Token Dissonance

Black & gay, young & conservative. A Southern gentleman writes about life and politics after Yale


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The Hope of Damocles

“All you have to do is just listen to what’s happening out there and you realize there is progress.” –O’Brien Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)

Take that, fat cat!

Take that, you old fat cat!

Rachel Maddow loves truth—so much, in fact, that she prefers to keep it as far away from her audience as she can, lest either get away from her. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy her style—she really does make intellectual laziness and systemic dishonesty look downright magical. I would even go so far as to say she reminds me of many a dear friend I made at and since Yale. But however fond I might be of her personally, her political analysis—and its tendency to represent the liberal consensus on “reality”—skews somewhere between malicious and unhinged. More importantly, it’s also very insightful.

In case I was not clear enough about this in my last post, the Left is not invested in spending reform. Just as President Obama has, with liberal enabling, enhanced and perpetuated the Bush approach to national security, the Democratic coalition has doubled down on Dick Cheney’s infamous riposte: “Deficits don’t matter.” To be sure, Republicans are not innocent in the matter of squandering a hard-won surplus, but George W. Bush is long gone, as is any fealty—at least on the right—to his spending agenda. (For what it’s worth, W would have squandered much less on the stimulus.) Put simply, the Right has learned from past mistakes.

Which brings us back to Maddow and the Democratic line: there are three essential truths about the budget crisis that you will not learn from her—or the President’s—latest post-election campaign of Orwellian doublethink. First, the federal debt is on track to exceed 100% of national GDP (i.e., the entire size of the U.S. economy) in the next decade. Second, escalating entitlement spending drives this debt above all else. Third, if that spending is not resolved, we’ll lean forward into inexorable ruin.

The annual deficit has exceeded $1 trillion for four years running. Barring sequester or balanced reform, the debt—already north of 70% of GDP—will escalate beyond reckoning. In the face of fiscal reality, the Maddow-approved Obama plan calls for $1.6 trillion in new revenue—up from $968 billion—over a decade and minor spending cuts that may very well be outmatched by another round of stimulus spending. If we pretend that these new taxes (and ObamaCare) will have no deleterious impact on the economy and will meet optimistic revenue projections, they will accrue enough money to offset a single year of deficit spending in about 6½ years (again, being optimistic). In the meantime, without significant cuts that pre-election Democrats agreed are necessary, our economy sails closer to Greece on an odyssey of war against “the rich” and Grover Norquist. (By the way, the Rising Tax Brigade may soon be coming for your 401(k).)

Of this Olympian catastrophe of a plan Maddow writes, “For the left, if there must be a focus on debt reduction, the White House proposal is the right way to do it.”

It is a terrifying world indeed when the President of the United States is aiming to govern by the playbook of MSNBC. But alas, here we are with the powers that tax (or want to) from the White House on down openly belittling the very legitimacy of reducing the deficit. The Left is not invested in spending reform. One could argue that some of them are deeply invested in defeating and breaking the GOP, but I imagine most wouldn’t put it that way.

Some have argued that Obama’s plan is primarily a bargaining position from which liberals expect to compromise. That may very well be true. But if nothing else, the nature of the starting line exposes the contours of the priorities in play. In opening with a proposal that fixates on tax hikes (with stimulus!) and hedges on cuts or any pretense of serious reform, Democrats are prioritizing raising taxes over anything else—budget balance, entitlement solvency, economic growth, etc. In other words, the President and his allies are negotiating as though these once-bipartisan goals—on which both sides ran for election—are merely concessions to be won by the other side rather than shared values to guide compromise. This is the crux of the whole problem.

Notwithstanding the unusually progressive essence of the U.S. tax system, Republicans agree that revenue ought to be included in any viable deal. Call it a major concession, if you like. But a “deal” that is heavy on hubris of spite and light on enduring solutions to underlying problems is not a deal; it is a sadistic game of chicken played by recalcitrant children against the faith and credit of the United States.

If the Democrats refuse to take spending cuts seriously with looming sequester, it would be asinine to expect them to change tune once all leverage has been conceded. Going over the fiscal cliff would be terrible, and the consensus holds that Republicans will be blamed for whatever happens. But if we don’t bear in mind that there are darker ships on the horizon, the Right will be as complicit as the Left in all the turmoil to come.

Balanced recession or unbalanced collapse: which would the President prefer we choose?


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Fear and Consequence

Update: This post was adapted by The Huffington Post. You can find that article here.

“They remain in the same place: They expect taxes to go up on the wealthy and to protect Medicare and Medicaid benefits. They feel confident that they don’t have to compromise.” –White House meeting attendee

“We have to make sure that people who vote for socialism feel the consequences of voting for socialism.” –Bill Whittle

“Elections have consequences, America, and at the end of the cliff, I won!”

In the flurry of ideas about the future of the Republican Party and the contentious talks over the Sequester of Damocles, I decided to humor my Facebook friends by posting a conservative post-election take on A Modest Proposal:

“Also, if the GOP agrees to tax hikes in exchange for something else – like entitlement reform, but only the promise of reform which we know will never come to fruition – they will predictably get slaughtered for “caving” instead of compromising, which is actually what they’d be doing. Again, the GOP doesn’t have the skill or a complicit media to explain how they compromised while Obama and Democrats didn’t…

So what do they do? They’re stuck in a no-win situation. The answer is simple: Give Obama what he wants. All of it. Don’t negotiate. Just say, “Put your plan up for a vote and we’ll pass it. You will own everything that happens moving forward. We’ll do it your way.””

Presumably, there are a good many liberals who would love this approach, as it would allow them to get everything they want with some appearance of bipartisanship. As terrifying as it seems to conservatives, many do sincerely believe that fealty to obsolescing Great Society politics is part of a robust model for a better world. But the response I received was more interesting than any of that. To quote a Democrat-voting friend:

“Well yes, Obama did win, so I want Republicans to give up on Grover Norquist and accept tax hikes on the rich, but stay true to their other principles at the negotiation table. That is what a moderate Republican would do in my eyes. And that’s what ‘negotiation’ is.”

Curiously, it’s not enough for this friend to have his policy preferences enacted over Republican objections. He wants conservatives to be complicit in the act of raising taxes for nothing more than the hot air of hope for real change later. If this were accomplished, a caricature of conservatism would share equally in any blame for economic pain to come, and future politicians could pretend that nobody “serious” foresaw the calamity. My friend aside, the crux of nearly every argument from the Left for “moderation” and “balance” on the conservative commitment to limited government and free enterprise is this implicit desire for an ostensibly substantive—but actually empty—Republican stamp of involvement in a policy agenda that comes light in the arena of serious long-term proposals for averting disaster.

There is nothing “moderate” about Obama imperiously doubling his demand for more taxes or refusing to discuss cuts he will pursue for “balance”. Even as the President campaigned today against the dangers of tax hikes on small businesses, he has already reneged on his campaign promise to support a once bipartisan effort to lower corporate taxes and make American enterprise more competitive. This “balanced approach” denudes any leverage for securing necessary cuts that Democrats are already fighting. Necessary reforms will not be popular, and they will certainly not be more readily achieved when the incentive to produce them—expanded revenue—is already conceded and enacted.

So if Democrats are so eager to avenge the myth of Robin Hood against the dastardly “rich”, independent of all else, what does the “balanced” end game look like? What are the reforms that will secure Medicare beyond the next decade? Where is the talk of addressing the appreciating regulatory burden on businesses and energy policy? If we disapprove of offshore accounts, where is the attendant discussion about why American investors find it more profitable to send capital overseas than maintain it domestically? If Clinton-era tax rates are so preferable, where is the talk of reducing state taxes to 90s levels and restoring Clinton-era spending?

The right answers to these and other questions will do a lot more good for a lot more people than all the rate hikes in the world. Republicans are not out defending the rich against all reason. We are trying to ensure an actual balanced approach is accomplished in a matter broadly agreeable and efficacious in the face of ongoing intransigence from a storm of special interests with stakes in the status quo.

But while we’re on the subject, “the rich”—however defined—are neither the enemy nor wanting for patriotism. They just want to be industrious and successful like anybody else, and they find their fortunes where our policies encourage them to do so. If our current economic climate is not sufficiently geared towards growth and broad prosperity, then we’ll be in for a long, dark ride through the next four years.

Elections have consequences, America. I hope we’re ready for them all.


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Community Conservatism

“Power, Liberalism still has beyond doubt; but power has only tile next to the last word in the affairs of men-not the last word. Power is wielded by men, controlled by men, divided by men, limited by men, as they are guided and inspired by their intellectual and spiritual understanding.” –Frank S. Meyer

We’re all this excited to vote Republican in 2016!

A narrative is steadily ossifying that holds the GOP as the atrophic Party of bitterly contemptuous and self-absorbed plutocrats whose increasingly fringe rhetoric alienates the majority of American voters who care about other people. That unsavory image is not exactly ameliorated by curmudgeonly talk of “moochers” and “gifts” for Obama-voting blue-collar and professional workers who do, in fact, pay all their taxes. Yet for all their alleged hatred for—or, more charitably, indifference to—the poor, elderly, and otherwise disadvantaged, Republicans still give more to charity and community than the gentry voters of the Blue States.

Why does it seem that liberals care so much less about providing for others when it comes to committing their own resources?

You could say I’m kidding on the square with that quip, but it introduces a key element about the core dynamics of the right side of our two-party coalitions. Conservatism, at its core, is as much about free enterprise, private industry, and individual liberty as it is about community and the transcendent power of relationships to ground atomized persons into coherent tapestries of purpose and vision. We are citizens before we are businessmen, patriots before we are laborers or collared professionals. In defending the well-being of every citizen qua citizen, conservatives are properly skeptical of organized power and its insidious tendency to foment entrenched narcissism and lethargic mediocrity. Thus, a conservative is no more properly a partisan of Big Business (not that business is monolithic) as of Big Government.

Yet this message has been somewhat lost in the weeds of the 47%. Of the panoply of major players in the Republican primary, it was primarily Rick Santorum who acknowledged, however imperfectly, the all too human question of how to care for the least among us without sacrificing the long-term prosperity that allows us to do so—and makes the task worthwhile. In truth, many people drown in a rising tide, and the invisible hand will not save everybody. The liberal answer to this frostbiting reality has been to outsource the worry of such things to the gangrenous pity of alienating bureaucracy and pretend all costs can be met with more taxes.

We know this does not work. The expansive welfare state exacerbates the costs of poverty while weakening the overall social and economic health of the nation. But when the Left can successfully caricature the Right, for all the community activism of conservative families, as a privileged world of people devoid of empathy or understanding—and the electorate votes more on whether a candidate “cares” than whether he or she “has vision”, is a “strong leader” or “shares  my values”—necessary reforms become that much harder.

But even as the Democratic Party clings with reactionary zeal to the progressivism of yesteryear, some liberals have grown innovative in seeking independence from Big Institutions. When the famously trusted Red Cross and infamously inept FEMA could not satisfy the escalating needs faced in wake of Superstorm Sandy, the scions of Occupy Wall Street—now styled, Occupy Sandy—stepped in to do what smaller, more nimble communities do best when unshackled from overhead and invasive regulation. They helped people:

“Maligned for months for its purported ineffectiveness, Occupy Wall Street has managed through its storm-related efforts not only to renew the impromptu passions of Zuccotti, but also to tap into an unfulfilled desire among the residents of the city to assist in the recovery. This altruistic urge was initially unmet by larger, more established charity groups, which seemed slow to deliver aid and turned away potential volunteers in droves during the early days of the disaster.

In the past two weeks, Occupy Sandy has set up distribution sites at a pair of Brooklyn churches where hundreds of New Yorkers muster daily to cook hot meals for the afflicted and to sort through a medieval marketplace of donated blankets, clothes and food. There is an Occupy motor pool of borrowed cars and pickup trucks that ferries volunteers to ravaged areas. An Occupy weatherman sits at his computer and issues regular forecasts. Occupy construction teams and medical committees have been formed.” (Emphasis added)

If a movement borne of self-aggrandized loiterers, bargain-basement philosophizers, and scatological revolutionaries can instantiate such a robustly human argument for the conservative will to limited, community-oriented governance—to the benefit of people over institutions—imagine how much stronger this message could resound through the broad and deep resources of political movement committed to such a project. After all, Americans still believe government does too much, and the Occupy movement is hardly any kind of model for the future.

Skepticism of the welfare state, like Occupy Sandy’s skepticism of FEMA and the Red Cross, is not tantamount to apathy for the least of us. But we have work to do to demonstrate why and how a new approach will mitigate the failures of current policy for ordinary people. An improved approach might include copyright reform to aid young entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, more efficient local-federal disaster relief partnership that cuts down on bureaucratic red tape, revisions to ObamaCare that minimize the damage to small businesses, revisions to NCLB (put bluntly: neither this nor ObamaCare are getting repealed) that encourage more local innovation and less federal invasion, immigration policy that rewards capital investment and job creation in the U.S, means-testing and other reforms for Medicare so relatively wealthy retirees don’t strangle their poorer descendants, etc.

None of these proposals are particularly easy to caricature as “for the rich” (although I trust Alan Grayson will manage something) but are markedly accessible, in various ways, to an increasingly diverse American electorate. Further, these conservative solutions all have the benefit of encourage a community-focused message that speaks across such boundaries as race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, class, and national origin. There is no guarantee that Democrats will cooperate, but while he control the House, we need to use that leverage to promote much-needed political growth for the nation. Nobody is interested in our whining. They want our solutions.

There are certainly conservatives who disdain the poor, just as there are progressives who disdain the economically successful. But whatever the prior and remaining flaws of the GOP, Republicans are by no means the Party of the Rich; we are and should be the Party of the People, and we have the principles to back that up.

The 2012 election was in many ways a major setback, but it’s also an opportunity, however costly, for growth. It’s up to us to show all Americans our thoughtful and enduring solutions, with conviction and longsuffering, that they may yet see and believe.


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Right Quick: Thanks and Giving

As we celebrate another day of thanks and giving, it is prudent to remember the best of us at the worst of times. While the Union was crumbling around him and the very cause of freedom yet looked uncertain, American President Abraham Lincoln found solace in the wisdom of counting his blessings—and those of this great nation—to set the stage for this holiday we now enjoy with Benjamin Franklin’s more respectable Bird. No matter what horrors, setbacks, joys, pains, illusions, hopes, and heartaches lie in the offing or beyond the horizon, we as a nation will be blessed by the providence of liberty and the endurance of an exceptional Dream.

We are the people of America. Thank God—or whatever you believe—for that, and be mindful of all the many reasons we have to be grateful for the promises of life.

The best of men and the worst of times.

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,

Secretary of State


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War, Peace, & Rockets

“They blame the irresponsible dolts who started the war for all the consequences of the war and they admire Israel’s strength and its resolve for dealing with the appalling blood lust of the unhinged loons who start a war they can’t win, and then cower behind the corpses of the children their foolishness has killed.” –Walter Russell Mead

Terrorism has consequences.

Hamas had launched nearly 1,600 missiles into Israel this year and already over a thousand in the last week. It is largely thanks to Israel’s American-funded Iron Dome that hundreds of these deathly probes were prevented from striking civilians. Unfortunately, this small solace is somewhat mitigated by an expanded target range that now puts densely-populated Tel Aviv and Jerusalem in sight of rockets.

Given that Hamas hasn’t yet figured out how to direct the missiles, you might think the Palestinian leaders in Gaza would avoid the possibility of striking Palestinian children or Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem. You would be mistaken. The Israel Defense Forces indicate that roughly a hundred Hamas rockets have already exploded in Gaza, for which casualties Hamas conveniently blames Israel. Moreover, the ongoing belligerence is preventing Israel from delivering humanitarian aid to the strip. There is also, of course, the matter of Hamas hiding behind the civilians they claim to protect. It’s almost like they’re ideological fanatics or something.

It would seem a question-begging exercise to argue over the origins of the chicken-and-egg cycle of violence at this point, so it might be more useful to focus on more pragmatic concerns. Shockingly (to nobody), Hamas instantiates its violence through the largesse of Iran. Put another way, a government that dreams of wiping Israel from the map is arming a terrorist regime that denies the Israeli right to exist. It would be arguably suicidal for the only stably liberal democracy in the Middle East to appease a genocidal neighbor seeking freedom to arm, especially at a time when Iran aggressively pursues nuclear power and Islamists have replaced erstwhile partners in Egypt and Turkey.

The majority of Americans believe, as President Obama argued, that Israel is in the right to defend herself against the rain (and reign) of terror. It should perhaps be expected that most civilized people would agree that perennial rocket-fire makes for rather unsavory ambient conditions. As it happens, however, the numbers tell another interesting story: conservatives, moderates, Republicans, and Independents overwhelmingly support Israel’s measures of self-defense. Among liberals and Democrats, however, the yes-no split on whether military action is justified falls within the margin of error.

The finding is consistent with posts from my left-of-center Facebook feed (four years at Yale will have that effect, and I should add that some who disagree with me have already accused me of calling them anti-Semites). Opinions range from deranged dismissal of rigorous self-defense to predictably tendentious “fact checks” in favor of a terrorist organization to more well-intentioned if impractical paeans for “proportionality”. To the first two sentiments, I have neither interest nor patience. To the last, it is worth remembering that war is not an old gentleman’s game but an elemental struggle between peoples:

“Certainly if some kind of terrorist organization were to set up missile factories across the frontier in Canada and Mexico and start attacking targets in the United States, the American people would demand that their President use all necessary force without stint or limit until the resistance had been completely, utterly and pitilessly crushed. Those Americans who share this view of war might feel sorrow at the loss of innocent life, of the children and non-combatants killed when overwhelming American power was used to take the terrorists out, but they would feel no moral guilt. The guilt would be on the shoulders of those who started the whole thing by launching the missiles.”

At the crux of it, calls for Israeli proportionality privilege a willingness to succumb to slow but constant bleeding over attempts, however imperfectly aggressive, to heal the wound. This is not to say Israel has committed no atrocities or is otherwise free of blame. Such a situation is rarely the case for any side in any hostility. As a certain American general once famously observed and argued, “War is hell.” But there are worse hells than a flawed defense of the liberal democratic union of liberty and security.

Pacifism—the “principled” refusal to prosecute a worthwhile cause—is a beast from the pit, and its advocacy is a false prophecy inscribed with malice or idle nihilism in the blood of innocents seen and unseen. In the first place, it reifies concepts like “justice”, “freedom”, and “peace”, while denuding the moral universe of the resources to maintain such lofty ideals. In the second place, appeasement—or idly negligent “humanitarianism”—is the apotheosis of the Last Man, breeding contempt for the resolve to reckon with a dark and vicious world that will never care either for intentions or proportions.

This is not a game. A constitutional republic of the Free World is at war with a terrorist regime abetted by a den of Islamists on the one hand and clerical autocrats on the other. Every drop of blood spilt in eliminating senseless violence is upon the hands from which that evil came.

My sympathy is with the Palestinians. I hope their leaders will think of them, too.


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Right Quick: Entitlement

I have personal knowledge of neither the psychic afflictions of Van Jones nor what thoughts are most fashionable within the current and erstwhile ranks of Team Obama, but I gather that entitlement plays a sizeable role in the governing ethos. From the notion that Obama deserved reelection to the conviction that the public should subsidize free contraception to the fetish for “the rich” paying higher rates to pretensions of responsible fiscal governance, we can add the assertion of the divine right of Susan Rice to the throne of confirmation for Foggy Bottom.

Come on, man, “rightful ascension”? You never go full on monarchist (for which “accession” might be more optimal word choice), and Rice, I think, is no Jesus. It would be like a president who campaigned against crusading unilateralism, administrative opacity, and shady belligerence disdaining every attempt at congressional oversight of his new war. That would be ridiculous. This. Is. America.


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The War on Revenue

Update: An earlier draft of this post was adapted by The Daily Caller. You can find that article here.

“Lower rates of taxation will stimulateeconomic activity and so raise the levels of personal and corporate income as to yield within a few years an increased – not a reduced – flow of revenues to the federal government.” –John F. Kennedy

“We believe small businesses are the engine of economic growth in this country.” –Barack Obama

What do you mean taxes have consequences?

The U.S. Treasury Department announced yesterday that the federal budget deficit for the month of October 2012 was $120 billion.

For some fun perspective, Greece, Spain, and Italy produced deficits of about $9 billion, $29 billion, and $87 billion, respectively, in 2011. Read that again. In a single month, the U.S. government accumulated debt nigh tantamount to the entire annual deficits of three precariously recessive Eurozone countries. Of all the countries on Earth, only four—Japan, Britain, France, and Mexico—ran deficits in all of 2011 that exceeded Washington’s shortfall last month alone. Of all the annual surpluses of 2011—from Brazil to Sweden to Saudi Arabia—not one reaches $82 billion, let alone the $120 billion the U.S. spent by Halloween. Of course, these countries all have much smaller GDP, but it still makes for amusing comparison.

By now, you have already heard ad nauseam that Barack Obama has added more than half as much debt as he inherited. You also know that spending is at the highest levels since the Second World War, and yet Millennials are still, in a word, screwed. With the election behind us and the status quo ante more or less entrenched, we should expect the president will finally offer a real, centrist proposal to subdue the debt and unburden a drowning economy in way both sides can agree.

A week past the election, however, President Obama remains obsessed with effecting higher tax rates, which his allies are insisting do not matter. Before the election, the president campaigned on the need to lower corporate taxes in order to spur growth and create jobs. Now freed from the oversight of the electorate, Obama has reneged on this oftrepeated promise and literally doubled down on plans to sap resources from what he has agreed are the engines of our economy. Either the president has “evolved” on the question of private enterprise or he places a minimal premium on political and economic integrity.

Just as edible chemicals are not interchangeable for bodily health, not all forms of revenue have equivalent effect on the economy. Put simply, taxes retard growth, but certain types do so more than others—hence the once bipartisan agreement that corporate taxes should be cut and the fact of different rates for different kinds of income. (By the way, Great State of Illinois, sin taxes are terribly regressive.) As it happens—income taxes, which have already risen at the state level—are particularly associated with lower economic growth than other kinds of revenue, and the U.S. already has an unusually progressive tax system relative to the rest of the developed world. Hence, Republicans have long admitted and embraced the need for more revenue while insisting only that tax rates not be increased. From an economic standpoint, and contrary to the administration’s demagoguery, this makes sense.

We all know that President Obama won the election, and the Democrats gained seats in Congress. The Party of gracious victors was magnanimous enough to remind everyone of this fact, ad infinitum, in case we forgot. It was really very thoughtful of them. But now that the campaign is over, we need our elected officials to get serious about fixing this economy.

Equating Bill Kristol’s musing that the country would survive a tax hike with an endorsement of the idea is not serious. You could survive an amputation, if the party in power insists on it, and we may have to negotiate an arm down to a finger because they have won the upper hand (ahem). But that doesn’t change the fact that the powers that be are obdurately committed to hurting you, and we need to discuss ways that will actually solve problems.

At the end of the day, America still has a spending problem that can never be matched by revenue, and entitlements will start to go insolvent in the next decade. I would love to see the President of the United States reckon with the reality of the mess, and I expect the Republicans in Congress, however weakened, will continue to insist that he do so.