Fiscal Conservatism and Social Pragmatism
I am hoping that the Democratic party is developing a new mindset around the shared concept of fiscal conservatism and social pragmatism.
Hillary Clinton's recent remarks to an pro-life group that reducing unwanted pregancies was a shared goal of the pro-life and anti-abortion movement was an example of just the kind of pragmatism that is required, and is desired by the average voter.
On the subject of fiscal conservatism, I think it should be the centerpiece of the new democratic agenda, led by a balanced budget, a social security reform plan that makes sense, and a flat tax.
Tom Watson has a great post up today on the flat tax and social security reform that is exactly what I am talking about. He quotes a guy named Tom K in this post who says:
I am against an absurdly complex tax code that taxes honesty more than any other quality, and rewards the obsessive pursuit of tax avoidance more than any other behavior.
I'd like to see no taxation for the working poor and possibly the lower middle class, and a flatter tax structure overall -- even entirely flat if possible (putting aside the fact that it will not kick in until, say, $40,000).
But far more importantly, I want to see a system that the average person has some reasonable prospect of understanding, and a system that does not lead to billions of dollar a year being spent finding and exploiting loopholes, which typically are available only to the very rich because the professional costs of taking advantage of them are prohibitive unless you're going to save tens of millions of dollars.
In short, our current system isn't really progressive; it taxes honest people, not rich people, disproportionately. Worse, it re-defines "honesty" downward: if you don't take advantage of any avoidance options that you can afford to exploit, you aren't being "honest" - just as people taking advantage of legal avoidance options aren't "dishonest." It makes a sucker of he who is not a schemer, and could be much fairer and simpler and, I would submit, more "progressive" with a flattening of rates.
I agree with Tom K and I would love to see the Democratic party take this issue and run with it.