Perhaps the most glaring example of the administration’s tendency to punish beneficial behavior involves the president’s commitment to restore the hated death tax. The core of the American dream involves providing a better life for the next generation, but the tax rate for big estates that parents want to leave to their children is scheduled to rise to an obscene 55% on January 1, 2011. In essence, the estate tax singles out for particularly harsh treatment those who have demonstrated the greatest productivity, prudence and familial devotion by patiently building their resources. It’s not a tax on earning, since those who made the money already paid their taxes when they earned it. It is, rather, a tax on saving, on providing for the next generation. The death tax (which Democrats seek to restore even before its scheduled return) encourages 80-year-olds to squander their savings in Vegas, for high living and decadent self indulgence—since the government only goes after what’s left behind, not what they spend on themselves. In other words, Washington policy once again cracks down on good conduct (saving and wealth formation) and encourages irresponsibility (spending every dime before you croak).
Even on foreign policy, the policy of blessing the bad and damning the good emerges from the Obama team. The terrorist thugs of Hamas, who refuse to recognize Israel or renounce violence, get $400 million in new aid and unprecedented diplomatic support while Israel, which unilaterally withdrew from Gaza and Southern Lebanon, and repeatedly affirms its support for a two state solution, receives the harshest U.S. treatment in its history. The administration gives the back of its hand to stalwart allies like Poland and the Czech Republic, canceling crucial plans for missile defense in Central Europe, while reaching out with new concessions for rogue states like Iran and Syria, or blocking recognition of the Armenian genocide to placate increasingly Islamist Turkey.
For small-government conservatives, it’s frightening enough when Washington intrudes on every aspect of our lives with its approval or disapproval. But it becomes utterly unacceptable when that ever-expanding nanny state seems perversely determined to reward the bad and penalize the good, encouraging the worst inclinations in our society while burdening and castigating those who contribute the most to the general welfare.