RALEIGH – As members of congress twist themselves into knots on Capitol Hill trying to coalesce around a tax reform and cut plan that doesn’t upset the lobbyists too much, many have pointed to states like North Carolina as a model for such reform.
Republicans in the Old North State often emphasize the improved business and tax climate rankings, economic performance, and healthy budgets as supportive of tax cuts and reform.
Democrats mostly focus on class warfare tactics, cherry-pick lagging wage indicators, and then double down on class warfare tactics.
While Republicans are right to point to the benefits to the economy that lower taxes provide, it is a practical argument that is open to challenge with each quarter of economic releases in a world where state economies are hardly insulated from regional, national, and global trends. And, these benefits are secondary.
One bad economic reading, or ‘unfair’ distribution of growth, and Leftists can (and do) say, ‘See! Tax cuts just favor the rich! Evil Republicans don’t care about the poor!.’
As absurd and demonstrably false as those assertions always are, Leftists do have an advantage in the argument as a result of tax cut proponents too often ceding ground on the moral question.
Leftists are always quick to claim the ‘moral high ground’ of redistribution, or soaking the rich while showering the poor with government benefits.
The practical failings of such policies are obvious, as is currently demonstrated by countries like Venezuela, the socialist ‘utopia’ with the highest inflation in the world and where even toilet paper is hard to come by, but the evocative appeal rests on a moral argument that animates passions that are not easily dispelled by pointing to rising economic rankings or budget surpluses.
To combat this, Republicans and Conservatives should instead take the moral premise head on, acknowledging its primacy, and taking back the moral high ground by recalling the moral absolutes that served as the foundation of the United States of America.
Every tax cut, especially for the overtaxed top quintile, is a morally just action in recognition of the fact that a man or woman has just as much claim to their millionth dollar of income, as they do to their first dollar of income.
The easy perversion of tax policies into sinister tools of tyranny by a majority was acknowledged by the Founding Fathers, and warned against by the architect of the U.S. Constitution James Madison.
“It is sufficiently obvious, that persons and property are the two great subjects on which Governments are to act; and that the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted. These rights cannot well be separated.”
Those rights cannot be separated precisely because they are one in the same. Every individual has an inherent right to their production, and all of their production, because they have a right to their life.
That is what equality means in the American sense. Not equal outcomes, but equal treatment under the law with respect to your individual rights. Leftists arguments that ‘the rich can afford it’ or ‘tax cuts just benefit the wealthy’ bastardizes the idea of equality under the law by purposely conflating it with equality of outcomes or incomes.
Lowering and flattening income taxes on individuals and corporations is absolutely justifiable on a moral basis first and foremost. The practical benefits of a just tax system and an economy based on free markets are merely secondary to the primacy of the moral truth that you, and you alone, have a right to your life, liberty, and your property.
Leftists have no defense against this argument because theirs rests on a morally bankrupt, and un-American view of the Individual and his or her rights. They claim ‘rights’ for some that depend upon the violation of another’s, and couch it all in the Orwellian language of fairness.
Conservatives should welcome the moral argument on tax cuts, and then follow it up with abundant evidence that adhering to these self-evident truths results in more jobs, more investment, more economic growth, and higher quality of life. Because a tax policy that is consistent with liberty, will always be consistent with prosperity.