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.

There is a great gap in this world between what should be, and what will be, so we won’t count on the liberals to ante up the funds to pay for the explosion of government over the last two years. We must, instead, place a tax on all 70,000,000 Americans who voted leftwing in 2008. (Those conservative suckers who voted for Obama, and confirmed P.T. Barnum’s dictum, will be counted as liberals!) The question is: How much do we tax people for the privilege of being liberals? Let’s see here: 70,000,000 people paying an extra dollar each year would raise an extra $70 million. That is mere chump change these days. If we tax the liberals at ten dollars apiece, we would gain $700 million, $100 dollars per person would net $7 billion dollars. Now, we are starting to talk about real money, to paraphrase the late Senator Everett Dirksen.

If we assess a $1000 per person tax on liberal voters this would bring an extra $70 billion to the Treasury Department. Likewise, if we assess a $10,000 yearly surcharge on liberals that would fetch us roughly $700 billion dollars…considerably less than the misbegotten stimulus plan of 2009. Finally, if we should impose a $20,000 per year tax on liberal voters we would add $1.4 trillion dollars to our yearly revenues. That amount would not eliminate the deficit, but at least we would be heading in the right direction.

Now, at this point, all of the Townhall readers will raise a familiar protest. The equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution (Amendment XIV, Section One) prohibits this type of differential treatment of the American citizenry. In response to such a charge we can repeat ex-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s now infamous remark to those who raised constitutional objections to the Health Care Bill last winter. “You gotta be kidding? Right?”

Obviously, the ideas presented above are satirical. The title of this piece, borrowing freely from Jonathan Swift, is a sure indicator of the nature of the work. The purpose of this piece is to illustrate the magnitude of the financial crisis, which we now face. The Obama Administration has burned through nearly eight trillion dollars in two years. They have no idea how to repay that sum of money, much less how to finance the new extravagances the Administration constantly proposes. This piece also highlights the liberal disdain for the U.S. Constitution and the restraints the document places on governmental adventurism.

The good news in this grim picture is that many people are now waking up to the problem. The GOP House members’ insistence on reading the Constitution in its entirety on Thursday has driven many MSNBC folks to distraction, but it might be a hopeful sign of things to come. The new majority also seems determined to get a grip on the federal budget. Certainly, people are becoming aware of the financial catastrophe looming just ahead. Let us all pray that we’re not following the example of the watch officers on the RMS Titanic, and that we did not see the danger ahead until it was too late!

Brian Birdnow

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