Ken Blackwell: The VAT’s in the Fire
ACRU Senior Fellow Ken Blackwell wrote this column appearing on Townhall.com on April 23, 2010.
When President Obama was a candidate, he pledged over and over to voters: If you make less than $250,000 a year, your taxes will not go up. Voters read his lips. They hoped for change.
Yesterday, the President said that the Value Added Tax is “on the table.” That means it will be the main course served up after the November elections. After ramming through his ObamaCare bill on the narrowest of partisan margins last month, the President is finding that it’s going to be impossible to deliver on that massive new entitlement without hefty additional taxes. That’s why he’s enlisted “go along to get along” types like Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson— men who will never have to face the voters’ wrath— to stitch a fig leaf for an after-November major tax hike.
Margaret Thatcher used to say the problem with socialism is that soon you run out of other people’s money. The European socialism that is the President’s program will require a substantial increase in the already worrisome tax burden.
Last week, Mr. Obama scoffed at the TEA Party rallies on tax day. “You’d think they’d be saying ‘thank you,'” he told a fundraiser for embattled Sen. Barbara Boxer. TEA partygoers were not amused. Their title comes from the slogan: “Taxed Enough Already— TEA.” TEA partygoers know what the rest of the electorate is just finding out: the European-style social welfare system Obama wants cannot be supported without vast increases in revenue at every level of production. Of course, double-digit unemployment has also become a staple of Euro-socialism. An aging population is placing ever greater strains on those sclerotic economies. The Greeks expect the Germans to bail them out. The Euro is falling against the dollar. And the Europeans have just had a week to cool their heels while volcanic ash grounded most of their air travelers.
Europe is no model for the U.S.— even if we could mimic their behavior. Europeans have sub-contracted their defense and security needs to the Americans for generations. German Ambassador Klaus Scharioth last fall told a Washington audience that Germany was grateful for the sixty million U.S. troops who have served in his country since World War II.
That was a rare and gracious tribute to American power. But it also served to highlight Germany’s dependence on U.S. might for her defense. Now, a small contingent of German troops is serving with NATO forces in Afghanistan, and Germans are dying in defense of freedom for the first time in their long history. Germans are increasingly a part of a coalition of the unwilling. German soldiers in Afghanistan are openly questioning Berlin, demanding of Chancellor Merkel the reason they are in that war-torn country.
Germany can shrug. Atlas can’t. That’s why the U.S. cannot maintain military strength and Euro-socialism at the same time. Perhaps that’s what this administration really wants. President Obama’s curious— very curious— statement that we are a dominant military superpower “whether we like it or not” was most revealing. It was a statement from the soul of a Peace Prize winner, from the heart of a nuclear pacifist.
It may well be that this crisis that liberals don’t want to waste is being used precisely to end America’s role as the world’s dominant military superpower. It may be that the pacifist wing of the Democratic Party, the wing that nominated Obama, intends to use the VAT and ObamaCare as a means of disarming the U.S.
Soviet military power eventually collapsed because spending grew out of control. The Soviets had to leave Afghanistan. The left has always resented America’s ability to project force. Perhaps they understand there’s more than one way to bring the troops home.
Meanwhile, it is increasingly clear: If Obama keeps his majorities in Congress, he will give us a VAT. As endangered Freshman Tom Periello (D-VA) memorably put it: “Unless you tie our hands, we’ll keep stealing.”
President Obama’s Republican opponents have united around the theme of repealing ObamaCare. Now, they must add to that opposition another binding pledge: Stop VAT.