[personal profile] dmaze
My father and I self-identify on opposite ends of the political spectrum.  This doesn't preclude reasonable political conversations: "here's how the recent T review was a debacle"; "you clearly aren't a Sanders supporter and Trump is a nut job, so which of the 732 Republican candidates do you support?"  It seems like we agree on the fundamentals of how government should work, just not what the priorities should be.  Fundamentally I feel like mainstream politics comes down on one of three positions as far as finances go:

  1. I think government services are important and they need to be paid for, so I'll concede paying higher taxes for them, even if they serve others.

  2. I think low taxes are important, even if they come at the cost of government services, some of which may benefit me.

  3. If we cut taxes, the magic growth fairies will make there still be revenue so that government services can still happen.

I'd expect that the recent Kansas experiment would reveal position #3 to be a fraud: Sam Brownback eliminated income taxes, substituting general sales taxes for some of the difference, but two years later the magic growth fairies hadn't shown up and drastic across-the-board budget cuts (or, heaven forbid, reinstating taxes) were needed to make the state government work at all.  My left-leaning Facebook-derived news tells me this story has been repeated in several other states with nationally prominent Republican governors.  Even so, it doesn't stop them from saying "our platform is to cut taxes, increase military spending, and not touch Social Security or Medicare".  If you've paid any attention to federal government finances, you'll notice that current tax revenues isn't enough to cover the military, Social Security, Medicare, and debt service; kill every other program (even without reducing taxes) and you're still at a deficit.

This is one of the big things that bugs me about the current crop of Republican candidates.  "No taxes ever" can't support an expensive politically untouchable social insurance scheme; it can't support us starting a new war on the other side of the world.  "Cutting taxes leads to higher revenue" seems to be an implied mantra but recent experience seems to have disproven it.  Why cling to it so much when it's counterintuitive and obviously seems to not work?

The answer, of course, is that "you can have your cake and eat it too" gets votes.  The other answer is that, with the exception of the Warren/Sanders wing, the current Democratic party doesn't seem to be standing for much, and opposite a murky establishment Hillary a Republican candidate who Stands For Something starts to look pretty attractive.

I don't really know how you'd convince the populace that balancing the budget is important (even if it means paying higher taxes).  Pushing basic social services and a safety net seems like it should go further (we'll talk about the cost later).  This feels like exactly the thing Ross Perot failed at...and I'm afraid it'll drive the whole country into insolvency.



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