It's said that once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence and three times is a trend. Well, the emerging trend in the Republicans Party is that raising taxes is actually negotiable. After being the party synonymous with tax reduction for nearly 30 years, this is a rather stunning development. That is particularly true given that tomorrow -- April 15 -- thousands of conservatives across the country will be throwing "Tea Parties" protesting government spending and high taxes.
Still, the evidence of GOP apostasy can't be ignored:
Item: Half the House Republican caucus -- including up-and-coming GOP whip Eric Cantor -- votes for a 90 percent confiscatory tax on bonuses for AIG employees. And hardcore anti-taxer Grover Norquist gave them a pass on it. A special case? A fluke?
I also want Obama to succeed. Unlike Rush Limbaugh, if Obama can get my 401(k) back to life, if he can get health care costs under control, if he can stop pollution, if he can get the manufacturing sector back on its feet, if he can make our country more secure while regaining for America the moral high ground, if he can find the cure for cancer and bring peace, love and understanding to the world, I am all for it.
I am also willing to pay a few extra bucks in taxes for that success, if I can get some economic growth in return.
Take note of that last line -- trading slightly higher taxes for some economic growth? Hmmm... a coincidence?
Item: Then, Monday, in what is especially notable because of both the messenger and the placement of the message: Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer says that "everyone should pay income taxes." Where? He writes this in the op-ed pages of the staunchly anti-tax Wall Street Journal. Fleisher's point is that the tax code is currently out of whack because nearly 50 percent of Americans pay no income taxes -- placing an increasingly unfair and unsustainable burden on those who do:
A very small number of taxpayers -- the 10% of the country that makes more than $92,400 a year -- pay 72.4% of the nation's income taxes. They're the tip of the triangle that's supporting virtually everyone and everything. Their burden keeps getting heavier.
While Fleischer calls for an overhaul of the tax code that would make it simpler and equitable, what are the real-world effects of his notion that "everyone should pay income taxes"? Especially with Democrats running Congress?
Answer: Income taxes are more likely to rise on those in lower income brackets -- even as they rise in the higher brackets too. A Republican wanting everyone to pay income taxes?
Looks like a trend to me.
Robert A. George is a New York writer. He blogs at Ragged Thots.