Is it Hypocritical to Cut Taxes and be Concerned about the Deficit?


Democrats have leveled several different charges at Republicans during the debate over tax reform. While it can be fun to mercilessly mock claims that tax cuts will kill people (yes, that’s a real argument), I will instead focus on a more persistent and reasonable objection.

Many liberals claim it is hypocritical to cut taxes while expressing concern over the growing national debt. They are wrong.

As with all balance sheets, there are two sides to the national deficit: revenue and expenditures. We have burdened future generations with massive debts because government expenditures have continuously outstripped tax revenue.

This is the point where liberals shout at the screen that I just proved their argument, that reducing government revenue increases the debt and therefore Republicans only use the debt as a political weapon without really caring about its size.

Not so fast.

If Congressional Republicans did a sudden 180 and increased taxes by the same amount they want to cut them, we still would not have a balanced budget. The Federal Government could impose a draconian death tax that confiscates the entire inheritance of anyone with assets valued over $30,000 and it would barely put a dent in the national debt. If they wanted to, the Government could tax every man, woman, and illegal child laborer at a 100% tax rate and still not pay off the debt.

The problem isn’t a lack of revenue. The problem is runaway spending. There is no amount of taxation that could pay off the debt, even before Democrats institute the trillions in new spending they advocate for.

Conservatives support tax cuts for two primary reasons. First, tax cuts spur economic growth, which absent increased government spending, would help pay down the debt. Democrats may laugh at this, they may mock “trickle down economics.” But that does not mean Republicans are hypocrites. It means Democrats don’t understand economics.

Second, tax cuts are done as a matter of fairness. The people, not the government, earned that money. The people, not the government, woke up early, struggled through backbreaking work, provided a service people want, invented a new product, or risked their money so others could do these things. What right does the government have to confiscate any more of that than absolutely necessary?

Voting for tax cuts while warning of the looming crisis our national debt poses does not make Republican hypocrites. Voting to keep or expand our elephantine government spending, now that’s a different story.