Taxes

Republicans and Taxes

False congressional fiscal conservatives begin to reveal their true selves.

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When President Obama won re-election last month by a larger margin than even his most fervent supporters had expected, though with fewer popular votes than he received in 2008, most commentators initially opined that not much had changed in Washington. The president would remain in the White House for another four years, the Democrats would keep control of the Senate, and the House would stay in Republican hands. Most Republicans re-elected to both houses of Congress had publicly pledged not to vote to raise taxes under any circumstances. And most of those Republicans have adhered to that promise—until now.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the false congressional fiscal conservatives in the Republican Party began to reveal their true selves. Led by the Republican presidential standard bearer in 2008, Arizona Sen. John McCain, at least a half-dozen Republican members of Congress have renounced their public promises never to vote to raise taxes. In the case of Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Congressman and Senator-elect Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., they had restated their promises, directly or indirectly, as recently as last month during their successful campaigns. Did they blatantly dupe the voters? Did they genuinely change their minds? Did they ever sincerely accept the pro-freedom anti-tax logic?

The Founders certainly embraced the pro-freedom anti-tax logic, as they gave us a Constitution that barred the federal government from imposing any direct tax on any persons. That was part of the genius of the document. If the feds really needed cash, they'd need to tax the states. If the states were feeling over-taxed, they could block federal taxes in the Senate, where for 135 years senators were chosen by state governments as delegates to the Senate, rather than elected by voters. This procedure, too, was part of the Founders' genius. It came about in order to assure a place at the federal table for the states, many of which were older than the federal government and all of which retained their sovereignty when they voluntarily joined the union. This procedure for choosing senators was also a check on the growth of the federal government.

Those constitutional provisions were cast aside during the progressive era about 100 years ago, when, during a period of just five years, the Constitution was amended so that the states lost their place at the federal table and Congress could tax incomes, and the feds got a new printing press for cash in the form of the Federal Reserve.

I have described this dreadful time in our history in my new book, Theodore and Woodrow: How Two American Presidents Destroyed Constitutional Freedom. They did so by inverting the concept of limited government. With the exception of Abraham Lincoln, every president from George Washington to TR's predecessor, William McKinley, accepted the truism that the federal government is one of limited powers, and it may only in engage in behavior that is specifically authorized by the Constitution or reasonably inferable therefrom.

Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, who ran against each other and who hated each other, turned this value on its head. They jointly argued that the Constitution does not mean what it says and is not the Supreme Law of the Land as it states. They held that the federal government can do whatever it wishes unless those wishes are expressly prohibited by the Constitution.

For 100 years, the Republican Party resisted the progressive onslaught. As recently as this past election just a few weeks ago, Republicans argued that increased tax revenue, whether from increased tax rates or from decreased tax deductions, effectively moves wealth from the productive sector and delivers it to the consuming sector—which would be the government.

This argument is really one of the basic laws of economics, so why are Republicans now rejecting it? I suspect that they are drunk with power and have concluded that they—just like Obama did—can assure their re-elections, their continued possession of governmental power, if they deliver bigger pieces of the federal pie to the folks back home. Stated differently, they are unwilling to address a system that soon will deliver more in entitlement payments and interest payments on government debt than it collects in revenue by reducing the entitlements, shrinking the government, cutting the debt, returning to the confines of the Constitution and letting hardworking Americans retain what is theirs. Instead, they now want to raise federal taxes.

They would be unwise to try to pull this off—and would be wise to recall recent history. The last Republican president to pledge "Read my lips. NO NEW TAXES" and then violate that promise was dispatched by the voters to a hotel suite in Houston, rather than to four more years in the White House. I bet George Herbert Walker Bush today would stick to his pledge.

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  1. Funny that Republicans are baffled when they get only tepid support from actual conservatives and almost none from libertarians. The GOP stands for nothing.

    1. The only guy who’s done what he said he would do, in terms of taxes and regulations, is Barack Obama. He said he would tax the crap out of us, and he did. He said he would regulate businesses to sink the small ones to the bottom of the ocean, and he did.

