Why Taxes Will Rise (and Why That's O.K.)

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Tea Party supporters attend a rally in Concord, New Hampshire.
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Sorry, Republicans-whose-only-goal-is-to-oppose-any-tax-hike-on-anybody-ever: Taxes will rise in the end. Or so argues the Times' David Leonhardt. Sure, it would be great if "getting spending under control" could solve all our economic problems, as a majority of Americans, not just Republicans, seem to believe. But to think so is to imagine "a budget in which the United States indefinitely has the world’s highest medical costs, its largest military, an aging population and, nonetheless, taxes that are among the world’s lowest. Economists have a name for that combination: a free lunch." A refusal to raise taxes would not heal all wounds; it would lead to an America without Social Security and Medicare as we know them (which the GOP might be cool with but most Americans aren't) and a much smaller military (which Democrats would like but not, needless to say, Republicans). So, assuming we want to preserve these things, we'll need to raise taxes at some point. (And by the way, Leonhardt notes, 72 percent of Americans say they're O.K. with raising taxes on income above $250,000, so it's not the political liability people assume.) Luckily, a solution is readily at hand: the Bush tax cuts are set to expire in Jan, 2013. Republicans would like to keep them, Democrats to let some or most expire. A likely result:  "a stalemate that would cause the cuts to disappear." And "[a]fter the last few days, a stalemate doesn’t seem like such a bad bet."

'Why Taxes Will Rise in the End' [David Leonhardt, New York Times]

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