Last week, 11 European nations forged ahead to create a new tax while American Republicans walked backward into a no-new-tax trap.
On Jan. 22, the European Union gave 11 member countries — including economic giants Germany and France — permission to institute a financial transaction tax, a tiny fee charged on trades of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments.
On the same day, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner announced that he’d given failed Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan the task of preparing a budget that would end the federal deficit within a decade — without new taxes.
That stuck Ryan with grim choices. He can break America’s decades-old pledge of decency to the aged and infirm through Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. Or he can break the Republican pledge of no new taxes. Republicans put themselves in this position because they don’t understand Americans — hard-working people the GOP standard bearers called “takers.” Republicans do this to themselves because they don’t understand how much Americans rely on and plan their lives around the promise of Medicare and Social Security. They do this because they don’t have a clue that Americans would gladly impose a financial transaction tax on the Wall Street speculators who caused the Great Recession, which bloated the deficit.