As far as I'm concerned, we have not only a mandate, but a responsibility to restore the reasonable financial obligations of the wealthiest Americans toward their country that existed before the Reagan administration. There was never any objective reason to cut them in the first place: The Laffer Curve mumbo jumbo that was conjured to justify Reagan's upper-income and business tax cuts has been discredited so thoroughly, so many times since then that there is absolutely no excuse not to restore the previous rates for the top tax brackets.
Frankly, this is the one and only way we're going to rebuild this country on a robust, sustainable basis, so it doesn't even matter that we don't presently have the House - this has to be our position, and we have to fight for it until it gets done. Merely ending the Bush top-tier tax bribes is not even close to being sufficient, and we certainly shouldn't be offering to compromise bedrock rights like Social Security and Medicare to achieve that piddling rollback. The Reagan tax cuts were the beginning of the erosion of our society, and the endless cycle of budget cuts that first began to turn America's schools, roads, and hospitals from the envy of the world into crumbling artifacts of a bygone era.
The top marginal income tax rate from 1965 to 1980 was 70%. In 1985, it was 50%. By 1988, it was 28% - a reduction of more than half. The Clinton tax increases that helped build a flawed recovery from the Reagan-Bush recession only brought the tax level back up to 39.6% in 1993, but since then have only been at 35% - before all the deductions and loopholes and tax shelter bullshit the rich use to evade contributing back to the country that made their wealth possible. As we know, many of them avoid paying altogether through various combinations of loopholes, accounting chicanery like Mitt Romney's tax-exempt "charitable trust," offshoring, or outright fraud. So even if we fail to defeat all those tactics, at least restoring a decent top-tier income and capital gains tax rate would make it harder overall for these people to end up paying less than their own employees.
I know some elements of the corrupt media (e.g., Politico) are already spewing the propaganda of its masters by insinuating that Democrats in office are somehow going "extreme" for merely wanting to restore the Clinton tax levels, but if so, they're extremist conservatives, not liberals or (LOL) "leftists." Let's be clear here, and let's have the nation be clear about this: Ronald Reagan was WRONG, period. Hard stop. He was a failed President. The cascading legacy of his fiscal policies has been eviscerating and torturing this nation for thirty goddam years. It's time we ended that legacy. It's time we recognize that this past election, which so many have billed as an "historic realignment" and a final end to the Reagan era, must have real political and economic consequences to match.
Regardless of what we manage to push through Congress in the next two years, if all we even seek is a restoration of the "feel-good Reaganism" of the Clinton administration, the very next Republican to sit in the Oval Office with even a closely divided Congress is going to completely obliterate every last vestige of this nation's economy and the American middle-class without breaking a sweat. If our tax dollars just end up going to subsidize the wealth and luxury of the rich, how long before taxation itself is privatized, and instead of the IRS there are just corporate collection agencies with private armies forcing people at gunpoint to pay their own employers for the privilege of working 15 hours a day, 7 days a week? It's happened before, folks - it was the economic system of the Middle Ages, called Manorialism. And that's basically what the modern conservative ideal of economics boils down to: Glorified slavery.
Republicans are engaged in the most ludicrous theatrical display of concern over this so-called "fiscal cliff" and "debt apocalypse," well we can offer them a complete and total resolution to that problem - a permanent end to deficits and debt. And it starts with the folks who own and puppeteer the GOP once again paying taxes in proportion to their privileges, as they had at the height of our nation's prosperity during the generation of America's greatest accomplishments. The fact is we have the answer to every lame canard and manufactured economic issue they generate, while they don't have a single answer to any problem whatsoever. They ARE the problem, and they've been the problem for thirty years. Government is not the problem: Republicans in government and the degenerate corruption they represent are the problem.
So I want to draw a line not merely in the sand, but carved in granite: No compromise on taxes or Social Security / Medicare rights until every single inflation-adjusted dime taken out of education, healthcare, and infrastructure since Reagan is restored to the public sector. An entire generation has grown up believing that budget cuts and eroding options are a law of nature, and that has to stop no matter what. We have to restore the previous culture of optimism and progress that had faith in their ability to make life better for their children than they found it themselves. That means we finally relegate Reaganism to the dustbin of history where it belongs, and don't merely quibble over degrees.