Great Idea from the Left: Have Candidates Sign Pledges to Increase Taxes and Spendingby Stephen Gordon
While trashing a positive review of a Republican candidate I just wrote over at The Next Right, the good folks over at The American Prospect inadvertently came up with a good idea. I was describing a recent conversation with Tim James, who is running for governor in Alabama:
When I had the opportunity, I asked James if I could ask him a quick question. “Sure,” he replied. The question I lobbed at him was whether or not he would absolutely commit to not increasing taxes if elected governor.
“No problem,” he responded. “Got a tougher one?”
I pitched the second question a bit harder, but his response came as quickly as the first one. I asked if he’d commit to not increasing state spending. “That’s easy,” he said. “You got a tough one for me, now?”
“Okay,” I responded, and threw him a bit of a curveball. “Would you mind signing a pledge to this effect?”
“I’d love to…,” he stated. Later on, we set up a telephone call to deal with speaking arrangements for an upcoming event and the pledge issue.
It all seems so flippant. Even given the conservative predilection for smaller governments and the ubiquity of Grover Norquist’[s] conservative loyalty oaths, is it wise for any potential chief executive to completely tie their hands, especially in a time of recession? It speaks to a rigid ideological prism rather than the attitude of addressing problems on their own merits.
Now here’s where the awesome idea comes from (emphasis added):
Most of America’s successful conservative executives would have violated both of those pledges; it’s as foolish a set of strictures as if Democrats demanded that their candidates sign pledges to raise taxes and increase spending.
The idea isn’t as foolish as Fernholz suggests. According to the Americans for Tax Reform website, “The idea of the Pledge is simple enough: Make them put their no-new-taxes rhetoric in writing.” For the sake of simple honesty, I’d love to see candidates running on tax-and-spending-increase rhetoric.
If today’s Democrats (along with Republicans such as Senators Snowe, Collins and Specter) wish to outspend even the Republicans on corporate bailouts and stimulate the economy with trillions of dollars we don’t have, why not at least be honest about it? Here’s an applicable rewrite of Grover Norquist’s gubernatorial pledge for candidates running on a big-government platform:
I, ____, pledge to the taxpayers of the State of ________, that I will support and sign any and all efforts to increase taxes.
I also like the Republican Liberty Caucus pledge. Here’s the new Slavery Compact:
Decrease liberty, not promote it; expand government, not shrink it; increase taxes, don’t cut them; create programs, not abolish them; despoil the freedom and independence of citizens, increasing the interference of government in their lives; and absolutely disregard the limited, enumerated powers of our Constitution, not promote them.
If politicians are going to legislate and govern expansive and ever expanding government programs, it sure would be nice to see some honesty in advertising as they run for public office.