It is natural for activists and high-information voters to believe that their preferred policies will help their party win elections, and it is understandable that they interpret electoral defeats as punishments for following the wrong policies. ... It is part of a mentality that says that we can have it all, which is the same mentality responsible for overwhelming public support for entitlement programs combined with strong hostility to paying for them.
One thing I do agree on, even as a liberal: the government can't pay for absolutely everything unless the citizens agree to pay for it through taxes. I will argue with anyone who thinks that we don't need a strong defense, or that we don't need social safety nets like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. We need them. These are the pillars of our strength as a nation. And the revenues we generate do not cover these pillars, so we have to borrow more and more every year to keep them going. Eliminating the libertarian big three -- Education, Energy, and Transportation (see, Rick, even I can remember the third one) -- won't make a dent. Slashing foreign aid down to zero won't do it either. Eliminating all earmarks won't do it. And even combined, they won't do it. Only a fair, progressive form of taxation, combined with fiscal discipline and the balls to stick to it, will do it. The reasons why tax revenues are so low compared to spending are numerous, but a major reason is that the middle class, who hold less than 20% of the nation's wealth, shoulder the greatest responsibility for providing revenue to the country. They pay a greater share of their incomes in taxes than do the richest 1%, whose high-paid accountants and tax attorneys figure out ways for them to shield their incomes from the government. If GE can get away with zero federal income tax, there's something wrong with the system. And it's made worse by a lobbying effort by corporations to get their representatives to fight against any attempt to raise their taxes, or to create special loopholes for them to avoid paying taxes.
If we want to keep very popular programs fully funded, we need to stop saying, "Let someone else pay for them." We all need to pay for them, but we need to reform the system that allows too many of the richest among us not to pay for them.