Joseph Avenue Christmas is the story of one man's journey to the true meaning of Christmas. Not just the birth of the babe, but the salvation of the soul. Set on the wintry streets of Rochester, NY it is a visit to the heart of that city and the hearts of some of its best and bravest people. From their good example, and the simple lessons of their own lives and faith, a troubled man finds on a dark Christmas Eve an escape from an increasingly failed life.
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I met Grover Norquist once.
He was personable and gracious. It was at a meeting of Republicans and we both spoke and we each seemed well received by the crowd.
I liked what he had to say and he seemed to like what I had to say.
But I’ve been tired of him for a long time now. His basic message – no new taxes – is a wise one, and is a foundation of conservative thought.
But it’s not the hill to die on.
The level of taxation is neither the central problem nor solution facing America today. In the constellation of existential threats bearing down on our country, taxes is third or fourth.
Which means we may have to punt third or fourth in order to fix first and second.
Don’t get me wrong. Taxes are too high. Taxes are fundamentally perverted. Taxes have been used as a weapon against the people and as fuel for redistribution.
But right now we’ve got bigger fish to fry.
Like fixing entitlements. And by “fixing” I mean gutting. That’s the God’s-honest truth that nobody is willing to say. We have so over promised in the entitlement area that we have reached the realm of impossibility.
Medicare, Medicaid, the various forms of welfare, Social Security disability, even some of Social Security itself, all are unsustainable. They are socialist cancers that directly threaten the prosperity and stability of the United States.
Entitlements are a monster that must be bodily beaten back into its lair.
If we have to raise some taxes to get enough Democrats to sign off on entitlement reforms, then so be it.
An even bigger threat is the entirety of the budget deficit, and its consequent debt.
These constitute a clear and present danger to the security, prosperity and even existence of the United States.
We have played around with this viper for too long, and it has bitten us too many times.
Unless we dramatically and fundamentally reduce our deficit and begin to redeem our debt, we will crash the entire world and we will kill what remains of our country.
That is not an exaggeration, that is a reality.
And if we have to raise taxes to fight the deficit and pay down the debt, then we have to do it.
There are no two ways about it.
Of course, when we raise taxes, we need to do so in a truly fair way. And that is “fair” as defined by the dictionary, not the Democrats.
First of all, the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax have to get in the game. If they have income, it should be taxed.
Welfare checks should be taxed. Everyone should have skin in the game, everyone should feel the bite. When we exclude half the population from the consequences of fiscal irresponsibility, we can look forward to nothing but ever more dangerous fiscal irresponsibility.
We should raise taxes through the elimination of tax credits. No more earned-income tax credit, no more child tax credit, no more mortgage deduction, no more charitable deduction, no more loopholes and payouts.
Raising taxes isn’t just about ripping off the high producers whose pocket you’ve already picked, it’s about recognizing that we are all in this together, and we should all be expected to dig us out.
Even Democrat voters.
Some Republicans are getting headlines for declaring that they will break the no-tax pledge they signed for Grover Norquist.
While I do note that it’s easier to break a pledge right after an election than it is right before, I have always resented this Norquist pledge.
Personally, I don’t believe elected representatives should take any pledge other than their oath of office.
And they shouldn’t make promises to activists, they should make promises to constituents.
If Grover Norquist lives in a congressman’s district, that congressman should pay attention to him. But that leaves the other 434 free to completely ignore him.
And in this instance they should ignore him.
Even better, he should release them from their pledges. He should do what he has done for years – offer clear vision and leadership. Only he should broaden his focus.
He should acknowledge that a trade-off ratio, in which X number of dollars in federal spending are cut for each new dollar of revenue, is a worthwhile reason to agree to new taxes.
Especially if those new taxes are collected as the result of a dramatic reform of the tax code, and from a spreading of the tax burden across the entirety of society.
If tax is meant to redistribute, you tax the rich. If tax is meant to keep the government solvent, you tax everyone.
The Democrats tax to redistribute. The Republicans tax to save the country.
And the country needs to be saved.
There is no easy way. It cannot be done pain free. It is going to hurt like heck, maybe for a long time.
But it’s got to happen, and it’s got to happen now. And if it takes a broken tax pledge to get it started, fine. If it takes new tax revenues, fine.
And if Grover Norquist has stopped being part of the solution, he’s got to get out of the way.