Conservatives and Taxes


I was asked today by a Conservative friend what my perspective on taxes was. Since I want universal health coverage for everyone, for example, which clearly was going to cost us more money – I must be arguing for higher taxes as well… I answered him on a Facebook thread, but I thought that my answer might foster some good discussion to my broader audience as well.

First of all – for my conservative readers, I think the conservative view in theory is great: Smaller and less intrusive government. Being effective where it is absolutely necessary and chartered, and small or non-existent in areas where it is not. Is that a fair description?

But I think what Conservatism has become in the past several decades is decidedly different. For example – let’s propose a scenario:

1. Let’s cut the government spending in several areas (you can pick your own, but these would be the obvious areas where I’d start). Click the links for more detail and facts to back up the significance of each of these:
Legalize Marijuana
Cut Military spending
Replace Obamacare with a Single-Payer healthcare system

2. Now with this lower level of Federal spending, let’s also lower taxes to exceed this lower cost basis only by a certain percentage – let’s say 10%

3. Now let’s take this lower tax burden and spread it over everyone EVENLY – taxing all income (earned and otherwise) at a rate that will produce the necessary revenue for the figure in #2. None other than Tea Partier Dick Armey has estimated that this tax rate would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 17% just to be revenue neutral with what we spend TODAY, with the lower spending we achieved in point #1 above, it would even be less. (

4. Take the additional 10% surplus generated in #3 and begin paying down our obscene level of national debt.

Now – you might disagree with my spending reductions above and that’s fine. We can debate what needs to be cut, but everyone reading this probably agrees that things can and should be cut, correct?

In my scenario, we’ve done the following: cut Federal total spending, increased individual liberty, provided health-care to everyone, paid down our debt, and lowered EVERYONE’s tax rates – except for those paying LESS than 17% now, which ironically is only the super-rich.

The problem with my scenario is that the first argument I will get from most conservatives (other than challenging what I said needed to be cut – obviously we can debate that) is the following:

I just raised Mitt Romney’s taxes ( by 21% (3 points higher than his current rate of 14%) and that just doesn’t seem fair. Conservatives will continue to say this even when they realize the vast majority of them just got a 60% tax cut (28% down to 17%).

And THAT’S the problem with the so-called “conservative” movement today, IMHO.

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