"We must demonstrate how limited government brings personal benefit to everyday Americans. And how big government wrecks family budgets"
For 2012 and beyond, America’s course will be set by whoever wins the hearts and minds of the middle class. Many are caught or confused by the tug-of-war between the left and the right. Today conservatives’ long-time argument of lowering taxes no longer persuades most Americans—because half of us no longer pay federal income taxes.
Appealing solely to national interest won’t win votes unless it’s accompanied by appeals to self-interest. The appeal must overcome the fact that the middle class now receives ever-growing government benefits. Less obvious is that they pay dearly for these, even when not paying direct taxes. Many important and everyday things have become unaffordable or unavailable due to federal policies, plus the passed-through cost of taxes and out-of-control regulations on business and investors.
Conservatives must demonstrate how big government destroys family budgets. Our arguments must resonate at the kitchen table where families sit down to review finances and make decisions.
The left has lost credibility as economic security keeps slipping away. The all-embracing arms of Big Brother are a poor substitute for the merits of self-reliance. But frustration with government no longer clinches the argument because so many millions of Americans—about half—have been excused from federal income taxes. A tax-centered message no longer appeals to everyone’s self-interest.
Support for conservatives remains strong from those committed to constitutional limits on power, to personal responsibility and to robust national defense. But that falls short of a winning coalition. We must demonstrate how limited government brings personal benefit to everyday Americans. And how big government wrecks family budgets, as it does in many ways:
- Federal policies are a key cause of rising electricity and gasoline prices.
- The federal role in driving health costs sky-high is a huge untold story.
- Few people realize how Washington established a quota system favoring very-low incomes, dictating mortgage lending to a great many who could not afford to buy homes. This sparked the mortgage meltdown that launched our current economic mess.
- EPA mandates kill jobs.
- Appliances become unaffordable.
- Fuel mileage rules drive up car prices while making passengers less safe—trying to save expensive gasoline that would be more affordable if we allowed more drilling stateside and offshore.
- Then we subsidize ethanol that lowers fuel economy while raising food prices.
- Obama admitted his plans will make energy prices skyrocket.
- Federal loans and grants are supposed to make college more affordable. Instead they contribute to ever-escalating tuition costs. And so do federal incentives that removed state funding from colleges.
The list goes on. Big government programs supposedly exist to rescue us from a multitude of costly problems. But too often our problems are caused by a government that’s out-of-control. The Kitchen Table Agenda series describes how these clobber the budgets of middle-class families.
In a series of simple one-page papers, Ernest Istook, host of Istook Live! (available at www.istook.com), former Congressman and now Distinguished Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, outlines how big government destroys the purchasing power of today’s families, which often hurts them more than raising their taxes. Rev 09-18-2012