Taxes—Three Litmus Tests

From Time’s “The Republican Revolution,” by Michael Reynolds

On the Oct. 31 edition of 60 Minutes, Stockman [Reagan’s budget director, David Stockman] weighed in on this madness. “We’ve demonized taxes,” he said. “We’ve created almost the idea that they’re a metaphysical evil … It’s rank demagoguery. We should call it for what it is. If these [Republicans] were all put into a room on penalty of death to come up with how much they could cut, they couldn’t come up with $50 billion, when the problem is $1.3 trillion. So to stand before the public and rub raw this antitax sentiment, the Republican Party, as much as it pains me to say this, should be ashamed of themselves.”

Reynolds concludes…

I would suggest three litmus tests to gauge whether the Republicans are serious about deficits: 1) Are they prepared to stop with the tax cuts? Because the deficit will keep widening with more of them. 2) Are they prepared to cut middle-class entitlements? Because the only places to find real reductions in federal-government spending are in the large, popular programs like Medicare and Social Security. 3) Are they ready to take on the Pentagon? Because at $717 billion, defense spending — more than half of all discretionary spending — has to be trimmed.

These are not political statements. They are mathematical ones, and it is on understanding math, not politics, that the third Republican revolution now rests.

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