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The first truth is that the current tax rates cannot support the promises made to middle-class Americans. The most unaffordable items in fiscal projections are Social Security for everyone and government-sponsored health care for the middle class. You cannot preserve these even with Draconian slashing of military, infrastructure, welfare, education, and other expenditures. The second truth is that you cannot pay for the Life of Julia, or any vision of a cradle-to-grave welfare state, without massive and increasingly regressive middle-class taxes. The poor don't have the money to pay for a European-style welfare state, and the rich, rich as they are, don't have anywhere near enough.
Surprisingly, many progressive pundits are moving away from their traditional complaint that America’s tax code is too regressive, favoring the rich. They are starting to tell us, albeit only after an election mainly contested on these issues, the truth: to fund the European-style social welfare state which they advocate, we must tax everyone more.
Note the use of “2 percent,” a number the president himself has begun using more often. It is a small but telling evolution from decrying the “1 percent.” One wonders if the Occupy Wall Street protesters have corrected their signs to read “We are the 98 percent”? Are those in the 98th percentile already saying “They came for the 1 percent and I said nothing…”? According to the more honest progressive pundits above, it will not be long until the 50th percentile is saying it too.
The choice the country faces is simple. We can have big government and the Life of Julia (at least for a while, but that is another essay), with everyone paying through the nose and the middle-class share of taxes rising not falling, or we can return to the American tradition of limited government, with everyone paying a smaller burden to the state, with relatively limited services for, and relatively light taxes on, the middle class. What we cannot have is the Life of Julia at no additional burden to 99 out of 100 of us. Nobody, Left or Right, really thinks that math works, no matter what they may say in public.
Right now we are avoiding honest debate on this fact, perhaps because those desirous of this change know the middle class would rebel if it saw the future bill it will have to pay. Instead, large government benefits are being continued and increased, and still new ones introduced, with little accurate discussion of who will ultimately pay.