link A Famliar Tax Tune, but It's Not Mine By BEN STEIN New York Times Published: August 9, 2008 A FEW days ago, I saw Senator John McCain on television saying something I had heard a few times before. Basically, he said that if you want to have your taxes raised, don’t vote for him. Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of Senator McCain. He’s got guts. He had a harrowing five years in captivity for his country. His son serves in Iraq and the senator never talks about it. And, I do not want my taxes raised. I already pay a staggering amount of tax and I don’t care for it. In fact, I would like to pay no tax at all. I could have so much more to prepare for onrushing old age. But the unhappy fact is that it’s necessary to raise my taxes and the taxes of all upper-income Americans. (I do wish, however, that “upper income” started just a dollar above me.) The sad truth of the last two two-term Republican presidents is that their economic premise, the key part of their economic game plan, simply has not done what it’s supposed to do. That is, cutting taxes, especially on upper-income Americans, does not generate so much economic activity that it replaces all the lost I.R.S. take and then some. At least those have been the results so far. When Ronald Reagan lowered taxes, personal income tax revenue stagnated from 1982 to 1984. Now, you may say that revenue rose sharply after that. So maybe that was a mixed result. But when President Bush drastically cut taxes after he was first elected, the I.R.S. take from individual income taxes fell and did not recover its 2001 level until 2006. A conservative purist might rejoin here that it would be fine if income tax receipts fell, because we would then have a smaller government and a freer society. That would be nice, but far from true. Instead, government just keeps growing. Government spending grew dramatically under President Reagan, very nearly doubling, and leaving us with a federal deficit vastly bigger than the one he inherited. I know that a large chunk of that increase was to rebuild the military. I heartily approved of it. But if you want to have a military buildup — and we need one now, desperately — that’s usually a reason to raise taxes, not cut them. Under the current president, we have had the same story. As income tax receipts fell, military and other spending rose rapidly. Again, this spending was justified as far as I’m concerned. But we have been left with immense deficits and a doubled national debt as President Bush enters his final months in office. Mr. McCain wants to extend many of President Bush’s income tax cuts and to reduce taxes on corporations. But the facts of life are that we have a large budget deficit, even though some other nations have even larger deficits as percentages of gross domestic product. We have to pay interest on it. As a people and a nation, we owe this money in large part to foreigners — and that can have political implications. The facts of life are that federal spending is almost all untouchable: the military, Social Security, Medicare, interest on the debt, pensions. The discretionary part is tiny. Every category of federal spending is likely to grow. This means that if we don’t raise taxes, if we keep doing what we’re doing, the immense deficits and debt will not go away — and will probably grow. The question is simply this: Do we want to step up to the plate like responsible people — I hate to say this, but the last responsible people who actually did this were named Bill and Bob (Clinton and Rubin) — and shoulder our responsibilities? Or do we just kick the can down the road a bit and leave the mess for our children and their children? And if we do raise taxes, should people who are barely getting by pay them or should people who are getting by very nicely pay them? I don’t like taxing rich people or anyone I like. But our government — run by the people we elected — needs the revenue. Do we pay it or do we make our children pay it? Dwight D. Eisenhower — and Bill Clinton — knew the answer: You behave responsibly and balance the budget except in rare circumstances. Somehow, Republicans (and I am a Republican) have forgotten this basic lesson of adulthood. Maybe Senator McCain is grown up enough to remind us of the real urgency of personal and national responsibility. Or maybe not. Ben Stein is a lawyer, writer, actor and economist. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.