Even those Bush tax cuts that do go into effect will increase the ability and willingness of taxpayers to be taxed later. In essence, Bush's budget takes the money Democrats will need and stores it with the taxpayers--for collection at a later date, when Bush is out of office. Yes, yes, it stores the money mainly with rich taxpayers. But that's OK. We know where they live.
What's really difficult in federal politics, it turns out, isn't raising taxes. What's really difficult is cutting spending. Reagan couldn't do it, as Fareed Zakaria has noted. Newt Gingrich couldn't do it. Restraining spending is complicated. It's unpopular. Democrats are especially bad at it, and they should be delighted that Bush has taken on the dirty task. Every dollar he saves today is a dollar we can spend tomorrow!
According to columnist (and former budget official) Matthew Miller, Bush's original plan, if actually followed, would shrink the share of national GDP absorbed by Washington from 18 percent to around 15.7 percent. That would give President Edwards--or President Lieberman, or President Daschle--2.3 percent of GDP to spend on the Democratic programs they successfully campaigned on. You can do a lot with 2.3 percent of GDP.
At some point, when they're through denouncing Bush for putting government in a "fiscal straitjacket," honest Democrats will realize this, and be secretly grateful.
TODAY IN SLATE
Meet the New Bosses
How the Republicans would run the Senate.
The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers
Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.
Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.
Why all cracker names sound alike.
Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom
This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059
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- Knife-Carrying White House Jumper is Vet who Feared “Atmosphere Was Collapsing”
- North Korea: American Sentenced to Hard Labor Wanted to Become “Second Snowden”
- Almost One in Four Americans Support Idea of Splitting From the Union
Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?
A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.