Right Thinking From The Left Coast
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Taxes, National Security and Trust

One of the fun things about being a conservative is that, if you ignore the brain-dead national party, there’s a lot more intellectual vigor on the Right than the Left. Right now, there’s an interesting debate going on about whether we are going to have to acquiesce to tax increases in order to balance the budget. Bruce Bartlet is arguing that this is a national security issue, a position about which I’m somewhat dubious. But I like Bainbridge’s response:

On a bipartisan basis, our rulers have spent us into a position in which taxes probably will have to go up at least for a while. But agreeing to tax increases ought to be done only in return for a package of fundamental reforms. We need entitlement reforms (including raising the retirement age), budgetary reforms (bans on ear marks, a line item veto, and a balanced budget amendment), political reforms (real restrictions on gerrymandering), and the like. Letting the powers that be have higher taxes without those other reforms will not solve the problem. All it does is make for a bigger candy store to which we’ve given the keys to the children.

Put simply, absent real reforms, I don’t want anybody in Washington or Sacramento getting their grubby hands on any more of my money because I don’t trust them to spend it wisely. My guess is that a lot of Bartlett’s new friends on the left, for example, would be quite content to raise taxes and massively cut defense. So the either/or he presents strikes me as a false choice.

I’ve slowly come to believe that we may have to raise taxes—or at least let the Bush tax cuts expire—to balance the budget. Our population is simply too old and the interests too entrenched to do otherwise (you can try to balance the budget with only spending cuts here).  However, the last decade—and the state’s response to the stimulus money—has shown what happens when governments get oceans of new revenue. They do not use it shore up their finances and balance their budgets. They use it to start new programs with new future obligations.  Look at Obama. We’re facing a huge fiscal crisis right now.  He has proposed and passed numerous tax increases. However, these are targeted not at deficit reduction but at new programs, new entitlements and new obligations.

No, Bainbridge is right.  If new taxes are coming, we need something more than promises to ensure that we’re righting the fiscal ship. The current leadership can’t even go two months without ignoring PAYGO. They haven’t earned any more of our money.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 05/25/10 at 06:52 PM in Politics Law, & Economics • Permalink

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