Andrew Sullivan attempts a rebuttal of David Brooks' column. I agree with Ross Douthat that Sullivan's engaging in some wishful thinking about politics here. Lots of people, for example, would like a candidate to take on farm subsidies but the only people who are going to make it a voting issue are the farmers, and no such proposal would ever get out of committee no matter what the president said, since the Agriculture Committees are dominated by . . . the beneficiaries of the subsidies.

On the merits, though, I think the argument founders on the view that "it is simply true that every dollar taken by the government is one dollar less for you and me to spend on what we decide is best." The overall size of the economic pie is not irrelevant here. It's possible for taxes as a percent of GDP to go up, while after-tax income also goes up. It all depends on how your policies impact growth. These are, of course, controversial issues. But if liberals are right that a move to a national health care system would be a boon to the economy, then implementing such a system -- even if it meant a tax increase -- would be fine for freedom. Conversely, insofar as conservatives are right that their agenda will boost growth, more growth will mean more resources available to be taxed and spent on services. It all does depend, on some level, on the actual content and merits of the policies in question.