--Thomas Friedman, New York Times
We have discussed why Republicans oppose tax increases. Holding the line on taxes is the most effective way to halt government growth, and to begin reducing an unsustainably high debt level. Raising taxes, on the other hand, enables government expansion to continue.
But since holding the line on taxes takes the oxygen away from government, the government party, and the national elite that rules through government, Democrats wage a life-or-death struggle to increase taxes. Democrats fear smaller government. They will—as we have repeatedly noted—fight harder to hold onto what they have than will Republicans fight to gain new territory.
The hyperbole of their language tells us how much Democrats know their fate is tied to big government, and how much they feel the epic challenge to their continued rule:
• From Katrina vanden Heuvel, Nation editor and publisher:
the [GOP] attempts to roll back not simply Obama’s reforms but the Great Society and the New Deal — indeed much of the progress made in the 20th century. . . it would be a grave mistake to give up on government; instead it’s time to clean up our politics and rebuild a fair economy.• From Congressman Harry Waxman (D-CA):
The Republicans want us to repeal the 20th century, the New Deal, the Fair Deal, to turn us back to the robber barons running the country, and to eviscerate the environmental and other regulations to protect public health and safety. And to cut spending in ways that would be very harmful to people who rely on government.• From Hendrik Hertzberg of the New Yorker:
Republicans are lunatics dedicated above all to destroying the Obama Presidency.Democrats are so determined to raise taxes on the wealthy they will do so even if it doesn’t yield additional revenue, notes Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer:
asked [in 2008] about his support for raising capital gains taxes, given the historical record of government losing net revenue as a result[,] Obama [responded: “]what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.” A most revealing window into our president’s political core: To impose a tax that actually impoverishes . . . the U.S. Treasury is . . . nothing but punitive. It benefits no one — not the rich, not the poor, not the government. For Obama, however, it brings fairness, which is priceless.But Krauthammer’s argument misses the mark. Obama and Democrats aren’t about just raising taxes on the rich. They truly want the revenue that comes from raising taxes on everyone. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) catches that point in his Wall Street Journal review of The Price of Civilization by Jeffrey Sachs, a well-known development economist at Columbia. Ryan writes
Sachs is honest enough to acknowledge that the "rich" are not nearly rich enough to pay for his ever-expansive vision of government. We're told that "each of us with an above-average income" (i.e., $50,000 per household) must "understand that . . . we can make do with a little less take-home pay."Ryan notes Sachs wants more taxes even as Sachs admits, "Yes, the federal government is incompetent and corrupt—but we need more, not less, of it."
Republicans: no new taxes. Democrats: new taxes on everyone. A zero-sum war; winners and losers. The people decide.