- - Thursday, October 31, 2013

No government has taken as much sheer wealth from its citizens as the United States has done this year. The record-breaking $2.8 trillion federal haul represents $24,000 from every U.S. household. On average, that’s nearly half of each household’s total income. That would be enough for Croesus, the ancient king of Lydia famous in his day as the happiest and wealthiest man on earth. Croesus had it all. But Nancy Pelosi could teach him a thing or two about greed.

Mrs. Pelosi says she won’t negotiate spending cuts with Republicans unless she can squeeze more cash from American taxpayers. “Our position is that we’re going to the table in order to reduce the deficit, grow the economy, create jobs, end the sequester,” she told reporters Wednesday at her regular press gaggle. “Revenue needs to be on the table.” By signaling her desire to undo the grudging trimming of future spending increases as stipulated by the sequestration, Mrs. Pelosi reveals just how serious she isn’t about restoring sanity to the nation’s fiscal works.

The government’s budget rules perpetuate the expansion of spending and taxes. Tax increases go into effect immediately while spending cuts are pushed to the “out” years. “Out years” usually mean “never years.” In 1982, Congress cut a deal with President Reagan, promising to make $3 in spending cuts for every dollar he agreed to in tax increases. The “cuts” never happened, but the tax increases were very real. President George H.W. Bush was similarly snookered into abandoning his famous vow of “read my lips, no new taxes” in exchange for the grand bargain that cost him re-election, and sent the American economy into a tailspin.

House Speaker John A. Boehner has, so far, succeeded in holding the line against President Obama’s demands for more spending this year, but one of his key allies has signaled that the door is open for the government to further squeeze the taxpayer. Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a Republican budget negotiator, says pro-growth revenue-raising options are on the table.


Tea Party activists need not ready their pitchforks, as Mr. Cole is not a squish. “I would be willing to consider additional revenue achieved through pro-growth tax reform,” he says. “This would include measures such as the repatriation of stranded profits, additional revenue through expedited energy production on federal lands and offshore, and asset sales. None of these measures involve increasing taxes or tax rates, but all of them would yield additional revenue to the federal government.”

The government already takes too much, and every dollar put in the hands of Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama is a dollar that’s not in the hands of those who earned it, such as an entrepreneur in the private sector who could use it to expand his business, hire new employees and offer new products to consumers. America needs the reform of taxes and an end to double-taxing of foreign profits, which encourages U.S. firms to leave $1 trillion sitting in offshore accounts. We need more oil production to cut dependence on the Middle East, once and for all.

A bargain could be struck from this to make everyone happy — Mrs. Pelosi gets her revenue, and Republicans get job-creating reform. Such a deal of course won’t fly. Mrs. Pelosi, Mr. Obama and the rest of the Democratic caucus don’t just want more revenue. They want the tax code to make a statement, to hit “the rich” with an ever-increasing burden, regardless of the impact on the economy. This is the transformation of America Mr. Obama promised. Democrats won’t compromise because their vision of the American dream puts Croesus in the poorhouse.