Sunday, December 9, 2012

Don't Listen To Grover (Norquist)!

Maximizing the extent to which the American People can enjoy the fruits of their labor is an admirable goal, yet at this time, I have to question the wisdom of Grover Norquist's pledge to "oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal tax rate for individuals and business; and to oppose any net reduction of elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

The problem boils down to this - Mr. Norquist approaches fiscal matters as if they existed in a vacuum. Even if the national debt crisis could be addressed strictly through spending cuts, political reality would never permit this course of action, it would too readily lend itself towards the liberal narrative that conservatives are "obstructionist" who "only care about the wealthy." For example, Mit Romney's rejection of a hypothetical offer to cut $10 in spending for $1 in tax hikes was one factor, among several, that contributed to his generally poor public image, which ultimately led to his defeat.

Underlying Mr. Norquist's vision is the belief that tax cuts will Starve The Beast, i.e. the lack of revenue will force the federal government to shrink. Nothing could be further from the truth. Deprived of tax revenue, the beast continued to grow, but on borrowed money. The only way to cure the public's unhealthy appetite for an expansion of the welfare and the warfare state is to make them bear its true costs. We can be certain that if the majority of the American People had to pay the full cost of the programs that they considered indispensable, many more would begin to see the merits of limited government. Take the example of the Iraq War: if each citizen was handed a bill for their share of the cost, perhaps even John McCain would have joined the anti-war movement! Only when the debt had been paid down, would it be fiscally responsible and politically feasible to push for tax cuts.

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