Ken Connor

Dan Balz of the Washington Post gives President Obama some credit for taking both sides to task for their rigidity in the face of looming disaster. To fiscal conservatives, Obama insists that tax hikes must be part of any compromise. To liberals, he stresses the need to trim entitlement fat or run the risk of systemic program collapse. The President argues that in light of the fact that we have a divided government, some measure of compromise on taxes is critical to securing aggressive cuts in spending. There is no way, he maintains, that Senate Democrats will support a bill that does not include tax hikes on the wealthiest Americans.

The Democrats fixation with taxes notwithstanding, our current economic woes do not stem from the fact that Americans are not taxed sufficiently. We do not have a taxing problem, we have a spending problem. The root of our current economic woes is that we have been unwilling to live within our means. That is true for government and it is true for individuals. We have wanted it all and we have wanted it now – whether we could afford it or not! To get it all, we have been willing to plunge into debt, mortgaging our future and the future of our children and their children. We have been in denial that our account would one day come due. Now our financial chickens are coming home to roost.

In pushing for tax hikes, Democrats seek to undermine the need for meaningful spending cuts and the adverse political consequences that would inevitably result. If we can generate new sources of revenue, they maintain, it will not be necessary to cut government spending as dramatically as would otherwise be required. That is undoubtedly true, but spending cuts are what we need. And in the current environment, nothing will quench the prospects of a financial turnaround quicker than taking more money out of the pockets of the American people. If we are to recover our financial footing, it will come by instituting fiscal discipline, tightening our belts and curbing spending. More taxes will not yield the desired result.

The time for political posturing and half-measures is over. The cancer has metastasized. We need radiation, chemo, and surgery. Unless we are willing to pursue a radical course of treatment we can kiss the American dream of yesteryear goodbye.

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.