From time to time I hear the term “Conservative Solutions” in a context that causes me to imagine somewhere in the archives of the Republican Party or its think tanks there is a set solutions to all of our national problems that conform with conservative principles. Some of those are excellent. My favorite conservative solutions are Cap and Trade and RomneyCare.
Cap and Trade, an elegant solution to New England’s acid rain problem. It is a market thing. Deals are made between those who can reduce emissions cheaply and those who cannot. Acid rain has been out of the news for 20 years.
RomeyCare, a innovative solution to health care for low income residents of Massachusetts. Also a market thing. Free, highly subsidized and full-price private insurance plans are offered to residents. After implementation of the law, 98% of Massachusetts residents had health coverage.
Conservative solutions seem to reflect closely the ideas of Andrew Jackson and differ from those of Abraham Lincoln. Jackson was big on states rights and held that government involvement in national improvements should be limited. Lincoln had serous difficulties with the concept of state rights and, railway corporate lawyer that he was, enthusiastically supported subsidizing construction of high-speed rail.
Two overriding principles of conservative solutions show this. The first, based loosely on the idea that humans work most efficiently when they’re free to do whatever they like, is privatize everything and regulate nothing. The second is the favorite strategy of persons with wealth or easy income. Shift the load away from themselves. Income tax—that is evil. Sales or excise tax—bad but better than income tax.
Recently some of OKLAHOMA’S MOST INFLUENTIAL CITIZENS proposed a way to raise state tax revenue. Their idea was to raise revenue according to the ratio of $1 by oil and gas severance tax (an income tax) and $2 by a tobacco tax (a sales tax). And that came to pass.
A year and some months ago the same song with a new verse was placed underway by our national government. Income tax cut and sales tax increase. The national income tax was cut first. May 10, a 25% tariff the was imposed on Chinese imports. Taxes that will be added to prices–just like a sales tax.
The national income tax was cut such that income from individuals (the largest line item) in the past year was $97 billion less than the Congressional Budget Office had projected under the old law. Doing the math, 25% of Chinese imports $400 of is $100 billion. So the bottom line looks like this: $97 billion in income tax cuts replaced with $100 billion of sales taxes. Truly a conservative solution.