From Michael Swartz and Monoblogue….
While I’m pleased the Daily Times ran my op-ed yesterday (adding to the original title I use above), it’s sort of a pale pastel of what I originally had in mind. But they wanted me to get it down around 500 words so I complied. Here is the original version I wrote on Tuesday for comparison.
I was a Tea Partier before being one was cool.
For years I’ve believed in the principles of fiscal conservatism and limited government. I seethed just as much when President Bush adopted No Child Left Behind and the budget-busting Medicare Part D as I did when President Clinton vowed to “fix” the welfare reform package he’d just signed because it was too harsh for his progressive base to take. It makes me angry that the federal budget goes up and bureaucracy gets worse year after year regardless of who sits in the Oval Office or runs Congress.
Yet progressives always sneeringly ask those in the Tea Party movement, “what government programs would you cut?” Well, I have my list but others have theirs, too – that’s part of the problem with having a decentralized movement. And I also understand that responsible budget cutting is not expressed in terms of strictly dollars and cents because there needs to be a simultaneous effort at the federal and state levels to eliminate mandates which tie the hands of local government. There’s no simple answer, so we speak in those broad generalities that most of us agree with – limiting government to that which follows the intent of the Constitution as envisioned by our nation’s founders.
Given that setup, I’ll turn the question on its head and ask my friends on the left: how should we achieve the full funding that you desire for all of your pet programs? My home county came up $22 million short of departmental requests on a budget of $113 million while the state of Maryland counts on nearly $400 million of federal grants to patch the hole in its FY2011 budget. Needless to say Uncle Sam is just a wee bit short on funding for what Washington wants to spend.
Usually their answer is to tax the wealthy, so allow me to play this game of “what-if.”
Given that our President is the leader of the free world, one would think his CEO position is the most powerful job one can get. For this he makes a salary of $400,000 annually. (We all know that the perks of free housing, unlimited travel allowances, Secret Service protection, and so forth make the compensation package much more lucrative but the paycheck is still $400,000.) I can just hear the leftists say, “well, since the most powerful guy in the world makes that much no one else should make more. People can earn all they want but after $400,000 we’re going to tax them at a 100% rate.” Okay, done.
Unfortunately, that decision would have severe consequences. Those who have the capital to pay such a punitive tax rate also have the wherewithal to relocate to a financially friendlier port-of-call. Just as we’ve seen in Maryland with a much less comparatively severe “millionaire’s tax,” capital will flee at a rate heretofore unseen. As we’ve proven repeatedly with “sin” taxes, the old adage that to get less of something you tax it will come true – with undesirable results.
Somewhere there is a balance between those services we need government to provide and what we’re willing to pay for them, but to the average Tea Party participant the pendulum has swung too far off center. However, a pendulum can also swing too far in the opposite direction and cutting too much away can bring on its own set of problems – if there were no government at all our society would dissolve into a pit of chaos and anarchy.
By attempting to paint the Tea Party with the same broad brush as anarchists and others of a radical ilk, the progressives project their issues onto our side. Those who rail against Tea Partiers need to realize that we, too, see the world as complex. We know solutions don’t come simply, but we also know that continuing in the same direction will only make the situation worse.
Then again, it was your side who believed in a conceptual and unspecific hope and change during our last national election. Who are the rational ones now?
Michael Swartz is a blogger and political writer who lives near Salisbury. He is a regular contributor of features to the Patriot Post internet newsletter and writes on national issues as a syndicated columnist through Liberty Features Syndicate. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next time I’ll know about how long of a feature to write (slightly shorter than my LFS op-eds) so don’t be surprised if you see these things more often.