Democrats want tax increases in any debt deal, and, due to pledges to not raise taxes and ideological fealty, republicans do not want them.
This is why the debt super committee failed. It’s really that simple. Democrats wanted tax increases, republicans didn’t, so it deadlocked and failed. There — I just saved the world hours and hours of analysis.
But my issue with this goes deeper. Democrats are always looking for pro-tax republicans. There are many of them at local levels, and these republicans become more anti-tax as they climb the ladder to please national activists. But the problem is that democrats do not look forward to these ideological bridges when they come to them — instead, they oppose them.
Here’s an example: In 2010, republican Richard Hanna ran for Congress. He was one of the few GOP House candidates who did not sign the tax pledge. I would actually consider this a good development. As a liberal who supports higher tax rates on all groups, I find this concession welcoming.
Despite not running in the Rochester area, I still saw several of his democratic opponent’s attack ads here in Rochester. They talked about how Hanna wants higher taxes. They called him “High-Tax Hanna,” a name I still find catchy. Hanna still won, and as of now still has not signed the pledge, but I find the attack insulting.
Democrats cannot desperately search for republicans willing to raise taxes and attack those who do for supporting the position. Yes, I know that attack ads work and everything, but this is part of why Grover Norquist, the conservative activist who created this anti-tax pledge, wants republicans to take them.
Aside from his ideological goal of shrinking government by taking away its power to tax, he believes that republicans must protect a “brand” of never raising taxes and to prevent democrats from using tax increases as a weapon against republicans. After all, if you never vote for a tax increase, you cannot be truthfully attacked for doing so. So doing this only proves Norquist right, which is exactly what they should not do.
Democrats cannot possibly get their dream of a pro-tax republican if they also attack them for doing so. It is the equivalent of if you said to a child, “You won’t get in trouble if you tell me the truth.” The child tells the truth, but he is punished anyway. Republicans have enough trouble from Norquist and other anti-tax activists if they vote for a tax increase. Adding on attacks from the democrats only deters them more from even considering such a position.
If democrats want more pro-tax republicans, they must foster them, not chase them away. Look, republicans don’t want higher taxes on anybody, while democrats only want taxes raised on the rich. I would like republicans to be less ideological on this issue, but I cannot foresee that happening right now, so I’ll focus on my party.
Democrats must shake that “only the rich” thing off. We need higher tax rates on everybody. Not right now, when the economy is not super strong, but we must raise rates someday.
Now, forgive me if I sound like a conservative here, but the rich are not the country’s piggy bank. Yes, you may feel like they should contribute more in taxes, but that’s another issue. It’s important to remember that the rich already pay a lot in taxes, and, although having them pay more is not an issue to me, you must remember that rich people do not necessarily pay lower taxes proportionally than the middle and lower classes.
When a republican is for raising taxes of any kind, democrats should grab him and never let go. But this will not happen if democrats keep such a tight ship on what taxes should be raised and try to stop republicans from being more open to taxes.
Dawidowicz is a member of
the class of 2012.