Saturday, December 09, 2006
The Republican Ideal of Responsibility: Blame Others for Your Mess
The first thing the Democrats should do is make sure all defense funding for the war includes its own source of revenue to finance it - dedicated tax hikes. When Kerry gave his "I voted for it before I voted against it" answer to an audience question about why he voted against a supplemental Iraq War funding bill in its final form he was explaining that he supported the expenditure but would vote for it only if it included his amendment which provided for the revenues to fund it.
This is where the Dems should start. (And the tax should be aimed right taxpayers with more than $200,000 a year in earned income or $100,000 a year in passive income and oil company windfalls and other corporate profits.)
Let me expand upon this a bit here. We should all go around reminding conservatives of the dictum handed down from on high by their patron saint Milton Friedman, "To spend is to tax." Conservatives are hoping that if the payments are made in the out years it will be easier to make the working class the payer.
World War II was fought with near confiscatory tax rates (not to mention a relentless searching for and vilification of war profiteering) and the War on Terror is just like WWII, right - or was that George W. Bush is just like Churchill?.
Telling Americans that this war must be paid for and that the elites should take up the burden will go along way towards changing the tune in Washington. Either this war gets paid for now or the elites will be taxing away your medicare and social security benefits to pay for it later.
The Republicans learned the wrong lesson from Roosevelt: "Tax and spend" means that you could stimulate the economy by shifting money by taxation from investment/speculation into consumer demand. This makes for happy consumers who then vote for you to do more of the same.
The Republicans figured that you could do that in reverse: Not tax and still spend, but on Republican constituencies like defense contractors instead of, say, tech reps and receptionists. It works for a while, and while it does, you have very happy consumers-- in the top 1% of incomes.
The Balanced Budget Amendment is one way to tie the pain of taxation to the joy of spending to make sure that we do not do too much of either. The problem is that it is economically inefficient. Just as you may take out a mortgage to buy a house, nations sometimes need to spend more than they can reasonably receive in taxation in order to, for example, reduce the damage of a recession or Depression.
All of us struggle toward some better mechanism for ensuring that we do not spend without making provision for paying. But the fact is that the answer is better leaders, leaders who put the nation's interest ahead of their base.
More blogs about politics.