the impressive array of new domestic programs on tap for his presidency, and his plans for financing them, I am reminded of Vice President Walter Mondale’s 1984 speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president. Edwards’ recent visit with the Concord Monitor is no exception. Here is an excerpt, as reported by Lauren Dorgan:
At every stop, Edwards said, he tells voters he'll ask them to sacrifice. Asked to describe what he means, he described his plan for increases in capital gains taxes, saying taxes on "wealth income" should be in line with those on work income. "I think if we want to fund the things that I think are important to share in prosperity, then people who have done well in this country, including me, have more of a responsibility to give back," he said. Later, he added: "There are no free meals."
Why does this remind me of Walter Mondale? Here is what the former Vice President said in his acceptance speech on July 19, 1984 in San Francisco:
“Whoever is inaugurated in January, the American people will have to pay Mr. Reagan's bills. The budget will be squeezed. Taxes will go up. And anyone who says they won't is not telling the truth to the American people…Let's tell the truth. It must be done, it must be done. Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won't tell you. I just did.”
I remember watching this speech live on television, hearing those lines, and thinking to myself that Mondale had just sealed his fate.
I do not mean to pass judgment here on the intrinsic value of Edwards’ policy proposals. But in so closely linking his policy agenda with tax increases, he is setting up a Herculean task for himself, as the potential Democratic nominee. If his campaign thinks that Republicans will not remember come this November, I encourage them to do a simple web search with the phrases “John Edwards” and “tax increase.”
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