A Whiff of Liberaltarianism from the Left
By Arnold Kling
in the spirit of a new progressive incrementalism, here are three battles that progressives should fight in the next Congress to put our fiscal and economic house in order: create jobs by cutting the payroll tax and replacing the revenue lost with a carbon tax; bring the Social Security trust fund closer to balance by changing the formula for Social Security benefits so that, in the future, well-off people will get somewhat smaller benefits than under the current formula; and reduce the deficit by creating a tax expenditure budget.
This sounds liberaltarian-ish to me, and it comes from a former official in the Clinton Administration. That is refreshing, because otherwise I see liberaltarians as people who have defected from the liberty movement rather than from the progressive movement.
My problem with liberaltarianism has been my fear that it would mainly serve to divide and weaken economic conservatives. Meanwhile, the left appeared to be completely immobile. If you lose more free-market allies than you gain, then liberaltarianism is not a good move. I still have that concern, but the new issue of The Democracy Journal has a slight whiff of liberaltarianism–among some other, more malodorous pieces.
Promote the concept of tax choice. What exactly is tax choice? Simply put, it is a policy that would permit taxpayers to allocate a percentage of their income taxes to any portion of the discretionary federal budget. In a tax choice program, a taxpayer who wishes to support public education, for example, could send some of her income tax dollars specifically to that part of the federal budget, while a taxpayer who feels strongly about the military could allocate a portion of his income tax payment accordingly.
There is overlap here with some of the ideas in the widely-unread Unchecked and Unbalanced. I take the idea a bit farther, but Lamberton’s proposal is a start.