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Monday, November 21, 2011

Panel’s failure shifts debt fight to Bush tax cuts

The imminent failure of the congressional deficit “supercommittee,” which had a chance to settle the nation’s tax policy for the next decade, would thrust the much-contested Bush tax cuts into the forefront of next year’s presidential campaign.

Those tax changes have repeatedly provoked fiery partisan debate since they were enacted during President George W. Bush’s first term. Now, with the cuts due to expire at the end of 2012 and their fate left unresolved by the supercommittee, both parties are already positioning themselves to exploit the issue for maximum electoral advantage.
Read the rest here.

They should never have been passed in the first place.

11 comments:

Stephen said...

Nonsense. Taxation, like government, is a necessary evil, at best a concession to a fallen world. The onus rests always and forever on those who would tax to justify the rationale for a tax. To indulge in taxation is to give oneself and society over to corruption, because confiscation of wealth by government always is ultimately at the point of a gun. It's always and everywhere about power, and the only moral thing that never has to be justified is to limit that power.

There are those who say that the accumulation of wealth is by necessity corrupting; this of course cannot be proved, but the illegal or immoral accumulation is different than legal and moral accumulation. Further, even if any accumulation of wealth is corrupting, it is only in the same league as taxation if it has the full weight and force of the government behind it, which is what you find in fascism or communism.

Would love to hear your counters John, but I truly think your are off the mark in principle here.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Stephen,
Do you believe that the government should be funded by voluntary contributions? Maybe we should have a charity telethon for the fire department or the Marine Corps? Your post has a more than a slight ring of anarchism to it. Reasonable people can debate what our taxes are used for. I do not believe that reasonable people can argue that the government should have no power to raise revenue.

The fact is that when G W Bush took office this country was still in debt by trillions of dollars. The idea of cutting taxes while drastically increasing spending is outrageous and immoral. It has left our country near bankrupt and beggared an entire generation. We can reduce taxes when we have paid off the debt.

Bush acted like the man up to his neck in red ink with maxed out credit cards who got a small raise and went off to Best Buy to shop for a brand new flat screen TV.

I don't like what we have gone into debt for. Military adventurism and welfare for billionaires disgusts me. But that has no bearing on the facts. We are near broke. And we are honour bound to pay our creditors. There is no realistic way to do that by spending cuts alone.

Stephen said...

John, of course government can't be funded by voluntary contributions. But that doesn't mean that taxation is an unmitigated good, does it? By definition, it comes by force, and if you think that is anachronistic, then just give me your money and save the hassle.

Also, you know quite well that creating the debt has been a bi-partisan exercise, be it for military adverturism or crony capitalism. So I just don't understand why the only moral imperative isn't to simply starve the beast?

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Stephen,
But that doesn't mean that taxation is an unmitigated good, does it?

I never suggested that it was. Your original post however strongly suggested to me that you view taxation as an unmitigated evil.

By definition, it comes by force, and if you think that is anachronistic, then just give me your money and save the hassle.

A government that lacks any power of compulsion is not a government at all. Again this sounds very much like anarchist rhetoric to me.

Also, you know quite well that creating the debt has been a bi-partisan exercise, be it for military adverturism or crony capitalism.

Indeed I do. But what is under discussion here is George Bush's contribution to the debt, namely his unfunded tax cuts.

So I just don't understand why the only moral imperative isn't to simply starve the beast?

That depends on how you define starve the beast. I have spent a lot of time looking at the numbers and I don't see any realistic way to balance the budget, much less put a dent in the national debt, without raising taxes. That said I am all for draconian spending cuts. Cut what you will. But no more debt. Not one dime in tax cuts until the debt is paid off in full.

While I find taxes distasteful they are not inherently evil. Debt is. "DEBT" is a four letter word, no variation on the word "TAX works out that way.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

I will also briefly add that there is a "moral imperative" here. And that is to pay back the money we as a country have borrowed either from our own people or foreigners. That "moral imperative" supersedes any other consideration save the security of the country.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Do you believe that the government should be funded by voluntary contributions?

I absolutely do. And if you're worried that won't suffice to justify your standing army and wars for democracy, then you can make up the difference yourself.

The idea of cutting taxes while drastically increasing spending is outrageous and immoral. It has left our country near bankrupt and beggared an entire generation. We can reduce taxes when we have paid off the debt.

It is the debt itself that is immoral. It is nothing less than current voters stealing wealth from their own children and the unborn. The debt should be repudiated. To the extent "we" are bankrupt, it is only because of the government's multi-TRILLION dollar footprint in the capital markets.

There are plenty of taxes--we work almost half the year to satisfy the government's tax burden. It is the government and the net tax consumers who must learn to live within the means of a society whose compassion has been sorely abused.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

AG
Anarchism sounds nice in some quarters as a theory. In the rel world though it doesn't work.

The Anti-Gnostic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Anti-Gnostic said...

You are the only one talking about anarchy. Civil society is not dependent on confiscatory levels of taxation, or even compulsory taxation. In fact, the society becomes increasingly uncivil.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Civil society is not dependent on confiscatory levels of taxation, or even compulsory taxation.

I do not agree. A civil society DOES require a functional government. And a government that lacks even the power to raise revenue is no government at all. You decry the power of compulsion. But on some level a viable state must have the power to compel obedience to public laws. Otherwise you are once again back to anarchy, where everyone does what they want.

Radical libertarians get very irritated when they are told that they are generally no more than a half step removed from being anarchists. But it true all the same.

We must not allow ourselves to be lulled into this crazy idea that all will be right if we can just get ourselves back to some mythical utopian system that existed under the Articles of Confederation or other silliness. The truth is that we would fall apart and be quickly devoured by predatory states, or worse wind up in a ceaseless series of civil wars between the various states, which to be viable would still have to have the power to govern.

The real world is not very idealistic.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

It's not truth. It's your hysterical prognostication. The US has been in a state of permanent war since at least 1941. Its southwestern states are all but conquered with citizens regularly harassed by foreign nationals. Very soon, the kidnappings in Phoenix will extend across tribal lines. Tell me again why I'm morally obligated to pay taxes to a government that doesn't defend the nation and thinks anybody can be a citizen?

Compulsory taxation is a one way ratchet to increasingly centralized and, ironically, bankrupt government. In the end, the imperium devolves into its constituent nations.