In general, there are two major sides to the tax cut debate.
One believes that Americans are entitled to keep what they earn, but that they cede some money to the government with the understanding that funding is necessary to enable the state to safeguard citizens' rights - the state's most fundamental function.
The opposing side holds, in short, that Americans are entitled to their wealth only to the extent that the rule of the majority - i.e. the government - allows them to keep it.
The Washington Post has apparently adopted and endorsed this latter view, also known as liberal tax policy, not only in its editorial stance, but throughout its "straight news" reporting operation.
WaPo reporter Lori Montgomery, for instance, believes that every dollar not collected in taxes is a dollar of which the federal government has been "deprived." Or, put another way in her Wednesday article, she rejects the notion that every dollar collected in taxes is a dollar of which taxpayers have been deprived:
Even as they hammer Democrats for running up record budget deficits, Senate Republicans are rolling out a plan to permanently extend an array of expiring tax breaks that would deprive the Treasury of more than $4 trillion over the next decade, nearly doubling projected deficits over that period unless dramatic spending cuts are made.
The measure, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) this week, would permanently extend the George W. Bush-era income tax cuts that benefit virtually every U.S. taxpayer, rein in the alternative minimum tax and limit the estate tax to estates worth more than $5 million for individuals or $10 million for couples.
Aides to McConnell said they have yet to receive a cost estimate for the measure. But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently forecast that a similar, slightly more expensive package that includes a full repeal of the estate tax would force the nation to borrow an additional $3.9 trillion over the next decade and increase interest payments on the national debt by $950 billion. That's more than four times the projected deficit impact of President Obama's health-care overhaul and stimulus package combined.
The key word in the lede is "deprive." In order for congressional Republicans to deprive Treasury of tax revenue, the federal government must have either already been collecting that revenue, or it must have been entitled to it.
Sympathetic voices will no doubt howl that Montgomery was only noting if the GOP plan passes, the federal government will get less revenue - Treasury will be deprived of tax dollars. But again, that point frames the issue as one of the government's claims to taxpayers' wealth, not those taxpayers' claims to their own wealth.
Haven't the latter been deprived by taxation?
We know Treasury has not been taking in this revenue, and much of the confusion about what exactly Congress is debating derives from a failure to grasp this fact. Ed Morrissey explains:
The extensions would simply continue the status quo, not deduct revenue the government receives now. These are not tax cuts, as the bill doesn't change the current tax rates at all. The bill would instead prevent a massive $4 trillion tax increase.
The extensions don't force the government to borrow an additional $4 trillion over the next decade, either. Instead, they could simply cut spending, an option that apparently escapes the imagination of Ms. Montgomery. A freeze at the spending level of the last Republican Congress budget of $2.77 trillion per year (FY2007) could save more than a trillion dollars each year over the next decade. A freeze at the level suggested by John Boehner (FY2008, $3.1 trillion) would save more than $700 billion per year, almost twice as much as Montgomery claims we would need to borrow because of the tax extensions.
Since Treasury hasn't already been taking in this revenue, Montgomery's use of the word "deprive" implies that Treasury is entitled to it, even if the cash hasn't been flowing. In other words, she has endorsed the notion that the distribution of wealth is a legitimate function of the federal government, and that citizens only have a secondary claim to their earnings.
The Post apparently takes for granted this attitude towards tax cuts. The paper is framing the issue in a manner decidedly more amenable to the Democrat position on tax cuts not in its editorial pages, but among its purportedly-objective news content.
Let there be no more doubt concerning the paper's bias on this issue.