The Corner

Re: Something for Nothing

I agree with Mark that Republicans are terrible negotiators. I also believe that Republicans shouldn’t give in on letting taxes go up for the highest-income Americans alone (whether via deductions or higher rates) during these negotiations. There is nothing to gain from such a move: If they give in, taxes will go up on top earners, they won’t get any credit for comprising, and they will rightly be blamed by true small-government advocates for caving to political posturing from the left. Further, tax increases on high-income earners today won’t prevent taxes from going up on everyone in the future, since raising taxes on the rich is a symbolic measure that won’t raise much revenue — while having negative long-term consequences all the same. It won’t reduce the size of government today or tomorrow. In fact, it will make it easier for the government to keep on growing.

Strangely, back in December 2010, Republicans seemed to understand that there was nothing to gain by giving in to the president’s demand for high taxes on the rich alone. Back then, their position was “no tax increases or tax increases on everyone.” Moreover, they seem to have forgotten that this fight today should be about restraining spending and moving away from our unsustainable fiscal path , rather than about taxes. To be sure, lower taxes for all is better than higher taxes for some or higher taxes for everyone. But smaller government — an ideal that Republicans claim they believe in — isn’t only about keeping taxes low. The principles of smaller government have to be fought by fighting for less spending first and foremost, in particular by fighting for the reform of entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. 

Taking the side of small government during these negotiations probably means that we will go over the cliff. But at least we would go over the cliff knowing that Republicans fought for the long-term fiscal health of this country. It’s also better than the scenario in which we go over the cliff knowing that the Republican leadership caved on raising taxes for higher-income taxpayers while fighting against spending cuts (in the form of sequestration). This is all the more disturbing because the sequester’s cuts are mostly cuts to the growth of spending and they won’t make a dent in our fiscal problem

Obviously, I am not holding my breath that Republicans will do the right thing since, with a few exceptions, they stopped being the party of smaller government a long time ago. I have said it before, but I’ll say it again: We are in this mess today because for years Republicans in Congress, along with the pundits and the policy people who support them, have agreed to significant compromises of their principles in the name of practicality or politics. (Think about Medicare Part D, or the Bush tax cuts in conjunction with massive spending increases.) But look what we got in exchange for practicality and politics, the government we have today: It is big and it will get bigger; it is overreaching; it is inefficient; it is wasteful; it corrupts the private sector and gets corrupted in return. 

Most Popular

World

China’s Pandemic Deception

You’ve made it to December in our annus horribilis. On the menu today: sorting through CNN’s fascinating but not completely illuminating bombshell involving leaked documents from the Hubei, China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, filling in some details about the early days of the pandemic. More ... Read More
World

China’s Pandemic Deception

You’ve made it to December in our annus horribilis. On the menu today: sorting through CNN’s fascinating but not completely illuminating bombshell involving leaked documents from the Hubei, China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, filling in some details about the early days of the pandemic. More ... Read More
Economy & Business

The Corporate-Woke Complex

On Sunday, the New York Times reported that several multinational corporations including Apple and Nike are lobbying against legislation that would ban products from China’s Xinjiang province, many of which are made by forced Uyghur labor. Lobbyists are arguing that, although their clients oppose forced labor ... Read More
Economy & Business

The Corporate-Woke Complex

On Sunday, the New York Times reported that several multinational corporations including Apple and Nike are lobbying against legislation that would ban products from China’s Xinjiang province, many of which are made by forced Uyghur labor. Lobbyists are arguing that, although their clients oppose forced labor ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Cinderella Man 2

Welcome to “The Tuesday,” a weekly newsletter about politics, language, culture, and, this week, film criticism. To subscribe to “The Tuesday” and receive it in your inbox as God and John Wayne intended, please follow this link. The Mona Lisa of Hillbilly Literature The Ron Howard film Hillbilly Elegy, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Cinderella Man 2

Welcome to “The Tuesday,” a weekly newsletter about politics, language, culture, and, this week, film criticism. To subscribe to “The Tuesday” and receive it in your inbox as God and John Wayne intended, please follow this link. The Mona Lisa of Hillbilly Literature The Ron Howard film Hillbilly Elegy, ... Read More
Culture

Our Real Systemic Problem

America’s got a problem that’s systemic in nature. This problem has less to do with individual intentions than the structure within which our intentions are formed. That structure explains a great deal about observed disparities in wealth, and other advantages, between various racial and ethnic groups. It ... Read More
Culture

Our Real Systemic Problem

America’s got a problem that’s systemic in nature. This problem has less to do with individual intentions than the structure within which our intentions are formed. That structure explains a great deal about observed disparities in wealth, and other advantages, between various racial and ethnic groups. It ... Read More