Republicans argue that the corporate tax rate of 35 percent, highest among advanced nations, and the personal rate of 35 percent should be cut. The other piece of tax reform is the elimination of deductions and credits so a lower rate on a broader tax base will yield the same or additional revenue.
Looks good on paper.
But today 50 percent of all U.S. wage-earners pay zero income tax. Will that half of a nation reward a party that ensures that many of them, too, contribute? Free-riders on the federal tax code are voters, too.
Again, the crucial question: Does the Romney Republican Party have the courage of its convictions -- to carry out a fiscal program consistent with its conservative philosophy?
For when, ever, has the modern GOP done that?
Richard Nixon funded the Great Society. Gerald Ford bailed out the Big Apple. George H.W. Bush increased spending and raised taxes. George W. Bush gave us No Child Left Behind, free prescription drugs for seniors, two wars, tax cuts and the largest increase in domestic spending since LBJ.
Even Ronald Reagan ruefully conceded that he failed to do what he had set out to do in cutting federal spending.
Now, we are assured that this generation of Republicans has come home to the church and confessed its sins, and is prepared to face martyrdom in the name of fiscal responsibility.
Yet, if it is difficult to see how the GOP advances toward a balanced budget, it is impossible to see how President Obama does.
Would the party of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, triumphant, scale back programs that are the pride of their party -- Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid? Would Pelosi, Reid and Obama cut the number of bureaucrats and beneficiaries of federal programs, thereby demobilizing the unionized armies on which they depend at election time?
When FDR came to power in 1933, after his running mate, "Cactus Jack" Garner, accused Herbert Hoover of taking us "down the road to socialism," the Federal government was spending 4 percent of GDP.
Today, it spends 24 percent. Under both parties, under every president since FDR, domestic spending has moved in one direction.
Ann Romney's question remains relevant.
Is the trend inexorable? Is there any turning back? Is it too late?
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