Kitschelt and Rehm would not be surprised by the anti-tax language deployed by the SALT Democrats. They argue that high-income voters—even the high-education kind that vote for Democrats—are generally skeptical of taxation and redistribution.
So the SALT coalition’s rhetoric makes sense: they are representing their voters in the language that most appeals to them. Gottheimer is the new representative from New Jersey’s 5th, and that’s what somebody from New Jersey’s 5th sounds like on taxes. Gottheimer’s Republican predecessor, Scott Garrett, also liked teeing off on the opposing party’s tax increases. Nobody has necessarily changed their views: it is just that the borders of Blue America have been redrawn slightly.
But given a thin majority in the House (there are only eight more Democrats than Republicans) appeasing the SALT coalition and its constituents is a significant issue for Biden. And it could substantially change what Democratic policy looks like. From Cornerstone Macro’s Don Schneider, here is how the current Ways and Means proposal looks, with and without SALT restoration.
The SALT coalition’s request would have a dramatic direct impact on high-income taxpayers. People making between $100,000 and $200,000 (the average income in Bergen County lies in this range) would get a slightly larger tax cut than they do under the Biden proposal without SALT restoration. Furthermore, people earning between $200,000 and $500,000 (about the 95th to the 98th percentile of the U.S. income distribution) would receive a net tax cut. People in the $500k to $1 million range would see most of their net tax increase under the baseline Ways and Means proposal evaporate.
Finally, taxpayers earning more than $1 million would benefit a great deal from full SALT restoration. But the Democratic commitment to taxing the super-wealthy is strong enough, and built enough into the Ways and Means proposal, that even a bill with full SALT restoration would still hike their taxes.