Yesterday, when I wrote my little piece about Hillary Clinton and her “words of wisdom,” I quoted one statement by her. “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”
A few people questioned the veracity of that and the other quotes, and that was a fair cop. I neglected to cite my sources, and I should have. But more importantly, that particular quote needs a fuller context, because it got me thinking.
On 28 June 2004, New York senator Hillary Clinton appeared at a San Francisco fund-raising event for California senator Barbara Boxer, where she explained that Democrats hoped to overturn tax cuts enacted by the Bush administration:
Headlining an appearance with other Democratic women senators on behalf of Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is up for re-election this year, Hillary Clinton told several hundred supporters — some of whom had ponied up as much as $10,000 to attend — to expect to lose some of the tax cuts passed by President Bush if Democrats win the White House and control of Congress.
“Many of you are well enough off that … the tax cuts may have helped you,” Sen. Clinton said. “We’re saying that for America to get back on track, we’re probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was an insight into her way of thinking — and a lot of Democrats — on the issue of taxation.
To these people, tax cuts are temporary, transient. “Bush’s tax cuts,” to them, came with an expiration date, and their repealing is simply a return to “normal” levels of taxation.
Conversely, tax hikes are permanent and immutable. A hike in taxes is a simple changing of the norm.
This is the mentality of big government, and Hillary is a champion of that movement.
Want proof? Look at the telephone tax refunds going out now. That tax was instituted as a “temporary” measure to help pay for the Spanish-American War. I doubt not a single person alive remembers that conflict, but we continued to pay that “temporary” tax for well over a century.
To big government, there is no such thing as a “temporary” tax, or even a “temporary” tax hike. Every increase in taxation levels is simply setting the new standard level.
I happen to think the other way. In an ideal world, I’d like the government to periodically set the tax rates to zero across the board, then raise them to meet needs. Lawmakers would have to publicly debate and justify every fraction of a percent they hike it, in full public scrutiny. It would be a natural expansion of “zero-based budgeting.”
Alternately, every tax hike passed could come with an automatic expiration date. Congress would have to renew each and every single tax on a regular basis, or they would go away.
More fundamentally, I’d like to see a change in mentality. I’d like to see people stop thinking of the “Bush tax cuts.” Right now, they’re being labelled as such for two purposes. For one, it ties them into Bush’s own poor current popularity. For another, and more subtly, it implies that they will only last as long as his own administration. They will be treated as part and parcel of his administration, and to repeal them (or let them expire) as he leaves office makes the resulting tax hike a smidgen more palatable for those who don’t think things through.
I’m a bit of a math geek, and every now and then I find it instructive to apply simple math to political issues. For example, in affirmative action cases involving college admissions, being a member of a minority group is worth so many “points” towards getting in. I suggest instead of giving the minority more points, deduct points from non-minorities. If being a black woman is worth thirty points, then leave her application alone and deduct thirty points from white males. In the end, the result is the same, so why not do it that way?
In this case, it’s a matter of reducing the argument to bare bones. Every single change in tax rates should be considered permanent. This isn’t that big a change. As shown above, the big government ninnies already think of all tax hikes as permanent, regardless of what they say to get them passed; this is just extending the same consideration to tax cuts.
Therefore, if you pay a higher rate this year over last, it’s a tax hike. It doesn’t matter if they call it a “tax cut repeal” or “rate adjustment” or “revenue enhancement” or any of a thousand other weasel-worded excuses, it’s a raise in taxes and should be considered as such.
But that’ll never fly. It’s too honest. It’s too accurate. And that’s anathema to Big Government and its advocates like Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.