Welfare would no longer be only for the poor - the majority of the voters would depend on government handouts. This very system is what makes European social democracies so resistant to change.
In 1980, the bottom 50 percent of the nation paid 7 percent of the national tax bill, after refund and credits. It now pays 3 percent; under Obama's plan, it would pay less than nothing (that is, it would net a profit from the IRS). In 1980, the top 1 percent paid 19 percent of the income-tax burden; now it's 40 percent. Taxes have become the province only of the rich.
Of course, the shift in tax burden also mirrors the incredible increase in incomes of the wealthy in the last 30 years - the top 1 percent earned only 8 percent of the total national income in 1980; now it earns 22 percent. And the poorest half has seen its share of national income fall from 17 percent in 1980 to only 12.5 percent today.
So it is both fair and sensible to give the poor a tax break and to draw the bulk of federal revenues from the rich. But to exempt the bottom half - a majority of the voters - from paying any taxes and to award them refund checks instead would dangerously alter the fundamental balance of national politics. For the economically well off, it could effectively become taxation without representation - which, as the founders of our nation warned, leads to tyranny.