Clive Crook, writing in Bloomberg View:
The obsession with the Bush-era tax rates is mistaken in another way, too. It opens Democrats to the charge that their notion of fairness is about leveling down not leveling up. That's still a profoundly un-American idea. You don't improve the prospects of the unemployed, or of people with limited skills in low-wage jobs, by increasing taxes on the rich. Where is Obama's agenda for expanding economic opportunity? Shouldn't he have one? And shouldn't it have at least equal standing with the quest to hammer the 1 percent?
The U.S. is still a country that reveres rather than resents success. It isn't a place where everybody making more than $250,000 a year (or $500,000, or $1 million) is seen as greedy or corrupt and deserving of punishment. I'm amazed by how often the Democrats' rhetoric invites exactly that interpretation. Raising taxes on the rich isn't a regrettable necessity, according to their worldview, but a basic requirement of social justice, regardless of the use, if any, to which the money will be put. Even if the government didn't need the revenue, the rich have it coming. This is a political platform with limited appeal in Europe, let alone in the U.S.
I'm quoting this because it resonates with me, but on the other hand, the part about "where is Obama's agenda for expanding economic opportunity" is probably a little unfair to Obama. He talks endlessly about expanding access to college through Pell Grants and low-interest-rate student loans. Critics, including me, see that as a way to subsidize his base in the faculty, but to the limited extent that Mr. Obama has an opportunity agenda it seems to center on education as a pathway to economic opportunity.