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Read UK PM Boris Johnson's lips: He wants to raise taxes

Joe_Biden_and_Boris_Johnson _10_June_2021_G7_Cornwall_WHPhoto_Wikipedia_51267665037
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and U.S. President Joe Biden talk during a break of the June 2021 G& summit in Cornwall, England. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz via Wikipedia)

A country's leader is going head-to-head with its lawmakers over tax hikes to pay for more social services.

But it's not U.S President Joe Biden and Congress duking it out over the proposed $3.5 trillion federal spending plan. It's U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Parliament.

Johnson says he wants hike taxes to help pay for England's elder care services.

Political + elder care costs: The tax hike announcement this week means Johnson is facing a head-to-head conflict over how to keep two of his campaign promises.

The PM had pledged to find a way to deal with the increasing cost of caring for England's growing geriatric population. But he also vowed not to raise taxes.

Now Johnson is facing a situation that we here in the United States remember as George H.W. Bush's political downfall.

Read Johnson's lips: The 41st U.S. president told 1988 GOP convention attendees (and the television world), "Read my lips: No new taxes."

Two years later he relented, agreeing to take hike son the wealthy. That, say most political pundits, cost the Bush political patriarch a second Oval Office term.

Like Bush 41, Johnson is the leader of his nation's conservatives. That group is adamantly opposed to almost all tax increases. So we'll get to watch some interesting party infighting.

Intra and inter tax battles: That internal political strife happens here in the United States, too. But whereas Johnson's tax increase idea came out of the blue, Biden is at least is operating from a well-known political position.

The Democratic president made it clear from the get-go of his campaign than he wanted wealthier Americans and successful big businesses to pay more. That makes Biden's battle to bump up taxes or add new ones here across the pond, at least politically, a tad bit easier.

However, with a razor thin majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and a numerically, if not philosophically, 50-50 Senate, Biden has his tax increase work cut out for him and his party's leaders.

Two countries, same tax battles: Regardless of what happens in either country, it will be fun for tax and political observers.

Personally, as tax journalist (emphasis now on the writing portion of that title) and one who's always loved that old saying about Britain and America being divided by a common language, I'm looking forward to the transatlantic (and semantics) debates.

Boris already has given us "dither and delay," which he says must end in dealing with how to cover elder care costs for England. (Quick United Kingdom note here. England is the only country involved. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have separate arrangements for elderly and disabled care.)

Biden's going to have to step up his "C'mon, man."

Johnson's opponents in the Labour Party have denounced his proposal as too little, and accused him of "putting a sticking plaster on gaping wounds that his party inflicted."

US-UK jigsaw puzzle pieces interlocked

Although we've heard essentially the same retorts at various times here on Capitol Hill, I still like the verbal jousting in the British vernacular. Admit it. You, too, watch PBS' Masterpiece (the mysteries are the best!), subscribe to BritBox and Acorn, and liked seeing that extra "u" and a Band-Aid® referred to as sticking plaster.

Even better, these similar national debates remind me that the United States and Great Britain, harking back to our original separation in 1776, remain two countries divided by a common and continual battle over taxation.

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