The NRA Defense

One of the troubling political positions the GOP takes is on “no tax increases”.  Since no one likes to pay more in taxes, why is this clear position so troubling?

The simple answer is the budget math doesn’t work without some increase in taxes.  The Country’s current path of borrowing to fill the budget deficit is steadily increasing the debt burden and soon the interest payment will crowd out other essential spending.

But why not simply cut spending?

Again, the simple answer is we should but that won’t be enough.  Too much of the budget is considered essential by this group or that one.  In the end, one must conclude that a combination of increased taxes and decreased spending with be both fair and mathematically make balancing the budget possible.

So why “no tax increases”?

Short term it helps elect or reelect candidates that run on that position.  This position is a pure sell out and total disservice to voters.  (No one is accusing any Congress members of being courageous or not acting first in their best interest.)

Longer term the “no tax” pledge is part of the slippery slope defense.  Just like the NRA who opposes any regulations on guns (even reasonable and necessary ones), the “no tax” pledge removes the chance that if one tax increase is allowed that others would follow.  It also suggests a level of distrust that Democrats would participate constructively in any effort to reduce spending.

History suggests that both positions are not totally unreasonable beliefs.  The problem is that holding these suspicions prevents any progress from being made.

The Ryan Budget proposal provided a potential first step (if it was sincere).  Ryan had it wrong on taxes but a thorough discussion of entitlement cuts and who these cuts would impact, would have lead to tax increases as both necessary and as fair.  The poor and Middle Class loose on entitlement reductions and the top 2% pay more on tax increases.

There is another revelation that would pop out in any serious budget discussion.  Talk of spending decreases (which is actually about spending shifts from government to individuals) begs the fact that currently we are not meeting the cost of the legislatively passed benefits.  Unless step one is to balance current spending, there is no basis to speak of future spending or taxation policy.

This speaks to the strong likelihood that the US will need a national sales tax in order to pay for the expensive health care we currently consume.  This consumption tax will rest disproportional upon the middle class and the poor.  To even the load, allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire on those earning more than $250,000 evens the table.

With the budget hypothetically balanced, what do think would happen next?

Do you think there would be proposals for new spending programs and new taxes?




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