This Article first explains how the prevailing discourse frames federal tax support for the middle class as either consumption or redistribution, both of which appear to be essentially unproductive and potentially destructive. Second, this Article examines the expansion of state and local tax support for elite private capital. In contrast to tax support favoring the middle class, this upper-class support is accepted widely as necessary for productive economic development. Operating below the radar of prominent tax debates, this state and local tax policy reveals more starkly and perversely how prevailing views of tax rationalize inequality and austerity. This Article concludes by defending the core regulatory and productive function of the democratic tax system, grounded in the legitimate collective power of middle- and lower-income households to make the economy more responsible to their interests.

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