This Right-Wing Radio Host Is Starting to Sound Like Bernie Sanders

By
Hugh Hewitt
Our generation's Che Guevara?Photo: Scott D. Smith/Retna/© Scott D. Smith/Retna

As America approaches a level of inequality not seen since feudal fiefdoms, a funny thing is happening to American conservatives. First, the GOP’s presidential front-runner called for raising taxes on Wall Street speculators. Now right-wing radio hosts are pining to expropriate the wealth of tech billionaires in the pages of the New York Times.

On Thursday, Ana Marie Cox asked conservative media personality Hugh Hewitt about the GOP’s aversion to taxing the rich. His response is worth quoting at length:

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Most Americans think we should raise taxes on the rich, but the Republican candidates don’t, except Trump, who has said he would consider it. I asked him about a wealth tax, and he said no. But I find that concentration of wealth in Silicon Valley deeply disturbing. Those billionaires are very smart, but they moved to Silicon Valley at the right time. Someone was going to invent Facebook. I’m glad Mark Zuckerberg did it, but it wasn’t an act of genius; it’s an act of timing. Should he have tens of billions of dollars?

 That’s a pretty radical position for a conservative. I don’t think it’s very good for the society to have billionaires. It creates envy. And envy destroys republics.

Hewitt, apparently angling for a column at Jacobin, goes on to say, “You don’t need 10 billion dollars. Nobody does. The country does.”

No other conservative commentator or politician has gone full “You didn’t build that” this cycle. But Hewitt isn’t the only Republican who has cribbing notes from Bernie Sanders. Ted Cruz has repeatedly lamented that, under Obama, “the top 1 percent are currently earning the highest percentage of our national income since 1928.” Between the first GOP debate last summer and the fifth contest in November, the Republican candidates tripled their use of words associated with “class” and “inequality,” according to Bloomberg.

Hewitt, apparently angling for a column at Jacobin, goes on to say, “You don’t need 10 billion dollars. Nobody does. The country does.”

No other conservative commentator or politician has gone full “You didn’t build that” this cycle. But Hewitt isn’t the only Republican who has cribbing notes from Bernie Sanders. Ted Cruz has repeatedly lamented that, under Obama, “the top 1 percent are currently earning the highest percentage of our national income since 1928.” Between the first GOP debate last summer and the fifth contest in November, the Republican candidates tripled their use of words associated with “class” and “inequality,” according to Bloomberg.

As Donald Trump has weathered attacks on his commitment to conservative economics, the Republican base’s own attachment to supply-side orthodoxy has come into question. Immigration is still the primary wedge issue between the party’s business-oriented Establishment and its populist base. But as The Week’s Michael Brandon Dougherty notes, anti-tax fanatics are also a big part of that Establishment. And if middle-class incomes continue to stagnate, those onetime insurgents could one day find themselves cast as the out-of-touch elites in an intra-party feud over tax policy.

But the middle class can’t live on Limbaugh alone. And now Hugh Hewitt is starting to sound like Saul Alinsky.