Brian Birdnow

Last week the inside pages of the daily newspapers mentioned something that should alarm every American taxpayer. The little noted expiration of the two year old payroll tax break of 2011-12, and the consequent increase of the Social Security payroll tax from 4.2% of wages paid to 6.2% of wages paid became effective on New Years Day, 2013. The roughly 140 million Americans on corporate payrolls will see their take-home pay shrink commensurate with their income. Those earners at the poverty level will see a $ 234.00 yearly tax increase, while those in the highest income bracket subject to the tax will see a yearly increase of $ 2,425. (Your humble TH correspondent has been told to expect an increase of $720-750.00) So, lost in all of the tumult and shouting over the “fiscal cliff”, and President Obama’s insistence that his tax increase will only penalize the wealthy, we have a stealth tax increase that hits every wage earner in the USA, including the poorest.

How did the financial sector react to this news? Early last week the economists at JP Morgan, Chase & Co. lowered their forecasts for first quarter economic growth to an anemic 1% down from a hardly robust 1.5%. This fact escaped the notice of commentators who trumpeted the news that the Dow Jones, NASDAQ, and S&P 500 averages ticked upward after the resolution of the fiscal cliff melodrama.

Regardless of these developments this nation is still dancing on the edge of a volcano, not a fiscal cliff. The two parties have begun preliminary skirmishing in the debt limit battle, and the hapless GOP appears set to be out maneuvered by Barack the Audacious and his media allies once again. Despite the new tax increases the deficit will easily top a trillion dollars for the fourth consecutive year as Obama has added more to the national debt than all of his predecessors combined.

The new health care bill, the President’s signature achievement, is growing in cost estimates, with current Medicare actuarial estimates placing the program’s expense at $180 billion, which is three times the $60 billion that Obama and the Democrats claimed in 2009-10. Health care spending in America totals 16% of the Gross Domestic Product, and is the highest in the world, yet it is projected to rise to 24% once Obamacare is fully implemented.

Where will the money needed to finance this explosion of government be found? The federal government collected over a trillion dollars in individual income taxes in 2011. The increase in the top rates to 39.6% should bring in more money, provided that the “rich” don’t all stop working and take early retirement. Still, the extra $50 billion or so that the new rates generate will not make a dent in the deficit. Our corporate tax rate of 35% is among the highest in the developed world, and the Obama Administration is planning to hike the capital gains tax, regardless of the adverse impact on small businesses still fighting the Great Recession. The bills for the Obama spending spree are coming due, and some in official Washington are starting to worry.

Two years ago, January 11, 2011 this author, in these pages, suggested the nation could solve its fiscal problems by imposing a tax on those who got us into this mess in the first place. The suggestion was that the nation should impose a tax on liberalism. Given the developments of the last two years, we call, once more, for a tax on liberalism. The specifics of this plan would be simple, straightforward, and a whole lot of fun! It would work in this fashion: In the 2012 election nearly 67 million Americans voted for liberal candidates, who promised to significantly ramp up government spending. Slightly fewer than 66 million voted to re-elect the President, Green Party candidate Julie Stein garnered 468,000 votes, the Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson totaled 411,006 votes, and, on the lunatic fringe the Peace and Freedom Party candidate, the demented former television actress Roseanne Barr managed to pull 67,359 votes. The total vote for left-liberal candidates was 66,846,932.

This list is somewhat fluid. Certainly, some of the 1.2 million who voted for the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson reside on the Left but we won’t count them as such since the Libertarians generally call for restraint in public expenditure. Those self-described conservatives who voted for Obama, confirming P.T. Barnum’s dictum will be counted as liberals. Since the liberal candidates promised to greatly increase government spending it is time to see whether the liberal voters have the courage of their convictions, and are ready to pay the bills they foisted off on the country when they cast their votes on November 6, 2012.

There is a great gap in this world between what should be, and what will be, so we cannot count on the liberals to willingly clean up the mess they have created since 2009. We must instead place a tax on the 67,000,000 Americans’ who voted left-wing in 2012. It is very easy to spend someone else’s money. Now we’ll see if the big spenders are willing to give up some of their own. If we placed a largely symbolic head tax of one dollar a year on each liberal voter we would raise a paltry $67 million. A ten-dollar per year tax would bring in $670 million and a $100 dollar levy would net $6.7 billion. Now we are moving in the right direction.

If we place a $1000 per person, per year tax on liberalism we would bring in $67 billion to the U.S. Treasury every spring. If we impose a $10,000 dollar yearly penalty on liberalism it would produce $670 billion and a $20,000 dollar yearly charge would bring in $1.34 trillion dollars. So, a $25,000 per year surcharge on liberal voters would net the IRS roughly 1.69 trillion dollars. There is the solution to our problem! The deficit is magically gone, and now we can get to work paying down the national debt.

Those readers who are constitution buffs, and I’m sure many Townhall readers are, would rightly protest that the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution (Amendment XIV, Section One) prohibits this type of discriminatory treatment of U.S. citizens. We can respond that the blatant disregard for the constitution demonstrated by this administration regarding taxes & spending, taking of private property, border security, traditional marriage, and now the Second Amendment forces extreme measures on the rest of us. In response to readers who would invoke the Roman ideal of shared sacrifice by all free citizens in the governance of the republic we may freely respond that we non-liberals are already sharing sacrifice in the form of higher payroll taxes since January 1st.

Obviously, the ideas presented above will never become law, and the piece itself is semi-satirical. The purpose of this column remains the same as the original column of two years ago. The Obama Administration has burned through $15 trillion dollars in four years. They have no idea how to repay this sum, much less to finance all of the grandiose spending sprees coming down the pike, far better to avoid any serious discussion of the problems last campaign season and concentrate on bogus issues like “The War on Women” and other imbecilities.

In contrast to the original work of two years ago the overall political picture is even grimmer. The GOP seems utterly adrift, rudderless in the storm. The 2011-12 House of Representatives seemed determined to get a grip on spending and the budget, but the 2013 majority seems shell-shocked by the election results. Many can see a calamity lurking just ahead, but no one wants to deal with this in a serious fashion. (Has anyone heard from Paul Ryan lately?) The 62 million Americans who voted conservative in last year’s election are hoping for a miracle. Since we cannot plan on a miracle we would simply settle for some conservative leadership.


Brian Birdnow

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