David Frum provides a useful frame:
Conservatism could once be described as a three-cornered stool: social, economic and national security conservatives. Today though it’s more relevant to think of conservatism as an attempt to draw a line connecting four points:
1) No tax increase
2) No defense cuts
3) No Medicare cuts
4) Rapid move to a balanced budget.
Obviously it’s impossible to meet all four of those commitments. It would be difficult enough to combine #4 with even two of the first three. Much of the struggle within the conservative world can be understood as a quiet debate over which of those commitments to jettison.
Put like that, the GOP is having a debate in a parallel universe. But David is dead-on. Where does Frum stand?
"I am prepared to accept tax increases provided they fall on consumption and pollution rather than work, saving and investment. A carbon tax yes, a VAT if need be, but no increases in personal or corporate income taxes or capital gains taxes. On the other hand, the 15% tax rate on corporate dividends seems to me a laughably unjustifiable giveaway, even though I personally benefit from it."
I agree with all of that. Any fiscal conservative who refuses to countenance new sources of tax revenue is not a fiscal conservative. She's a fantasist. But keeping income taxes low and much simpler, removing all those corporate tax loopholes, and focusing on taxing consumption and gas seems very sensible to me on the revenue side.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.