Three leading Republican senators have now indicated that they
would be open to additional tax revenue to help balance the budget,
even if it means violating their 20-year-old pledge to never
increase revenues for the federal government. Could it be that the
Republican Party is again moving toward accepting that some
redistribution is a necessary part of our modern economy?
The word redistribution has a bad reputation in Republican
circles and certainly is something of which to be cautious. But it
has also been a key to creating the society we have. We tend not to
think about it, but the government redistributes in many different
ways. Public education is a form of redistribution, ensuring that
even the children of poor parents have access to a quality
education. Interstate highways are a form of redistribution, as is
federal disaster relief.
Numerous government laws promote income redistribution. The 40-
hour work week means more workers are needed for any business.
Minimum wage laws put a floor on what must be paid. The right to
unionize gives workers leverage to secure better wages. All of these
laws combine to cause business owners to pay higher wages than they
would have in an unfettered free market all force a redistribution
of the benefits of capitalism.
Government redistribution is a result of a compromise our country
reached in the 1930s. While parts of the world were turning to
socialism, the United States chose democratic capitalism and
redistribution instead. This compromise, redistribution, gave our
workers the money to buy things and the time to enjoy life. Clever
entrepreneurs responded by creating things for people to buy, vacuum
cleaners and radios and vacation packages. Yes, the entrepreneurs
were a little less wealthy than they would have been because they
had to share some of the benefits of their cleverness with their
workers, but a virtuous circle was created more money in the hands
of workers created markets for more consumer goods, which led to
demand for more workers to build the consumer goods.
This compromise, redistribution, helped us to grow to be one of
the most prosperous nations. Its easy to forget, but just 12 years
ago we had a thriving economy and a federal government that was able
to fulfill its obligations within a balanced budget.
Historically, the Republican Party has accepted this compromise
as a necessary part of our modern world (and as a necessary part of
getting elected there are far more employees than business owners). …