      Whether or not the policies were well-thought-out is irrelevant. People support him for the amount of promises kept. I think it’s time the GOP did something like this. At least it would appeal to its voter base. But we won’t see that anytime soon. Not that Democrats aren’t liars, but they’ve got some marketing Kung-Fu that the Republicans don’t. I say we just screw the system entirely.

  2. I want ProL to know that I went on twitter yesterday to say “No, fuck you. Cut spending. #My2k”

    1. said it to whom? @BarackObama? @NancyPelosi? @KimKierkegaard?

    2. Re: the #my2k – that’s the number of dead servicemembers on Obama’s conscience, right? Or is it the number of civilians killed?

      1. The company that made that damn addictive Borderlands 2 game.

        1. How is it, anyway?

  3. George HW Bush after taking office, “No, no, no! I said No nude Texans!”

    1. Wrong. He said, “No Noodle Taxis!” Clearly, this was meant to fend off criticism of his disdain for broccoli.

      1. But aren’t Noodle Taxis the price we pay for civilization?

      2. I thought it was “No neurotaxis”.

        1. Bush the Elder wasn’t very bright either.

          1. Wouldn’t that be phototaxis?

    2. Is that related to Clinton’s, “I did not have sex with relations of that woman.”?

      1. Also a common misconception. Clinton said, “I never, never had sectional chelation with that woman.” Clinton was known to have an interest in chemistry.

        1. Clinton was known to have an interest in chemistry.

          I thought his interests ran more to biology & anatomy.

          1. Perhaps I should correct that to biochemistry. -))) And he’s into chemistry, alright, ifyouknowwhatImeanandIthinkyoudo. -D

            1. i thought he was more into epidemiology – he was investigating the risks of second-hand smoking

              1. That was a convenient afterthought, as he was testing new methods of fluid sample collection for lab. With very sloppy results.

  4. False congressional fiscal conservatives begin to reveal their true selves.

    “Begin?”

  5. What part of ‘all politicians lie’ was hard to understand? Second, fuck you, cut spending, and also fried chicken.

  6. I have described this dreadful time in our history in my new book…

    Thank God. A Reasonoid hasn’t pimped a new book on HyR in days

  7. The Grand (Out of touch, Obsolete, Outdated) Party has lost my vote for good.

    1. Pfft, what are you gonna do, vote demmycrat?

      1. If only there was another party.

  8. No matter what happens, journalists will be sure to inform us that the House of Representatives is to blame.

    1. and therein lies the crux of Repub wobbliness. Unfortunately for them, they fail to grasp the “no matter what happens” part, thinking if they give the appearance of moderating a position, it wins them media brownie points and invites to the cool DC parties. It never does.

      1. They played the ObamaCare thing right. Not a single Repub fingerprint on it. They should do the same with the fiscal cliff deal.

        Make the Dems draft the bill they want. Make a stink about it. Make the Dems totally sell out on it. Don’t ask for any kind of additional entitlement reform or cuts, or you’ll be handing the Dems a big blame stick to beat you with. Go for targeted tax reform that really rapes the Blue States (getting rid of state and local tax deductibility would be perfect. After you get what you can, let it pass the House by one (1) vote, if every Dem votes for it.

        That’s the best they can do. Watch them take the opposite approach.

  9. I bet George Herbert Walker Bush today would stick to his pledge.

    Wrong, I’m afraid, Your Honour. GHWB is on record saying he regrets making that statement more than any other of his candidacy and wishes he never said it. He hated Reaganomics and wanted to raise taxes regardless of what Congress wanted. The only reason he made it was, well, to get elected.

    1. You know who else hated Reaganomics and wanted to get taxes raised…

    2. Correct – HW hated the promise, not the betrayal. I voted for Pete DuPont in the ’88 primary.

    3. Yep. This poor country will never recover from the damage the damn Bush family has inflicted on us.

  10. So why are Republicans now rejecting it?

    Because they’re duplicitous cunts?

    Just a hunch.

  11. My esteemed representative to the Senate, Lindsey Graham (RINO-SC), is one of those Senators. Although in his case I don’t think he ever had any limited government tendencies. I can’t wait to send his ass home.

    1. My esteemed representative to the Senate, Lindsey Graham (RINO-SC)

      Possibly the worst person in Congress.

