This week’s “Daily Journal” guest columnist is Donna Martinez (@freemktmartinez), Carolina Journal Radio co-host.
RALEIGH — It happened again a few days ago, but by now I’m used to progressives accusing me of being an ideologue whose intransigence is responsible for gridlock in our national, state, and local policymaking, and for preventing society’s transformation. When I plead guilty to holding core beliefs in freedom, free markets, and traditional marriage, they react with disdain that a fiscal and social conservative isn’t wilting under the weight of their insults. Apparently, they expect me to cave to their calls for more dependence on government, for less reliance on me and my family, and for turning a blind eye to societal changes that reject basic truths.
What occurs when I turn the tables on progressives is amusing, and I’m used to it as well. When I ask progressives when they plan to help end the gridlock they decry by disavowing their firmly held ideological support of abortion and higher taxation, they react with surprise. Evidently, they’re not often quizzed about the beliefs they’re willing to jettison to encourage the growing welfare state they accuse conservatives of selfishly preventing. Following an uncomfortable pause, I can lay money they’ll launch into a diatribe about a conservative war on women and the poor, with a slap at religious conviction thrown in.
So much for trying to reason with today’s progressives. So much for thinking they’ll abide by the same expectations about abandoning ideological principles they so eagerly seek to impose on others.
There’s no better example than the progressive campaign for the so-called “Buffett Rule.” No disrespect to Mr. Buffett — I admire his business success — but I’ve fired him from the progressive tax hike plan and renamed it the “It’s All About Me Rule.”
This new moniker more accurately reflects the basis of its progressive support. Some may truly believe we can tax our way to prosperity, but the “It’s All About Me Rule” is simply a well-marketed excuse to transfer more money out of private hands and into the public trough. The highest-earning households are easy targets after three years of criticism from the highest political office in the land. Thus, the “It’s All About Me Rule” enjoys enormous support among key progressive constituencies.
Big-government advocates want public programs to reign as the No. 1 option for addressing society’s real and perceived problems. This constituency works for government agencies or for groups that are partially funded by, or have working relationships with, the recipients of public funding. Their future depends on an expanding public sector and growth in government coffers. A call for making the rich pay “their fair share” fits the bill.
The jealous crowd wants higher taxes — only on other people, of course — as a way of sticking it to those they envy. These folks don’t want to hear about, or learn from, the successful or the wealthy. Their bottom line is basic: It isn’t “fair” that other people have bigger houses or nicer cars or take better vacations, so let’s take some of those things away from them. This lowest-common-denominator ideology is grounded in the desire to tear down rather than build up.
Over the next months we’ll hear a lot more about the rich, and we’ll hear those who target their success say that paying more in taxes is patriotic. The question is: Will the progressives voluntarily put their money where their mouths are?
Based on data from the U.S. Treasury, the answer is a clear no.
As I wrote for Carolina Journal in January, Americans show little interest in voluntarily donating money to the federal government. Contributions to the federal account titled “Gifts to the United States” totaled a paltry $250,028.44 in the first seven months of fiscal year 2012, according to Tom Longnecker of the Treasury Department, which administers the gift account. That’s off the pace for fiscal year 2011, when the total donated for the year was a mere $1,124,936.80.
If imposing higher tax bills is “fair,” why aren’t progressives voluntarily paying up? Because, as I find out when I ask them which ideological beliefs they’re willing to cast aside to get things done, the progressive goal isn’t “fairness.” It is to impose rules on others that they won’t voluntarily abide by themselves.