From Daniel Henninger:
At a time when the American people need to make some decisions about the nation’s purpose, along comes Barack Obama to make the choices crystal clear.
In one corner of the world you have Europe, beset by a sovereign debt crisis that’s been building for 50 years. The U.K.’s new prime minister, David Cameron, promises his people years of austerity to dig out from beneath their debt. Americans, staring at fiscal crevasses opening across Europe, have to decide if they also wish to spend the next 50 years laboring mainly to produce tax revenue to pay for public workers’ pensions and other public promises. The private sector would exist for the public sector.
In another corner of the world, wealth is rising from the emerging economies of the east—China, India, Korea and the rest—posing America’s greatest economic challenge in anyone’s lifetime. Do the American people want to throw in the towel, or do they want to compete? If the latter, the public sector has to give way to the private sector.
Now the clarifying gods have delivered a gift for the November election, the fight over taxes. Somewhere, George W. Bush must be laughing. Amid 9.5% unemployment, Democrats must deal with the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. They are trying to thread this needle by pushing a “middle class” extension through the hole, while impaling “the rich” on a tax spike.
This election and these times are a chance to put to the voters opposed visions of why we work and what we do with the money we earn.
If voters ultimately feel more secure with a Barack Obama and the like designing a national itinerary for some 300 million people in 50 states, then certainly one should vote for letting taxes rise now on one class of Americans and imposing a VAT next year on everyone. They need a whole lot of money, so give it to them to the horizon. We work, they decide.
The alternative vision is that to compete for the next 50 years, the U.S. is going to need a tax structure that keeps more of the nation’s decisions about using its wealth in the hands—and minds—of millions of intelligent citizens, from any economic class. They work, they decide.