Why Republicans are right to draw the line on taxes

(Centennial Fellow) The culture of Washington is one of compromise. Go along. Get along. Get something done—good, bad or otherwise.

Sometimes compromise is necessary. When the levers of power are divided, reality dictates two choices: live with the status quo or do some “horse trading” in order to make changes that are marginally better.

When Republicans in Congress compromised on the so–called fiscal cliff, they acknowledged that Barack Obama won re–election, in part, by campaigning on the idea of raising taxes on “the rich.”

Republicans fared remarkably well on that compromise. By conceding a tax increase on those who make more than $400,000 a year, Republicans secured most of the 2003 income tax cuts that otherwise would have expired.

That brings us to the dreaded “sequester,” which President Obama’s White House concocted but now wants to disavow. As president, Obama presides over annual deficits of more than $1 trillion—borrowing 30 cents of every dollar spent—but suggests that to cut a mere $85 billion (just over two percent) from a $3.7 trillion budget would result in calamity.

If calamity does result, it will be Obama’s choosing.

As a grandstanding senator, Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling when George W. Bush was president, calling it “a sign of failed leadership” and “a signed that the U.S. government can’t pay its own bills.”

Now that he’s increased federal spending by 25 percent, Obama claims, “We don’t have a spending problem.”

Meanwhile, Speaker John Boehner has wisely drawn a line in the sand by declaring there will be no more tax hikes: “The president got his tax hikes. The issue here is spending. Spending is out of control.”

In this case, Republicans have the high ground and must defend it because taxation—particularly excessive taxation—is little more than legalized theft. Americans do not object to being taxed at reasonable rates for essential services, but excessive taxation is an abuse of government power and an infringement on our individual rights.

Today the federal government spends an average of $12,000 for every man, woman and child in America, so surely we are paying for more than enough government by any reasonable standard.

For every dollar the federal government spends on essential services, like national defense, it spends more than three dollars on various entitlement programs and transfer payments. The federal government has become the nation’s largest and most inefficient “charity.”

Turning government into a charitable leviathan robs the giver of the choice to be charitable and removes from the recipient the opportunity to be grateful to those who voluntarily offer a helping hand.

Consider this: If I’m about to lose my home to foreclosure and you choose to pay to make my mortgage current, I am grateful to you because I know it cost you something. But if government takes money from you, dumps it into the general fund with everyone else’s and then says I’m eligible for a government program to avoid foreclosure, I have no one to express my gratitude to except politicians, who deserve it least of all because they were “generous” with other people’s money. Worse, as a recipient of government largesse, I am now likely to expect government help in the future, so charity is transformed into an entitlement.

Taxation for charitable purposes is little more than legalized theft—no matter how noble or popular it seems. If a mob robs you at gunpoint and gives your money to charity, how is that different than a majority of voters raising your taxes to support a government–run charity?

Republicans are right to defend the essential right of hard–working Americans to keep the fruits of our labor and to spend them as we choose, whether to support our family, build a business, or provide genuine charity for others.

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