When President Obama won re-election last month by a larger margin than even his most fervent supporters had expected, though with fewer popular votes than he received in 2008, most commentators initially opined that not much had changed in Washington. The president would remain in the White House for another four years, the Democrats would keep control of the Senate, and the House would stay in Republican hands. Most Republicans re-elected to both houses of Congress had publicly pledged not to vote to raise taxes under any circumstances. And most of those Republicans have adhered to that promise – until now.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the false congressional fiscal conservatives in the Republican Party began to reveal their true selves. Led by the Republican presidential standard bearer in 2008, Arizona Sen. John McCain, at least a half-dozen Republican members of Congress have renounced their public promises never to vote to raise taxes. In the case of Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Congressman and Senator-elect Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., they had re-stated their promises, directly or indirectly, as recently as last month during their successful campaigns. Did they blatantly dupe the voters? Did they genuinely change their minds? Did they ever sincerely accept the pro-freedom anti-tax logic?
The Founders certainly embraced the pro-freedom anti-tax logic, as they gave us a Constitution that barred the federal government from imposing any direct tax on any persons. That was part of the genius of the document. If the feds really needed cash, they’d need to tax the states. If the states were feeling over-taxed, they could block federal taxes in the Senate, where for 135 years senators were chosen by state governments as delegates to the Senate, rather than elected by voters. This procedure, too, was part of the Founders’ genius. It came about in order to assure a place at the federal table for the states, many of which were older than the federal government and all of which retained their sovereignty when they voluntarily joined the union. This procedure for choosing senators was also a check on the growth of the federal government.