As conservatives suffer endless repetitions of the solemn, soggy Democratic mantra of “shared sacrifice,” they need to resist the powerful temptation to snarl back, “I’m already sacrificing more than enough, thank you very much!”
Of course it’s only natural to feel righteous indignation toward some smug lefty who wants to take money out of your pocket, but it’s more important in this situation to win the substantive argument by underlining the core distinction between what government gives and what government takes. As the euphoria fades following Osama bin Laden’s demise and the nation gets back to the bitter business of coping with a looming fiscal catastrophe, Republicans need to fight back against cunning liberal attempts to equate a reduction in benefits distributed by the bureaucracy with an increase in taxes collected by that same bureaucracy.
Their argument insists that the only component of society never expected to sacrifice in any way is the government itself, with the ferocious fans of federal power refusing to consider meaningful reductions in its scope, work force or resources. The real question isn’t whether the top 2 percent of wage-earners will pay what Barack Obama considers their fair share: They already shoulder a wildly disproportionate part of the burden, with IRS figures showing wealthy Americans paying the highest percentage of total income taxes in more than 50 years.
The true shirkers aren’t wealth producers and job creators: They’re the politicians and other public employees who indignantly resist giving up their cherished programs and prerogatives. Not only do the president and his allies exclude these preening “public servants” from calls for shared sacrifice, but the White House actually wants to increase governmental expenditures for favored priorities like high-speed rail, wind farms, educational boondoggles, and other aspects of the “Winning the Future” (WTF) agenda.
Despite liberal attempts to exploit envy, the real battle of the budget isn’t a class-warfare feud between “the needy” and “the greedy” over who will pay what to whom. It is, rather, the eternal struggle over whether the government should shrink or grow; whether power brokers in the nation’s capital will command less or more of the wealth generated by the private sector.
The right choice would seem obvious at a time when Washington already borrows 40 cents of every dollar it spends , and overwhelming majorities agree that the government tries to do too much, wasting billions (if not trillions) through a broad array of inefficient, corrupt, and ill-advised initiatives.