I’ve heard it said in a number of places, by countless commentators, so much so that I think it’s become part of the script. It goes along with those who tell us that the Roberts treason has a silver lining, because it makes plain that Obama is imposing new taxes all over the place. This, along with the economy, is said to be the reason Mitt Romney can win. I have given this a bit of thought, because it’s been conventional wisdom for so long that most now accept it as something of a truism. Mitt Romney, they say, now has the biggest tax increases in history against which to run, a veritable “taxmageddon,” they’re calling it, scheduled to being hammering tax-payers in 2013. The so-called Bush tax-cuts will expire, and of course, all of the new Obama-care “taxes” will begin to phase in. The problem most Republicans seem not to have noticed, and the reason Romney is in far worse shape than many understand: Many don’t care that taxes are going up. As Joe Biden might say, “BFD!” It may not matter if taxes were doubled. It may not matter how much the Federal Government under the leadership of Obama raises taxes. Taxes may no longer matter as an election issue, and there are two compelling reasons to take this seriously.
The first glaring reason that many voters won’t take this seriously is that even among the few who pay attention, they’re accustomed to hearing outrageous claims by campaigns against their opponents. Most of the claims boil down to some form of “If you vote for my opponent, a plague will descend upon you, and your children will be carried off by the bogeyman, and the country will melt into the fires of hell and there will be starving people in the street, and you’ll be homeless, naked, and penniless.” Voters have heard this from both sides so often that whether one side or the other may actually speak plainly about it for a change, most of the relatively low number of voters who pay attention only within the six weeks preceding the election(at best) will feel as though they’ve “heard it all before,” and chances are, they’re right. The problem is that politicians inflate things all the time. It’s the norm. The last time a presidential nominee explained the facts and had no need to embellish, and could merely point to the complete disaster at hand was Ronald Reagan, because all the evidence supported everything he said. People were living it.
This ought to weigh in Mitt Romney’s favor, and it would, if we were living in 1980 America. The problem is, we are living in 2012 America, and it’s a very different country. Consider that we have millions who have spent 99 weeks on unemployment. Consider that we have roughly fifty million people receiving foodstamps. Consider that we have a total adult workforce that constitutes fewer than one-fourth of the total population. We may have passed that critical point at which more people are now beneficiaries of big government than are paying for it, and if this is the case, the economy could become a good deal worse, and it wouldn’t matter because Mitt Romney’s tax arguments, if he were to make one, would fall on the deaf ears of those who have a net tax rate less than or equal to zero. If we’ve passed that tipping point, Romney can make the tax argument until he’s blue in the face, but it won’t matter to the outcome. More, with Obama-care now uninterrupted in its implementation by the court, there is now one more inducement to the non-workers, and that is why Democrats were willing to walk the plank in 2010 when the law was passed: They knew once it was in place, we would never be rid of it without revolution.
Of course, it’s not as though all tax-payers will side with Romney, because you can count on the unions to show up and support Obama. You can bet that the education establishment will support Obama. The trial lawyers will be there. In short, all of the usual Democrat constituencies, even those who actually earn a living, are likely to support Obama over Romney because they are either doctrinaire leftists, or because they’ve accepted the language of class envy. Either way, Romney doesn’t stand a chance in hell of getting their votes. When you consider this together with the legion of dependency-bound persons who live in large measure or entirely from the system, without effort, you’re looking at what appears to be a majority of voters, or something very close to it. Romney is going to need to become creative, and find other ways to convince voters, because I no longer have confidence that taxes are a winning issue with the majority of the electorate any longer.
After all, if you say to the millions upon millions of government dependents that you will now reduce the size of government, what they hear is “I’m going to cut your subsidy.” That’s a disaster they can believe in, and it’s the only one they are inclined to see as relevant. After all, they’re not paying the bills, and they don’t have any moral compunction whatever about robbing those who do. Romney can’t rely upon this as his line of attack because for so many voters, it’s now ineffective. Not only are they carefree about taxes because they’re not paying them, but also because they know that the taxes are supporting them through various federal programs. Romney’s fifty-nine point economic plan is irrelevant to many, because apart from siphoning off the economy, they’re not participants in it, and have no intentions of changing that sad fact. Knowing this, I’m not certain why anybody makes the argument any longer, but in Romney’s case, it may be even less effective, as Democrats now make the case that he sheltered millions offshore.
Taxes have sadly moved into the same realm as the deficit and the debt as election issues. Everybody pays these the appropriate lip service, but the truth is that our system of taxation has become so lop-sided that too many Americans don’t care. There are simply too few with “skin in the game,” as Barack Obama would say, because they simply don’t pay for any of the government expenditures, and probably never will. Our massive welfare-state needs a massive overhaul, but we may have passed the point at which we could expect to have popular support to do it. Mitt Romney may campaign with taxes as his prime issue with which to drive support at the polls, but it seems as though it may no longer be enough as the traditional Republican strategy loses effectiveness. This is made worse by the fact that for many of those who have heard this talk, and actually want something done about it, they may have low expectations that Romney or any establishment Republican would do the first thing about it. They have every reason to be doubtful.