Tax and Spending Aren’t Separate Issues
David Leonhardt and Ezra Klein had a smart article and responding blog post today about how the debate in Washington is being skewed, fueled in part by the anti-tax movement (typified by an intellectually vacant Republican Party and the attention-grabbing but ultimately pointless tea parties being held this week).
Basically, our debate over taxes and over spending have been decoupled from each other. This allows us to have record deficits without the political will necessary to correct for them (because Democrats won’t cut spending and Republicans won’t raise taxes, but both need to be done).
Yet, and this is a point made on Hardball tonight, just twenty years ago, the very rich had higher tax rates that were set to impact very few people (because we had many more tax brackets back then). So many of the tax cuts over the years have gone to people who don’t need it, while the spending that many poor people depend on is increasingly at the risk of being yanked away because of record national debt.
One thing that keeps me out of politics in real life in the lack of sincerity in the policy debates when it comes to matters of national interest as opposed to partisan or parochial interests. The Klein article is a good reflection of what we’ve done wrong and one of the ways we can fix it – by using the Walmart example (you might not want to spend $50 at Macy’s for one shirt, but you may be willing to go to Walmart to spend $40 on a shirt and jeans – why can’t we talk like that about our policy choices?).