Yet, this approach satisfies both Democratic demands that the top 1 percent pay more, and Republican desires that no one be forced to send more dollars to wasteful Washington. This approach would create jobs in nonprofits that provide effective compassion. A stronger civil society would lead to less government.
Some conservatives will complain that all of Susie's money is hers to use any way she wants—but Christians know that all of us are responsible before God to be stewards, not owners, of the resources He gives us. A tax credit approach helps the poor while maximizing donor choice and minimizing government aggrandizement.
I recognize that this is a bridge too far for non-theistic conservative theoreticians, so for them I'd propose Madisonian realism. Liberals who engage in class warfare have a destructive but potentially winning argument in today's culture. Conservatives need to undercut their appeal.
Even greater opposition is likely to arise from the liberal side. In 1995 I met with six leading Democratic senators who were complaining about prospective GOP cuts in welfare expenditures. I proposed a grand bargain: No cuts, but decentralize welfare. They were unwilling to give up their power. They said no.
We'll probably get a "no" this time as well, but even if my proposal is dead on arrival among liberals it will smoke out those whose real concern is not "fairness" but power.
And what if, miraculously, we get a "yes" from enough people on both sides to have Congress pass a tax-and-credit measure? Civil society, the American way of working together without growing government, gets a big boost. Good poverty-fighting programs, often starved for funds as government grabs more and more, increase their funding base. Liberty and opportunity increase rather than decrease.
Impasse? It doesn't have to be that way.