To understand the modern Republican Party and predict their actions, one only needs this one four-word phrase: All taxation is theft.
Besides the minimum taxes necessary to pay for national defense and basic law enforcement, the Republican Party treats all taxation as theft. All evidence points to this as the guiding principle of the current Republican Party. If you use this as your guiding rod, you will do a much better job of predicting the behavior of the Republican party than you will listening to statements from Republican leaders.
Too much political reporting at the moment is focused on politicians’ public statements and too little on judging politicians solely on their votes, their floor actions, and the bills they cosponsor.
Recently, there were two perfect examples of how statements from Republican senators are not only worthless, but in fact, worse than worthless. The more one listened to and trusted the statements of these Republican senators, the more incorrect one’s predictions were regarding the legislation in question.
Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee repeatedly promised to vote against any version of the tax bill that would add to the deficit, only to vote for basically the same tax bill that added significantly to the deficit only one month later.
Similarly, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona received heaps of praise last summer as he demanded a return to regular order only to vote for a reconciliation tax cut bill forced through on a partisan vote with almost no committee meetings or even time for basic policy analysis.
If one completely ignores what Republicans have said about their concerns about morality, deficits, life, regular order, norms, etc. and look only at their votes, “all taxation is theft” explains their behavior better than any other insight.
Why did Republicans vote for a very unpopular bill that primarily cut taxes for the rich? If “all taxation is theft,” the rich are most burdened by this injustice so they deserve the biggest relief.
Why do the Republicans tolerate a seemingly unhinged president with a history of assaulting women? Because he will sign massive tax cuts into law which would end this theft.
Why would Republicans end the state and local tax deduction that hurts liberal states and cities? Because it may compel these states to cut taxes and end the theft at a local level by punishing states that engage in theft.
Why would Republicans claim to care about “life” but still not fund the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to provide health care to children? Because taxation is theft, and they would not support theft even for children; that is why they demand cuts elsewhere to pay for funding CHIP.
Why did the party, which claims to care about the deficit, reject a deal with President Barack Obama that would have implemented a small tax increase and large program cuts? Because that would still mean supporting theft.
The entire Republican Party focus on the “deficit” makes far more sense if one considers their guiding principle is that all taxation is theft.
If fixing the deficit means trying to balance revenue and expenses until they match, as it does to most people, the Republicans look like hypocrites. But from the perspective that all taxation is theft, a massive tax cut that adds to the deficit is good. This reduces theft and forces cuts later. The only part of the deficit that matters is spending on public programs because that will necessitate theft later to pay for them.
As long as public statements from Republicans provide zero predictive power for what policies they will enact, the whole journalistic profession has to re-examine how they cover policymaking.
The point of policy reporting should not be to pass along statements but to give people information about what is likely to happen and how that will impact them. To do that, the public must look at how politicians vote and use that to construct a model to predict their behavior. So far, assuming all decision-making is driven by the principle that “all taxation is theft” is the only way it makes sense.