Paul L. Caron

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tax Ben Stein's Money

Sunday New York Times op-ed:  A Familiar Tax Tune, but It’s Not Mine, by Ben Stein:

A few days ago, I saw Senator John McCain on television saying something I had heard a few times before. Basically, he said that if you want to have your taxes raised, don’t vote for him.

Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of Senator McCain. He’s got guts. He had a harrowing five years in captivity for his country. His son serves in Iraq and the senator never talks about it.

And, I do not want my taxes raised. I already pay a staggering amount of tax and I don’t care for it. In fact, I would like to pay no tax at all. I could have so much more to prepare for onrushing old age.

But the unhappy fact is that it’s necessary to raise my taxes and the taxes of all upper-income Americans. (I do wish, however, that “upper income” started just a dollar above me.)

The sad truth of the last two two-term Republican presidents is that their economic premise, the key part of their economic game plan, simply has not done what it’s supposed to do.

That is, cutting taxes, especially on upper-income Americans, does not generate so much economic activity that it replaces all the lost IRS take and then some. At least those have been the results so far.

But if you want to have a military buildup — and we need one now, desperately — that’s usually a reason to raise taxes, not cut them.

Under the current president, we have had the same story. As income tax receipts fell, military and other spending rose rapidly. Again, this spending was justified as far as I’m concerned. But we have been left with immense deficits and a doubled national debt as President Bush enters his final months in office. ...

I don’t like taxing rich people or anyone I like. But our government — run by the people we elected — needs the revenue. Do we pay it or do we make our children pay it? Dwight D. Eisenhower — and Bill Clinton — knew the answer: You behave responsibly and balance the budget except in rare circumstances.

Somehow, Republicans (and I am a Republican) have forgotten this basic lesson of adulthood. Maybe Senator McCain is grown up enough to remind us of the real urgency of personal and national responsibility. Or maybe not.

Update: I was quite proud of my title, but Neil Buchanan (George Washington) let me know that he beat me to the punch two years ago!

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