John Hood, who blogs frequently on National Review’s The Corner, points out a clarifying quote about taxes:

There may be no clearer exposition of the difference between conservatives and liberals on fiscal policy than this quote in The Wall Street Journal:

“There are two things the tax code is supposed to do: raise enough revenue to support the government and smooth the rough edges of capitalism,” said Bob McIntyre of Citizens for Tax Justice, a leading voice in Democratic tax circles.

Actually, there’s only one thing the tax code is supposed to do: raise sufficient revenue for the government to carry out its legitimate, limited tasks.

Liberals are fond of saying that conservatives fixate too much on tax policy, but the reality is that the political debate so often touches the tax issue because it is foundational. Taxation is the most widely experienced manifestation of government’s power to coerce, which is its defining characteristic. My favorite formal definition of the state, by the way, is from economist and Nobel Laureate Douglass North : “A state is an organization with a comparative advantage in violence, extending over a geographic area whose boundaries are determined by its power to tax constituents.”