Now the clarifying gods have delivered a gift for the November election, the fight over taxes. Somewhere, George W. Bush must be laughing. Amid 9.5% unemployment, Democrats must deal with the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. They are trying to thread this needle by pushing a "middle class" extension through the hole, while impaling "the rich" on a tax spike.The GOP needs to grab this moment to make clear what their vision of the economy should be.
In normal times, this tactic might work. But normal times are long past for America, and the voters know it. Mr. Obama himself talks all the time about the end of "business as usual." In the interests of the nation's future, Mr. Obama argues, the public economy needs to get bigger and stay bigger—currently 25% of GDP.
A big change indeed—unless the electorate decides this isn't what it wants for the next 50 years. That's another choice.
This election and these times are a chance to put to the voters opposed visions of why we work and what we do with the money we earn.When it is a time for choosing, it is the responsibility of both sides to clarify the choice.
If voters ultimately feel more secure with a Barack Obama and the like designing a national itinerary for some 300 million people in 50 states, then certainly one should vote for letting taxes rise now on one class of Americans and imposing a VAT next year on everyone. They need a whole lot of money, so give it to them to the horizon. We work, they decide.
The alternative vision is that to compete for the next 50 years, the U.S. is going to need a tax structure that keeps more of the nation's decisions about using its wealth in the hands—and minds—of millions of intelligent citizens, from any economic class. They work, they decide.
So: Extend the current tax rates for all and free everyone in an economy begging for the chance to be strong again. Yes, the U.S. economy will always be "strong," but it needs to be strong enough to take on all comers and win, which last time I looked was the real American way.
As a visual aid in clarifying that choice, people can look at this chart of how ObamaCare will work that the House Republicans have put out.Now that's a choice the Republicans should be happy to run on. William Voegeli enunciates the principles that conservatives can put forth as undergirding their vision of this nation.
C. S. Lewis wrote that since progress means getting closer to your goal, when you’ve taken a wrong turn and are getting farther and farther from your destination, the truly “progressive” response is to turn around and go back to the right road. Most conservatives believe that America took a wrong turn in 1932, one that has led us farther away from the goal of preserving and strengthening republican self-government. Self-styled progressives talked us into that navigational error, and in the subsequent 78 years their liberal disciples have continued on the wrong road, superintending a rolling regime change that has steadily hollowed out our constitutional republic and replaced it with an administrative state, one increasingly indifferent to ordinary citizens’ concerns and insulated from their opposition.
The conservatives now reviving constitutionalism are rightly insistent on the need to retrace our steps, and to undo the mistakes that have supplanted limited with unlimited government. The point is not to go back to 1932 and stay there, compiling a list of things government cannot do and problems it cannot address. The point, rather, is to resume progress on the road not taken: toward a government that is both limited and vigorous, scrupulous about upholding the principles of republicanism but energetic and prudent about working within the framework created by those principles to respond to economic and social changes with policies that advance the people’s prosperity and security.