In a recent column in the Post Crescent about the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Mike Muoio seems dissatisfied with the effectiveness that the Pledge has with preventing tax hikes. His misplaced anger is emblematic of tax-and-spenders in Washington who are more and more upset that voters demand reasonable tax reform that excludes tax hikes. He even goes so far to state that Pledge signers like Senator Ron Johnson violate the U.S. Constitution. Muoio’s claims are baseless and untrue.
The Pledge is not to Grover Norquist or Americans for Tax Reform. Muoio, having included the text of the Pledge in his post, should have taken a moment to read it. The Pledge is a written commitment to the constituents in every state and Congressional district to oppose higher taxes. If Muoio has an issue with the effectiveness of the anti-tax message, perhaps his concerns should be directed at the American taxpayer. That is where the power of the Pledge rests: taxpayers who demand that politicians get serious about spending reform by taking tax hikes off the table.
When Senator Johnson signed the Pledge, he put his commitment to stand with taxpayers in writing to Wisconsin citizens. This is the same commitment that Governor Walker made as well. Both were rewarded by voters for their understanding that higher taxes are a non-starter in any budget discussions.
The greatest domestic enemy of American taxpayers is a Congress that refuses to get serious about reining in Washington’s addiction to overspending. To suggest that by making a promise to United States taxpayers to oppose higher taxes is in violation of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution is to suggest that the ability to tax is the same as the responsibility to tax more. Such a suggestion should certainly offend any college professor who has ever taught a lesson on logical fallacies and anyone with an elementary understanding of the Constitution itself. Voters certainly seem to disagree.
Muoio goes on to suggest by signing the Pledge to taxpayers, Congressional signers may be unable to meet the fundamental requirements of the federal government. There are two reasons that this fails to meet the smell test for reasonableness.
First and foremost, American taxpayers expect Congress to spend within their means. Spending one trillion dollars more annually than the federal government takes in is both unsustainable and asinine. This is exactly what we’ve done since President Obama took office. American families and most U.S. states are required to balance their budgets. There is no reason that Congress cannot take a hint from those whom they were elected to serve.
Second, Muoio seems to suggest that in order to provide for the general welfare, Congress has to be open to higher taxes. He suggests that Pledge signers put at risk Congress’s ability to pay for national security needs, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment, etc. Unfortunately Muoio is unaware that Congress is unable to pay the bills for all of the general welfare programs it has created.
American taxpayers do not expect Congress to continue to pay for things it cannot afford. American taxpayers expect Congress to reform the tax code to be simpler and fairer. American taxpayers expect Congress to work on bringing down the cost of programs that are unsustainable through reforms that are fiscally responsible. That is what Pledge signers understand and what the American taxpayer demands.
The Taxpayer Protection Pledge is not simply a political position; it is a concrete and written commitment to a candidate’s constituents to get serious about Washington’s true problem: overspending. Only by taking tax hikes off the table are any sort of genuine spending reforms possible.
The generic talking points about what the writer of this column demand include: rational tax policy, and sustainable expense reduction and fiscal policy. Americans for Tax Reform and Pledge signers agree. That’s exactly why they promise their constituents to take tax hikes off the table.