Forbes' olive branch

If government raises taxes, will it slash regulations in kind?

We appreciate and respect magazine magnate Steve Forbes and his announced acquiescence to higher tax rates on the wealthy.


Coming from Mr. Forbes, a clear-headed fiscal hawk, the concession may encourage leaders in Washington to arrive at a consensus to avoid the infamous “fiscal cliff” the country is headed for at the end of the year: massive tax increases on everyone, as well as blunt, inartful cuts to the federal budget that no one seems to favor.

What may get lost in his unexpected peace offering is what he is asking for in return – which is that, if we’re going to return to 1990s-style tax rates on the wealthiest Americans, let’s at least reduce government regulations to comparable levels as well.

Democrats, including President Obama, are nearly as nostalgic for the Bill Clinton years as Republicans are for the Reagan years. But are Democrats willing to really go there – complete with a more business-friendly regulatory environment?

The ’90s also were quite contrary to today in the way we approached dependency on government. Bill Clinton liked to talk about “ending welfare as we know it.” Today, record numbers of Americans are on government assistance – and the Obama administration has been advertising to put more people on food stamps, and recently even put up a “welcome package” on a federal website directing recent immigrants (illegal too?) directly to public assistance programs.

A return to fewer regulations, Forbes notes, also would include the repeal of Obamacare.

In summation, Forbes wrote just before Thanksgiving that a return to a Clinton-era economy must include more than just a return to similar tax rates; it must also include a freer economy, similar federal spending levels and a strong and stable dollar.

If Mr. Obama is serious about getting the economy moving again, Forbes wrote, “he has to combine Clinton tax rates with the former president’s wise management of the economy that encouraged free enterprise and a true recovery. If not, we will see a return to recession in 2013 and continue on our current path toward European-style malaise and stagnation.”

Forbes is right.

We hope Democrats in Washington will acknowledge it, just as Forbes and others are beginning to acquiesce to higher tax rates for some. We wish they would accept that there’s simply not enough wealth in America, much less in a few hands, to support the kind of suicidal spending the federal government is engaging in. Our leaders also need to deal with entitlement spending, which, alone, will bankrupt America in just a few years.

People like Steve Forbes have spread the seeds of compromise. Pray they grow.

Prayer may be the key. And we appreciate the sentiments of the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, who – about the same time Forbes was extending his olive branch – issued a call to prayer for unity and humility and cohesion in the country:

“Having just come through a divisive national election, I am urging pastors across this country to lead their congregations in praying daily for our president, Barack Obama, and all of our elected leaders – for wisdom, Divine guidance, and that God would accomplish His will and purposes.

“While politics is noticeably partisan, prayer must never be partisan. Americans need to come together, and people of faith should lead the way, by praying diligently for our leaders whether or not they agree with them or their policies. God’s Word commands us to pray for ‘kings and all who are in high positions’ (I Timothy 2:2).

“When we look at the moral and economic decline of our nation and the international threats before us, it should be clear that we cannot solve these monumental problems without the help of Almighty God.”




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