George Will: Liberalism’s decline began with cliff deal. Do you agree?
Will makes two arguments here.
The first is that the left has essentially conceded on the tax argument. Democrats voted in overwhelming numbers to lock in the Bush-era tax rates for 99.5% of taxpayers permanently (or at least as permanent as anything can get in DC). Yes, there was a lot of garbage in the deal too, but this aspect is, in the main, a victory on much of the tax argument.
But the second, and more important point Will makes is that by doing this—by locking in lower tax rates on the middle class, the Democrats have ensured the demise of the welfare state. A welfare/entitlement state of the size we’re currently running cannot be sustained without massive borrowing and heavy taxation of the middle class. Obama and the Democrats like to demagogue the notion of the rich paying “their fair share,” but the truth is, there aren’t that many super-rich people and they only have so much money to take. To fund the kind of entitlement state the left wants, they’d need to tap into the middle class, and they just made that impossible.
Both of these arguments were made by the commentators featured in Fiscal Cliff Deal, Part 2: Silver Linings a couple of days ago. And, needless to say, I have been making variations of the second point since I wrote Rome, America, and the Collapse of the Welfare State.
So what do YOU think? Is this the beginning of the end for liberalism? Or, will the collapse of the welfare state be so spectacular that it will smash our economy, leaving the left free to blame capitalism and get people behind a move to institute more statist/socialist policies as a result?
See also . . .