      1. When Banzan was walking through a market he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer.

        “Give me the best piece of meat you have,” said the customer.

        “Everything in my shop is the best,” replied the butcher. “You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best.”

        At these words Banzan became enlightened.

          1. *** blushes ***

            “A simple Buddhist monk.”

  12. Here’s the thing, though. When I look, I’m seeing a lot of conservatives as incensed about this as libertarians. The only ones who support this are the permanent DC class.

    1. They’re the only ones who matter…

      All the Republican Party has to do is to pretend not to be as enthusiastic as the Democrats and the “lower taxes” crowd will come round to support them.

      The Republicans and Democrats are scam artists par excellance.

      1. There is a spectacular amount of discontent in the ranks of the Republican Party. It will be interesting to see if they manage to destroy the party this time around.

        1. I kind of have the same impression.

      2. In no small part because libertarians are too obsessed with ideological purity to offer them a challenge. Well, either that or they think it’s much more productive to spend their time reaching out to liberals who love Barack Obama’s policies to try to support free enterprise.

  13. at what point does a government run out of taxes? What amount of taxes would satisfy the beast? 50%? 100%? I suppose it depends on how much of a communist socialist progressive one is.

    1. at what point does a government run out of taxes?

      Well, it can raise taxes much more than it has, which won’t necessarily translate into more revenue. My problems is raising taxes on future generations. Taxation without representation. Oppression of the children.

  14. Where are the morning links? Subscription cancelled, money back, damn kids off lawn, etc.

    Also, thanks Epi for the Borderlands-related link last night. Passed that on to a friend who was very appreciative. Looks like I’m going to have to buy the damn game now…

    1. The first game kicks ass. Haven’t gotten the second one yet.

  15. “They would be unwise to try to pull this off?and would be wise to recall recent history.”

    Unfortunately, I think the voters are different than they were at the time of George H. W. Bush’s loss in 1994.

    I haven’t lost my faith in the principles of the Constitution or my faith in entrepreneurial capitalism, but I am losing my faith in the voters to hold our politicians accountable.

    The critical mass that used to vote to hold our politicians accountable just doesn’t do that anymore. They vote for other reasons that have nothing to do with accountability.

    1. Bush lost in ’92.

      Republicans lose whenever they run as moderates and win big as conservatives. They are just too fucking stupid to figure it out.

      1. In regards to ’94, I guess I have either fat fingers or a foggy memory this morning.

        In regards to Bush losing, a lot of that had to do with Perot. Perot was certainly running to the right of Bush on spending and ended up with about 20% of the popular vote. If Bush had stuck to a conservative message on the economy, he’d have won handily. Has anyone else ever fallen from so high in the polls (during Gulf I) to so low so quickly?

        I know that was when I registered as a Libertarian for the first time, I did it to protest Bush breaking his tax pledge.

        Now I think voters will need to see some serious pain from inflation and/or high taxes before they really start holding our politicians responsible for their irresponsible behavior.

        I think a lot of people are voting right now for the same reasons they cheer for their favorite football team, and like with a football team, people don’t start calling for the coach’s head when things are going relatively well.

        It’s when their expectations were high, and they weren’t met–that’s when everybody wants to get rid of Norv Turner or Andy Reid.

        1. I voted for Perot out of anger at Bush for breaking his pledge and trying his best to undo everything Reagan accomplished.

          1. I was a young voter at the time.

            In the Reagan years, I was just a little kid, but I got a hold of Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose”, and I thought that was what Reagan was all about. I went door to door in the DC suburbs telling people about how Reagan was gonna make the country great again.

            I thought “Free to Choose” was what being a Republican was all about, and I kept hoping H.W. would come back to the fold. I voted for H.W. ’cause I thought registering libertarian was a protest, and I knew Friedman was identified with the Libertarians.

            “Free to Choose” anti-tax Republicans against the world–I thought that was the way politics would be for the rest of my lifetime. I was just a kid then, but look how far we’ve fallen.

            1. I thought Reagan / Friedman policies were the future too. HW was a terrible disappointment and just the start of decades of stupidity and disappointment.

              Maybe there is a universe where DuPont or another real conservative was picked by Reagan as VP and succeeded him – and continued with fiscal conservatism. I would love to visit.

