DFL cynically using ‘far right’ label to shut down debate

According to the Tax Foundation, Minnesota currently has the fifth highest top rate of state income tax in the United States, 9.85%. The budget currently proposed by the Minnesota House proposes to increase this by adding a new, fifth tier of 10.85%. As Figure 1 shows, this would give our state the third highest top rate of state income tax in the United States.

Figure 1: Top rate of state income tax, 2021

Source: The Tax Foundation

Now, I think this is bad policy, but I don’t necessarily think those pushing it are bad people. In fact, I know some of them aren’t. And, while I find the idea of hiking an already high tax rate even higher slightly exasperating, I don’t think that wanting to do so makes you a raving commie either. By the same token, opposing the increase of an already high tax rate doesn’t make you evil. It is, in fact, a pretty bog standard – dare I say milquetoast? – free market/small government/conservative/libertarian position. Both positions are, or ought to be, well within the bounds of sensible political discussion in a functioning republic.

That is not how the DFL – or its social media team, at any rate – sees it. In a now deleted tweet, the Minnesota DFL included opposition to this tax hike among five measures supposedly proposed by the GOP which constitute a “far-right agenda.”

When you think of the “far-right,” you probably think of Nazi or skinhead goons and the like. What you probably don’t think of are any of the policies on this list.

Does the DFL really believe these policies are “far-right”? If they did that would be worrying enough in itself.

But the fact that this tweet was so hastily deleted suggests that they fully realized how utterly bogus it is. And the fact that they would say it while thinking that is at least as worrying.

It is worrying because it strongly indicates that the DFL, or whichever operative is responsible for this tweet, does not, in fact, take the “far-right” all that seriously at all. Instead, they regard it as just something to be screamed at anyone who disagrees with them, even on so mundane an argument as whether or not we ought to raise the fifth highest top tax rate in the country. The cry of “far-right” is being exploited to shut down debate. This is staggering in its cynicism.

And there is an even more worrying aspect to this. A while back it became a popular thing to say “Its ok to punch a Nazi.” Indeed, where they are found Nazis must be fought and beaten, but I would hope that, in a functioning republic, we could do so with the tools of debate and the ballot box. But now, it seems, “far-right” – a term closely related to ‘Nazi’ – is being defined so broadly as to include anyone who thinks that we ought not to raise the fifth highest top tax rate in the country. The road from “Its ok to punch a Nazi” to “Its ok to punch anyone who doesn’t want higher taxes” was a surprisingly short one.

American political debate is in a miserable state right now. There are those on both sides who bear responsibility for this. If the country is to function, rhetoric like that deployed so cynically by the DFL this week needs to go.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment.