Wednesday, November 15, 2006
The Uncomfortable Truth of American Economics
U.S. Senator-elect Jim Webb (D-VA) actually raised some good points in today's Wall Street Journal opinion section.
The DOW is at an all time high, economic growth is marching along and unemployment is near the floor. Then why are Americans upset enough about the endangerment of the American Dream to vote into office 28 more Democrats? The truth is that America's economic success has not greatly improved the standard of living for Americans. As Webb illustrates, "hidden costs" resulting from astronomic health care, education and insurance increases have strained the American pocketbook. Sure, both parents have historically well-paying jobs, but these hard-working adults are finding it somehow harder to meet the demands of modern life. Webb is not incorrect when he warns of a "protectionist backlash," one that would doom the U.S. to the economic dark ages. What can be done?
Tax cuts of the Bush mold are a nice start, but who do they reach? The greatest Liberal lie of all is that the "rich" have been successful in shifting the tax burden to a hapless middle class. Even after the Bush cuts, the richest 1$ pay more than a 1/3 of federal income taxes, while the top 50% shell out nearly 97%! The class distinctions of which Webb is so thoroughly wary have been created by the same big-government tax 'n' spend shenanigans entrenched by years of federal fiscal liberalism. Many estimates suggest the top 50% of Americans will pay 100% of the taxes by 2010. Is that democracy? Are we truly fostering an egalitarian economy? Double taxation via corporate and income taxation give the average wealthy entrepreneur reason enough to avoid direct reinvestment, low-income Americans remain without the educational tools to participate in the market effectively, and the middle class continue to get screwed by chasing a social mobility that is increasingly too expensive.
Republicans did not lose this election simply due to angst over Iraq. The real story is more complex. In order to enjoy a reasonable chance of retaking Congress in the near future, Congressional Republicans must offer a real contrast between the Liberal Democratic vision for America and a Conservative Republican map for progress. The Democratic sweep of rust-belt congressional seats should serve as a morbid example of America's doubts about free market policies. Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders and other newly-ascended kooks will push for an attempted return to 1956, when you "grew up to do what your daddy had done" whether you liked it or not. Pelosi, Jim Webb and their leftist cohorts will rant about college loan reforms and text book price hearings for the first 100 days; it won't be long before they gloss over the real problems plaguing our nation's health and return to their darker socialist tendencies.
Republicans must again embrace the conservative pragmatism championed by Ronald Reagan to regain the trust of the American people and save them from a class-segregated tomorrow Nancy Pelosi is anxious to engage.