Joe Klein defends Biden for saying this:

The truth of the matter is that we are in trouble.  And the people who do not need a new tax cut should be willing, as patriotic Americans, to understand the way to get this economy back up on their feet is to give middle class taxpayers a break. We take the tax cut they're getting and we give it to the middle class.

Ramesh Ponnuru counters:

The invocation of patriotism does no analytical work here. You could just as well say "good people should support tax increases." You would merely be dumbing down the debate in a way liberals usually find objectionable.

I've long been a conservative opponent of progressive taxation in principle.

But what Obama and Biden are saying is that we are in an emergency and the collapse of middle-class security may make a pragmatic violation of such a principle defensible. I have to say I'm open to that idea - as a pragmatic move. No conservative should be indifferent to the collapse of the middle class. No stable constitutional democracy survives without one.

The mark of conservatism, to my mind, is not an absolute adherence to eternal principles, but a grasp of both the principles learned from history and experience and an openness to the moments when they may need to be pragmatically and temporarily suspended. I'm not convinced we're there yet. But I'm much more open to the idea than I was a year ago.

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