Why are taxes so important?

Ezra Klein recently made a really good post offering a different approach to the grand bargain Obama has been chasing his entire presidency. It’s a great idea, but one section in particular stuck out to me.

To put it plainly, Democrats aren’t going to persuade Republicans to lift sequestration in return for a mix of entitlement cuts and tax increases. It doesn’t matter that those tax increases will come in the form of ending certain tax breaks. It doesn’t matter that Paul Ryan’s budget said these tax expenditures are “similar to government spending.” It doesn’t matter that raising taxes on the rich is popular.

At this point, the Republican opposition to taxes has nothing to do with policy. It has nothing to do with the economy. It’s religion. It’s dogma. It’s identity. Refusing to raise taxes is what it means to be a Republican in this day and age.

That’s certainly consistent with what I see, and I don’t understand it. That bothers me. I was a party line conservative until about 2006. Even where I disagree with them, I’m used to understanding the conservative perspective. But on this point that’s long gone. Keeping the government’s income from going up seems to be the line in the sand, the one issue that all Republicans agree is top priority. From a technical standpoint this makes no sense, and from a political standpoint I don’t understand why low taxes seems to have overshadowed everything else.

I don’t have a point to make here, I’m just lost on this one. Can anyone help me out?


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