Brian Birdnow

The New Year, 2011, opened last week and in Washington D.C. the Republican Party celebrated the beginning of the new annum and the new decade by watching John Boehner, one of their own, take the oath of office as Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Democrats glumly conceded the Speakership to the GOP, but consoled themselves somewhat with the knowledge that they still control the Senate, the Presidency, and most importantly, the permanent government workforce, the federal bureaucracy. In any event, the ringmasters in Washington (of each Party) are dancing on the edge of a volcano. The federal deficit is projected to reach 2 trillion dollars this year, which is even more than the deficit for fiscal year 2010. The new financial stewards in Washington will be forced to address this gap by creating what the economists euphemistically refer to as “new revenue streams”, i.e. higher taxes.

The most perplexing and politically perilous question is this: Where will this revenue be raised? Certainly, an increase the individual federal income tax will be a hard sell at the present time. The U.S. Government collected $953 billion dollars in individual income taxes in 2009. This is a staggering amount of money and the citizenry will balk at paying more. Our corporate taxes are already higher than most of the developed world, and raising taxes on businesses during an economic recession would be simply foolhardy, although most of the Democrats would do this if they could. Instead of one of these stark alternatives, why not impose a tax on those who got us into this mess in the first place? How about a tax on liberalism?

A tax on liberalism would be simple, practical, appropriate, and great fun! In 2008 approximately 70,000,000 Americans voted for the leftwing candidates, namely Barack Obama of the Democrats, Cynthia McKinney of the Greens, and Independent candidate Ralph Nader. Each of these nominees spoke earnestly of the need to strongly increase federal spending and to restructure the USA along European Social Democratic lines. Candidate Obama, for instance, never denied that he would ramp up federal spending exponentially, although he remained purposefully vague about how he planned to finance this new spending spree. Now the bills are coming due, and if the liberals have the courage of their convictions, they should volunteer to pay for their long-sought expansion of government.

Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.