There are probably some good reasons for opposing the recently passed Republican tax plan, including that it could increase a federal deficit that is already perilous.
The presumption is in favor of tax cuts because allowing people to keep more of the fruits of their labor is compatible with the crucial principle of limited government. But such cuts don't necessarily "pay for themselves" when it comes to government revenue, alleged economic stimulus effects and supply-side nostrums notwithstanding.
That deficit argument isn't, however, one that the Democratic Party can make with much credibility, given its longstanding enthusiasm for Keynesian pump-priming and contempt for the "green eyeshade" thinking of Republicans.
For Democrats, spending money government reflects compassion, arguing otherwise is mean-spirited.
That Barack Obama's administration blithely added more than $9 trillion to the national debt in just eight years further undermines Democratic credibility in this area.
Thus, with the deficit/debt line of attack effectively foreclosed (even if it shouldn't be), Democrats are left only with the bizarre but revealing claim that allowing Americans to keep more of their money constitutes some form of theft from the commonweal.
In Democratic thinking all wealth apparently belongs first and foremost to the state, which then is assigned the task of allocating it according to whichever principles it finds fair and prove electorally beneficial for Democrats.
Democrats, at root, don't believe that those who have been more successful and earned more money deserve what they have. And, as a logical corollary, that those who have less don't deserve so little and should therefore have more.
For Democrats, the primary purpose of government is to thus redistribute wealth, a perspective which, by definition, places a prior claim on all wealth generated. The idea of welfare-state socialism without substantial and constantly expanding largesse to distribute is inherently contradictory.
If you believe that all wealth belongs to the government, then it is also logical to believe that people are stealing from the government when they fork over less of it.
For Bernie Sanders, a bill cutting most people's income taxes represents nothing less than a "looting of the federal treasury." For Elizabeth Warren it wasn't tax reform but "a heist." Never to be outdone, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic gift to Republicans that never stops giving, referred to the GOP proposal as "one of the worst bills in the history of the United States of America" and even "Armageddon."
Hell apparently hath no fury like liberals impeded in their efforts to buy votes with other people's money.
Built into such hysteria and demagoguery was not just a badly misguided view of the role of government but also a further shift in Democratic assumptions regarding private property and taxation, consistent with the party's ongoing lurch to the radical left.
In the past, Democrats attacked Republican tax-cut proposals, including those during the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, as "giveaways," as if there was no distinction between government sending someone a welfare check and government allowing someone to keep more of what they had earned. Each was simply another government "benefit."
Not taking was considered equivalent to "giving," because, again, the money belonged to the government. Or, as Jonah Goldberg put it, "taking less money from you is the same as giving you more money."
But the current Democratic demagoguery regarding tax cuts actually takes this logic a step further--government is no longer just giving people something when taxes are cut, the people are now actually stealing it from the rightful owners (government).
The traditional relationship between citizen and government in liberal democratic theory is accordingly reversed: rather than the citizenry agree through the democratic process to offer up some of their income to the government in the form of taxes for public purposes, government now decides how much of its income the people are to be given.
"Theft" is the term many conservatives have used to describe the process whereby the state uses its coercive power to take the people's property. It is now the favored term used by liberals to describe the process whereby the people act through their elected representatives to get some of it back.
In the Democratic worldview, elected officials behave responsibly only when they increase taxes (and thereby provide more resources for government), never when they act to reduce them and leave more resources for the citizenry.
Taking money from party "A," who earned it, and giving it to party "B," who didn't, is the essence of compassion. Allowing party "A" to keep more of what they have earned amounts to "looting."
A key plank of Karl Marx's ideological framework, his dubious "labor theory of value," was that profits equal theft, with profits flowing from the root of all evil, private property.
All wealth in the Marxist classless utopia would consequently belong to the state, taken "from each according to ability" and given "to each according to his need."
Marx wanted to take all of your property. Democrats like Sanders, Warren, and Pelosi aren't as radical as that.
They will let you keep some, for the time being. And as long as you know it really isn't yours.
Freelance columnist Bradley R. Gitz, who lives and teaches in Batesville, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois.
Editorial on 01/01/2018
Print Headline: Democrats go full Marxist