  16. Notice how the word “spending” wasn’t included.

    Spending is the problem, whether financed by taxes or borrowing.

    If Republicans don’t want to cut entitlements then let’s hike taxes and make old people pay for them.

    1. Alright, let’s not cut entitlements, and let the young people who have yet to have the opportunity to establish themselves foot the bill.

  17. lol, American politics. Best politics money can buy lol

    http://www.Fake-dat-IP.tk

  18. I thought I’d post this comment here since there isn’t a fiscal cliff thread today:

    I think the Democrats actually have an interest in not making a deal and going over the fiscal cliff.

    First of all, it would cause all the Bush tax cuts to expire, which is what they really want anyway. And they already have a cover story to blame it on Republicans. So they can get away with raising taxes on the middle class while simultaneously presenting themselves as champions of the middle class. It’s perfect.

    Second, if it caused a second recession, they could blame THAT on Repubicans too. And then push for a spending oriented “stimulus” bill to refund some of the programs that got cut.

  19. ” As recently as this past election just a few weeks ago, Republicans argued that increased tax revenue, whether from increased tax rates or from decreased tax deductions, effectively moves wealth from the productive sector and delivers it to the consuming sector”

    And they were wrong the whole time.

    Taxes are not and have never been the issue, it has always been spending. The fact is that the transfer from the “productive” to the “consuming” sector of the economy happens the instant the money is spent, not at the time the tax is paid. All that is left to resolve is how the transfer occurs, will be it in the form of a tax, a redirection if investment capital via Bond sales, or through inflation. The advantage of taxes however is that it makes it abundantly clear to the electorate just how much the government spending costs them, with bond sales and inflation you have to deal with their effects not being immediately or easily visible.

    The most fiscally conservative approach Republicans could take right now would be to very publicly repudiate the Nordquist pledge, admit defeat and agree to any combination of tax increases and spending cuts that the Democrats wish to propose as long as it results in a balanced budget within 4 years and a 50% reduction in the Debt within 20 years.

    Then they can sit back and watch as the Democrats piss everyone off by raising taxes to ridiculous levels and then the people rebel and demand that spending be slashed.

    1. ^^^This X 1,000.

      Whatever Republicans do, they need to make sure that Democrats get the blame that they so rightfully deserve.

      Simply insist on a balanced budget (who can argue with that?), then let them balance it with the massive tax hikes they so dearly want. When all the ill effects come to bear, the electorate will rebel.

      Or we’ll turn into stagnant Western Europe-style economy, which is where we are headed anyway.

      1. Simply insist on a balanced budget (who can argue with that?)

        I’m sure there are some “economists” waiting in the wings to claim permanent levels of unsustainable debt are a good thing.

        Or called for a balanced budget will be called “austerity” and the media hacks will point to Europe and claim all the rioting shows it doesn’t work.

  20. The democrats made promises to both Bush & Reagan administrations to cut spending latter for a tax increase now. If the republicans fall for this a third time then the party is clearly to stupid to be in office and I will never vote for any of them again.

  21. Hate to disagree with the judge, but Americans voted for Obama knowing he would raise taxes. Republicans should lay out the case for lower taxes, less government, and less debt, and then let Obama raise taxes. Americans voted for Obama, and deserve to get him unfiltered.

    1. Republicans should lay out the case for lower taxes, less government, and less debt, and then let Obama raise taxes.

      Republicans are terrible at this though. They need to lay it out in a way that’s personal. I think hitting on the debt is the best thing as the debt means higher taxes in the future to pay it off. This is taxation on ‘the children’ and future generations. We are spending THEIR money on things and in ways they probably would not want us to. We are forcing the future generations that of course have no voice in the matter to pay for our own selfishness and greed. Too many people think money is free. If this does not pursuade people, we are screwed.

  22. Don’t ask for any kind of additional entitlement reform or cuts, or you’ll be handing the Dems a big blame stick to beat you with.IR2110

  23. Abraham Lincoln ended slavery in the whole country, that makes him one of the most important libertarian figures in history.

    1. Yeah, if you don’t count rescinding constitutional rights and killing half a million people against him, he was a pretty fucking swell guy.

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