Tax and spend

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"Tax and spend" is a pejorative epithet applied to politicians or policies that increase the size of government.


It appears the formulation first[citation needed] appeared in print in a 1938 New York Times report written by Arthur Krock, quoting President Franklin D. Roosevelt's trusted advisor Harry Hopkins, the Administrator of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a key agency of Roosevelt's New Deal program: "[Hopkins] met a criticism of this sinister combination by saying: 'We will spend and spend, and tax and tax, and elect and elect.'"[1] (According to Krock, the "sinister combination" was Roosevelt, Hopkins, United States Postmaster General James Farley, and New Jersey Democratic political boss Frank Hague.)[1]

Two weeks later, Hopkins and Krock argued the point in duelling letters to the editor of The New York Times. First Hopkins flatly denied he had ever laid out the "tax, spend, elect" formulation, but Krock asserted that "I used and printed the quotation after careful verification because, while it fitting [sic?] completely into Mr. Hopkins's political philosophy as I have understood it, I wanted to be certain of the language."[not in citation given] Krock also revealed that he had spoken with witnesses who claimed to have heard Hopkins make the comment at the Empire Race Track in Yonkers, New York, including a "reputable citizen" who was "in lighter hours, a playmate of Mr. Hopkins."[2]

The term is used similarly in the UK[3][4] and Australia.[5]


  1. ^ a b Krock, Arthur. "WIN BACK 10 STATES; Republicans Take Ohio, Wisconsin, Kansas and Massachusetts". Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  2. ^ "Letters to The Times". The New York Times. November 24, 1938, p. 26. Retrieved on May 19, 2009.
  3. ^ Elliott, Larry; White, Michael (1997-01-21). "Brown buries the tax and spend image". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  4. ^ "Labour to end tax-and-spend - McDonnell". BBC News. 2016-03-12. Retrieved 2018-07-27.
  5. ^ "'Tax and spend' is back". Retrieved 2018-07-27.