Sam’s CLub Republicanism

Via Douthat, I see Noah Millman is arguing against payroll tax increases:

We shouldn’t be raising the payroll tax – we should be cutting it, and offsetting the cost of the cuts with spending cuts (means-test benefits?) and/or other tax hikes that will be less economically destructive (cut the mortgage deduction? institute a value-added tax?). Either party could grab this – the payroll tax is a tax on employment, a burden on business that discourages job creation; a regressive tax on hard-working people trying to put food on their families that exempts dividend-clippers and other trust-fund scumbags; an inducement to hire undocumented immigrants who live in the shadows – there are GOP-friendly and Democrat-friendly arguments to cut or eliminate the payroll tax and fund our Social Security obligations in a more economically efficient manner (and then we could have a healthy debate about what that manner might be). There ought to be a bidding war over who will do more for payroll tax relief! Instead, we’re going the other way.

The problem with this, and the Grand New Party idea in general is that this just isn’t what the Republican Party is about. Simply put, modern “conservative” fiscal policy isn’t about economic strength, job creation, or “fiscal responsibility,” it’s about making rich people a lot more money, and they’re damn good at it. This is why payroll tax rates exploded under Reagan, even as the top marginal tax rates were being slashed like it was going out of style. And maybe more even more illustrative, why Reagan signed the first tax bill to increase the bottom marginal rate (as in increase everyone’s taxes) while cutting the top rate. So it’s not so much that taxes are lowered just the tax burden, which definitively shifts down the income ladder.