[W]e have become quite accustomed through the repetition of this idea that the rich are somehow hurting the poor and disrupting the proper functioning of an engorged and profligate government.Permit me to reword the issue just a tad. Let’s say Joe is $100 in the hole and yet continues to spend money like a drunken fool. Mary has five bucks, which she declines to share because she has to buy food. Joe is insistent. His debt will get worse if Mary doesn’t help out. This may be true, but Mary isn’t convinced that helping Joe pay down his debt will do any good as long as he continues to spend. She’s betting that Joe will just dig a deeper hole, and she will have less security of her own.You see the problem. It isn’t the money. It’s the dishonesty of the argument. Allowing wealthier Americans to keep the amount of money they are now getting isn’t adding to the debt. Yet, the effect of this oft-repeated trope has been to demonize “the wealthy,” as if they somehow have wronged their fellow citizens by working hard and achieving what everyone else wants.
The analogy doesn't read right at all, unless Parker presumes that the "rich" are living on as tight a budget as Mary is. Her real point would be made more clearly if she would decide whether she's writing about the deficit or the debt. If we stick with the deficit, she would have a point if she meant to say that the only way the deficit grows is if we keep spending beyond our means. But if the subject is debt -- presumably the national debt -- then we can't cut the amount we owe already to creditors by spending less money. More money needs to come in before that debt can be paid off. Parker or someone else might argue that it's unfair to make the rich shoulder more of that burden if they, not being needy, never compelled the government to spend more than it took in, but the national debt remains a national responsibility, and the responsibility for paying it off ought to be distributed according to Americans' ability to pay without sacrificing a minimal standard of living. This is not a matter of "punishing success," as Parker implies -- no more than drafting Americans into the military in wartime would be "punishing life."
In any event, how much more dubious is the proposition that tax breaks expand our debt than the counter-notion, beloved of faith-based supply-siders, that cutting taxes always results in increased revenue and thus reduces both the deficit and the debt? We should at least be grateful, I suppose, that Parker doesn't make that claim, but her theme probably required a tone of intellectual modesty. I also suppose I should appreciate her efforts to be evenhanded, but sometimes two sides just aren't equally wrong. Twisting arguments to make them appear so, for the sake of appearing nonpartisan oneself, is just another symptom of Bipolarchy pathology.