We’re getting used to hearing taxes discussed solely in terms of whether to raise taxes on “the rich”—or, as the President like to put it, “ask” them to pay a little more. (He'll eventually be "asking" you for a little more, too.)

In the cosmic sense of what is really going on behind the rhetoric, this is almost a side issue. Paul Kengor explains over at the American Spectator:

 Here’s why Republicans must resist tax increases: Increased tax revenue gives Obama and liberal Democrats more government money to grow their government class, the same class they hope will keep Republicans out of the White House for generations to come. If Republicans submit to Obama’s push for tax increases, and thus further feed the beast — that is, subsidize the growing government class — then they will be purchasing their own noose, paying for their own political destruction.

But how much can Republicans achieve in our brave new Washington? President Obama seems disinclined to negotiate. Fred Barnes writes about his “hard line” and ability to out-politic the GOP:

Since Thanksgiving, [President Obama has] moved sharply to the left in his negotiating position. He’s rejected a compromise on raising income tax rates for the well-to-do, insisted on more tax revenues and higher spending, and ruled out all but modest concessions.

Obama’s conciliatory get-togethers with House speaker John Boehner?—?they met twice last week?—?have been all for show. He followed up one chat by sending a fresh proposal to Boehner with jacked-up levels of spending. Boehner and congressional Republicans were taken aback by the White House’s audacity, but they shouldn’t have been. They’ve all but invited him to raise the ante.

While hiking his demands, the president has refused to consider spending cuts until Republicans accept income tax rate increases for the top 2 percent of taxpayers. In effect, Obama’s team requires a concession by Republicans before serious negotiations can begin. It’s a ploy reminiscent of the Soviets, who wanted a reward just for coming to the negotiating table.

It is interesting that the United States became a republic primarily over the issue of taxation. It is through taxes that President Obama seeks to complete a transformation—already partly-achieved—of this republic. It is also interesting that, while pundits are talking about this, the Republicans on the Hill for the most part aren’t.

They are letting the president get away with framing the issue as one of “fairness” and taxing the rich: the real issue is transformation, of which taxes are but a means to an end.