Michael Barone

Social Security is already on an unsustainable trajectory. Increased benefits would, in time, require higher taxes on the young, who have negative or minimal wealth, to finance payments to the elderly, who tend to have significant net worth.

This echoes the Obamacare provision that limits premiums on the old and sick to no more than three times the premiums on the young and healthy. Is it really progressive to have the young subsidize the old?

Another left-wing Democrat, incoming New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, wants to raise income tax rates on those earning $500,000 to pay for universal preschool for the city's children.

That would certainly amount to economic redistribution, but to whom? Research over the last 50 years shows that Head Start and other publicly financed pre-school programs have no lasting positive effect on learning.

What de Blasio's proposal would do is to put a lot more unionized teachers on the city payroll. The redistribution here goes from the very rich to the public employee unions and their allies in the Democratic Party.

Liberal pundits are hailing de Blasio and his politics as a harbinger of the political future and a return to the liberal tradition of Franklin Roosevelt and his political ally New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia.

But in 1944, the heyday of FDR and La Guardia, the five boroughs of New York City cast 7 percent of the nation's votes. In 2012 they cast only 2 percent of the national vote.

It's interesting that New York, which has had more liberal and redistributionist public policies than almost anywhere else in the nation over those 68 years, also has one of the nation's highest rates of income inequality.

High tax rates and high housing costs (exacerbated for many years by rent control) have squeezed middle-class families out of New York. They have migrated in the millions to lower-tax, lower-housing-cost places such as Florida and Texas.

The Obama Democrats did reduce economic inequality somewhat by raising the top income tax rate back to 39.6 percent. The proposals they're talking about now are either small potatoes, or moves to have the working middle-class subsidize non-workers or the young to subsidize the old -- redistribution, but not very progressive.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM