Consider this a case of pre-Election Day cold feet. As The Hill points out, Senate Democrats had been on board with Joe Biden’s campaign pledge to reverse Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, which he claims only benefited the top 1% of Americans. Biden’s pledge to reverse those changes on “Day One” of his presidency had, until now, received enthusiastic backing from Senate Democrats.

That was true even when analysis showed that it could cut economic growth and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs. CNBC noted in May the potential impacts of returning to the old corporate-tax policies and its impact on workers, not to mention the investment costs of raising the capital-gains taxes again:

Even with this in hand, Biden has made raising these taxes the centerpiece of his economic plan. Right now his campaign is flooding the airwaves with a campaign ad that pledges that Biden’s tax hikes won’t impact anyone earning under $400,000 a year — a claim which CNBC notes isn’t quite true.

Running a campaign on tax hikes has made other Democrats a bit queasy, as it turns out:

Democrats are backing away from vows to reverse President Trump’s tax cuts if they take control of the Senate and White House.

Senate Democrats had suggested they could move quickly on the issue, but now say they are likely to delay stand-alone tax legislation if Democratic nominee Joe Biden is elected president and their party controls the House and Senate.

Instead, the priority will be on spending to create jobs and raise wages, investments in green technology and infrastructure and a national plan to contain the coronavirus pandemic. …

But potential tax increases on wealthy individuals and corporations are expected to come into play later, depending on how significant the deficit concerns are next year.

This sounds like reality avoidance by Senate Democrats. How long would they be able to hold out against a big tax hike, anyway? Their progressive wing wants to pass massive tax hikes on the wealthy for just their punitive effect rather than any fiscal advantages they think will result. Bernie Sanders calls billionaires a policy failure, and says they “should not exist.” Sanders wants the 2017 tax cuts reversed and wants a wealth tax imposed on top of that, and he’s not alone in the caucus on that idea:

Sanders’ wealth tax ranges from a 1 percent yearly tax on net wealth above $32 million held by a married couple ($16 million for a single person) to an 8 percent tax on a married couple’s wealth that exceeds $10 billion ($5 billion for a single person).

This would supposedly raise $4.5 trillion over 10 years, which would then be spent on Sanders’ $2.5 trillion housing proposal, universal childcare, and a portion of his $32 trillion Medicare For All plan.

His plan is similar to a wealth tax proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.) earlier this year, which would tax fortunes that exceed $50 million.

Be sure to read the full Reason analysis on this idea, too, for a sense of how futile this effort would be. Essentially, it would provide employment for lots of tax attorneys and bureaucrats, but we’d be lucky to get a dime on the claimed dollar. We would also likely see a stampede of capital going overseas, with economic growth stunted at best.

Maybe Chuck Schumer can afford to dissemble on the Democratic stampede toward massive tax hikes. Joe Biden can’t. He has to keep progressives enthused, or at least somewhat engaged, in order to have a prayer in November. Biden’s running these ads to try to thread the needle, hoping to mollify middle-class Americans who really did benefit from the 2017 tax cuts both indirectly and directly while signaling to the Sanders-Warren wing that he’s still gonna be a class warrior on their behalf.

That constant stream of “I’m raising taxes” may be inconvenient for Democrats running down-ballot in red and purple states, especially those running to keep their seats in Schumer’s caucus. Unfortunately, that’s the vise in which Democrats have placed themselves by their pandering on class warfare and socialism. In that sense, Biden’s only playing the hand he’s been dealt — and in his own way, is playing it more honestly than Schumer is.