Friday, May 28, 2004
Tax & Spend versus Spend and spend and spend and spend....
It has been obvious since Reagan's time that the classic definitions of "liberal" and "conservative" have no real meaning in American politics. Even as compared to recent history, the definitions are shifting. A few years ago, a political conservative would have been expected to be a fiscal conservative - concerned with the growth of the government, fiscal responsibility, and balanced budgets. Now, thanks to G.W. Bush, we have a new definition of "conservative" which scoffs at the notion of restrained spending, balanced budgets, and governmental bloat. While this new brand of "conservative" still uses the tired cliche of the "tax and spend Democrat", this new "conservative" can perhaps be fairly described as the "spend and spend and spend and spend and spend and spend Republican".
So is the objection of the "GW Bush Conservative" that Democrats are too fiscally responsible? They are too focused on raising revenue before spending the nation into an oblivion of oversized deficits? Or is the objection that the Democrats spend on the "wrong things" - that, rather than offering staggering subsidies to corporate interests and engaging in a huge military build-up, the Democrats want to spend money to improve America for the average, and even the disadvantaged, American? Increasingly, I think the objection is both: The "GW Bush Conservative" wants to see a tax policy that puts pretty much the entire burden of financing the nation and the servicing of the exploding national debt on the working masses, but wants a spending policy which almost exclusively favors the wealthiest Americans and the largest corporate interests.
As he complains about "income taxes", why doesn't Bush want to address payroll taxes, and the absurd double- and triple- taxation of the wages of working men and women? Why doesn't Bush want to address the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), which will soon rake back most or all of the meager tax benefit his "reforms" have provided to the working masses? It isn't Bush's fault, I suppose, that so many wage earners are ignorant of what the term "income tax" means, don't know the difference between "income tax" and "payroll tax", and have never heard of the AMT - a lot of the fault for that lies with the media's abysmal coverage of these issues - but he certainly takes advantage of their ignorance in pitching "tax reforms" that overwhelmingly favor the rich, while refusing to even consider reforms which would truly benefit the working masses.