“Those who do not know history are destined to repeat it.” – Edmund Burke
Four years ago the nation was eagerly anticipating the high hope of change that it was promised. In this lame duck session we find ourselves in a remarkably similar situation. We are in a nearly identical situation as we were merely two years ago. And the debates of the spring of 2011 are being rehashed again and again on the floor of Congress. Should we raise or extend the tax cuts signed in 2001? Do we need to curtail our spending or raise taxes on the villainous 1%? What are the ramifications of perilously skirting the edge of our debt ceiling? Why are the Republicans holding the government hostage with their intransigence? Why are the Democrats focused on a politically significant but economically irrelevant portion of the tax base instead of cutting severe government overspending? The answer is that none of the debates are centered on actually solving this recurring crisis. As we have discussed before, our current tax code is far too complicated for revenue to be its only goal. It now involves shifting societal norms through the punishment of taxes and gaining political footing by dividing the segments of the electorate.
We have not seen a brand new era of politics, only a blatant retread of the exact same arguments that we have had before. The current fiscal cliff we are approaching was set in motion because Congress could not agree in the debt discussions and the super committee talks of 2011. We decided that kicking the can down the road would give our leaders enough time to figure out an equitable solution that would resolve the problem. Yet here we are, having the same conversation. It is frustrating for me to write about; since this is a topic we have covered repeatedly. We need to remember the discussions that are taking place right now because when they inevitably recur we need to pounce. I cannot be the only person slowly losing my mind by the endless repetitive nature of our tax discussions; we can easily sell the FairTax as an answer to the constantly shifting tax rates.
The likelihood of making dramatic inroads for the FairTax during the lame duck session is remote. For now we can build the base of our support which means laying the groundwork for the upcoming intellectual argument that we will need to win. Utilizing one of my least favorite clichés, Einstein once defined insanity as, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” As this becomes increasingly apparent we must be sure to remind people of the mistake of continuing down an already beaten path. We invariably find ourselves looking at the same fork in the road; the one we know all too well has taken us closer and closer to a steep cliff marked by economic failure. It is time for us to take the road less travelled by, to begin our journey back along a road marked with recognition of the link between individual liberty and responsibility. While some are unflinching in viewing this past election as a defeat for FairTax, we need to see the possibilities that have arisen. Government will continue as it has done, unimpeded, for nearly a century. We must use this opportunity to show the dangers of economic insanity, and the virtues of our plan. The danger of the cliff approaches, whatever action is taken we can expect to see it again. Recognize the patterns of history so that you can step into them and alter the course of destiny.