The Corner

A Rude Question

Who cares what Grover Norquist thinks? Organizations such as his Americans for Tax Reform are all right, but irrevocable “pledges” not to do this or that — in this case, never to raise taxes — strike me as simplistic, and severely limit the possible courses of action for those candidates and legislators who sign them. Not that I’m in favor of raising taxes, mind you, nor opposed to something like a flat tax — which in fact I’ve advocated. But silly things like “pledges” do nothing to direct the taxation argument in a fruitful direction, and I don’t understand why Norquist looms so large in Republican thinking.

Then again, if the Democrats are really serious about soaking the rich, why don’t they come out in favor of replacing the income tax — which is basically a mechanism to prevent the upper-middle class from becoming wealthy — with a wealth tax? Holders of great family fortunes can easily live off their inheritances, with no taxable “income” whatsoever, but imagine if the Kennedys, the Rockefellers, and those who grabbed the swag by marrying the widow of a rich Republican senator, were forced to cough up a sizable percentage of their estates to the feds each year. Then you’d see real tax reform, and in a hurry. 

Michael Walsh — Mr. Walsh is the author of the novels Hostile Intent and Early Warning and, writing as frequent NRO contributor David Kahane, Rules for Radical Conservatives.


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