Reading the comments section of any posted opinion piece on internet sites can be helpful in focusing your attention on issues that seem less than clear upon your own reading: a way of paying attention through a third party, an intellectual refraction that brings focus to your thoughts. Mr. Douthat’s essay of November 24, 2012 titled Our Enemy, The Payroll Tax is more of the same from this Conservative opinionator. The Conservative project is to subvert what is left of New Deal and Great Society programs, Social Security and Medicare, dismissively called ‘entitlements’ ( I put this word in quotation marks because it is lie.) And the means to this end is to end the payroll tax. End the revenue stream and you end these programs. As presented by Mr. D. it’s more like eliminating these programs on a kind of installment plan. His polemic, coming so quickly after Romney’s decisive defeat – one wonders at this moment of questioning for American Conservatism 2012, what Mr. Douthat is thinking?
He manages to rehearse the many rhetorical voices of that Conservatism: the screeching political theology that sees every political event as a mortal combat between God and Mammon, the cry of anti-tax fundamentalism, the inherent evil of bipartisanship and more importantly this paranoid gem:
“Payroll taxes are a relic of New Deal Machiavellianism: by taking a bite of every worker’s paycheck and promising postretirement returns, Franklin Roosevelt effectively disguised Social Security as a pay-as-you-go system, even though the program actually redistributes from rich to poor and young to old.”
The most salient question here is : when have the Republicans done anything for young or old?
But more importantly Mr. Douthat does not address the failure of American Capital to provide the good jobs that Americans need, this in the face of massive corporate profits, long after the government bailout. Good jobs with benefits: in order to buy a home, support a family, send their children to college, and retire in economic comfort rather than want. After long argument is support of the renewal of the payroll tax holiday:
“So there is only one question conservatives should be asking about the payroll tax holiday: How do we make it permanent?”