by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
HEALTH CARE ISN’T the only big issue that has the GOP floundering. Taxes, amazingly, are another. When Democrats hurl the charge that Republican tax-reduction proposals “favor the rich,” too many GOPers quiver and quake and run for cover. Among Obamacare’s numerous taxes, for example, are additional levies on capital gains and dividends, both of which inhibit capital creation and productive investing. Without investment, we don’t progress, and living standards stagnate, then decline. Yet Republican senators decided to retain these antigrowth levies, lest they be accused of “favoring the rich.”
For several years, a number of self-styled “populist” Republicans have been peddling policies they claim will help middle-class and lower-income Americans, while they diss “the rich” and show disdain for “the elites.” The kind of across-the-board tax cuts that wrought economic miracles for John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan? “Old-fashioned,” they sniff, sounding like progressives talking about the Constitution.
One hears noises about Republicans raising income tax rates on the “superwealthy” as a way to win over Democrats and show voters that their hearts are with the middle class. “Silicon Valley liberals will love us,” they fantasize.
All this is a sad commentary on a party that tells us it still admires Ronald Reagan.
The Gipper would have gagged at such populist posturing. He understood–as too many Republicans these days do not–that voters want a growing economy and wages that grow right along with it. They couldn’t care less if Bill Gates does well; they just want to know that their own take-home pay is robustly moving up, that the U.S. is once again a vibrant land of opportunity.