Cal  Thomas

The "grand bargain" agreed to by the White House to preserve the Bush-era tax rates, extend unemployment insurance for another year and reduce the payroll tax for 2011 doesn't get to the heart of the country's main financial problem: overspending.

The Irish were told this week they are going to have to bite the bullet and sharply reduce their expectations of what government can do for them, as it cuts spending and broadens the tax base. But liberal Democrats in the United States remain on a different track: increasing debt and waging nonstop class warfare. Did they miss the message of last month's election?

This is where the self-indulgence of the '60s and the excesses of the modern Gilded Age have led us.

A little background courtesy of Digital History,, a website developed by the University of Houston's College of Education to support the teaching of American history:

It was Mark Twain who referred to the late 19th century as the "Gilded Age" -- glittering on the surface, but corrupt underneath. Still, the era witnessed the birth of modern America. The Western frontier closed, Americans settled 430 million acres in the Far West and the economy transitioned from a largely agrarian society to an industrial one, a shift that transformed the country. Incomes grew rapidly. More people prospered.

"These years also saw the rise of the Populist crusade. Burdened by heavy debts and falling farm prices, many farmers joined the Populist Party, which called for an increase in the amount of money in circulation, government assistance to help farmers repay loans, tariff reductions and a graduated income tax."

Short-term government assistance, taxation and regulation became a monster that has brought dependence on government and an unsustainable debt. It is one thing for government to create a safety net. It is quite another for it to build a hammock.

Penalizing success and those willing to take risks with their capital will mean fewer successful people and less capital. Why do Democrats, especially, seem to hate the successful, when so many of their party leaders are wealthy? Why do only Republicans want to talk about success while Democrats seem more comfortable in the company of failure and dependency?

Cal Thomas

Get Cal Thomas' new book, What Works, at Amazon.

Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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