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The Contender
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Progressive Taxation is Unconstitutional

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/10/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 783 times Debate No: 61520
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (15)
Votes (1)




A progressive taxation system is unconstitutional because it violates the General Welfare clause of the Constitution.

The underlying problem with a progressive tax system is that, when combined with a representative governmental construct, it fosters and perpetuates a culture of non-accountability. The majority poor vote for representatives promising government subsidies funded by wealth distribution where "somebody else" will pay.

Pandering representatives recognize that even 100% tax rates on the more affluent minority cannot pay for the promised subsidies and then ignore fiscal reality by passing government spending laws unsupportable by the tax base. Instead they are based on ever growing long-term borrowing where "somebody else" will pay later down the road (that's your grandchildren and many generations after; let's hope they are not successful enough to suffer 100% taxation).

The current majority poor voting population is satiated for the time being but the Ponzi scheme in the form of a $17 trillion dollar mountain of debt will collapse from its own weight just as all Ponzi schemes do.

Progressive taxation combined with a short term focused representative government leads to long-term financial ruin and is therefore decidedly NOT supportive of the General Welfare of The People.

If it is NOT supportive of the General Welfare of The People, then it cannot be Constitutional and is therefore unconstitutional.



When making a debate about the policies of a country, which is what this debate is, one must consider three aspects. These are: a social aspect, an economical one and a political one (though I"ll only be talking about the first two).

The pro has only managed to think about one aspect- an economical one. I cannot disagree that if everything in a country revolves around economy only, your idea would thrive. However, it is not so in real life, for all the three aspects rely on each other.

A flat taxation, which you are supporting (whether you are conscious of it or not), would indeed pay of the country"s funds very efficiently. But with the increase in tax, middle and lower class citizens (which are many) will suffer. They will have to make big changes in their life. One of these big changes is that the middle class society will have no choice but to let their children receive a lower education, and the poorer part of the society will not be able to let their children have education at all.

Those children with low education will drop out as soon as they finish high school (only a few will be able to go to some crappy universities). The poor will not go for university, let alone not go to school. As a result of all this, many people will not qualify for good jobs, thus the advancement of the U.S. will drop.

Now, why cause that nonsense when- wait for it- the U.S. is not going to drop into a debt default in the first place. Why do I say this? They have had a few close encounters at some points but have always managed to overcome the situations. My question is- what makes this one any different?

Now my next point, which is the most important one, is that the U.S. is not "borrowing" from China (which is one of the main causes of its huge debt) as such. Basically what it"s doing is buying assets from it in exchange for dollars. So if those selling the assets are disappointed in the interest rates they"re getting, they can just collect back their assets and maybe sell it off to someone else. It really is a mild scenario, and not one that seems as if China will bomb the U.S. if they don"t give back the money. All they"re going to do is withdraw the money back. Yes, it"s really no biggie and therefore should not be good enough a reason to cause the accurate prediction I gave above in my first point, where the economy falls because of lack of education.

Source (I hope this comes out as a link) Hope it does :(

America is $17 Trillion in Debt " Here's Why You Shouldn't Be ... - Mic
Debate Round No. 1


Well, the Con is correct in that I support a flat tax, but this argument is not about supporting a flat tax. It is about pulling the blinds back on the "utility" fallacy that has propagated for decades. It is about clarifying that a progressive tax scheme is unconstitutional.

In my first argument I focused on the General Welfare clause and on the failure of a progressive tax system"s to actually be supportive of the General Welfare.

The Con has made a couple of points that are worth further discussing so I will do that here as well and then I will move on to the second reason that a progressive tax system is unconstitutional; that it does not provide each citizen equal protection of each citizen"s property and that it equates to subjective government confiscation of property.

First, let"s recognize that the Con has failed to undermine the original argument and, in fact, has agreed with it on the economic basis. He has raised tangential issues though so let"s delve into them. They are:
1.Policies of a country should consider social, economic, and political aspects.
2.The institution of a flat tax would require middle class society to let their children receive a lower quality education and lower class to have no education at all.
3.Lower educated children will equate to an inability to gain preferable jobs later in life causing "the advancement" of the U.S. to drop.
4.That the US could not have a debt default.
5.That the U.S. is not "borrowing" from China (not quite sure where this entered the debate but, ok, I"ll bite)
6.An attempt to somehow redefine the issuance of a bond as something other than borrowing money (again, not part of my argument but I really cannot let this one lie)

1.I agree with the Con that social, economic, and political aspects should be considered in tax policy. Let"s consider the social aspects of a tax system. Should a tax system be designed to incent socially irresponsible behavior of the citizen or of its representative government? No. Hasn"t the progressive tax system proven that it does so? Yes. Should a tax system be designed to incent socially responsible behavior? Yes. So therefore we need a tax system that is something other than a progressive tax system.

A tax system should be fair and should be consistent with the principles of every person being created equal, of equal protection from arbitrary government confiscation, and of incentivizing positive outcomes in the social fabric. Let"s focus on positive outcomes in the social fabric, shall we?

Are people subject to Pavlovian conditioning? Yes. Is it desirable to have a large percentage of the population having been conditioned over decades to be dependent on government handouts? No. Definitively, No. Is it desirable to have citizens that are interested enough to actually care how large government spending becomes? Yes. Definitely, Yes. Is it possible for government spending to run out of control and destroy the social fabric and even end an entire civilization? Yes. Ask the Romans.

So, what taxation system would ensure that government money is only spent on necessities, that the entire citizenry is concerned with the government budget (and therefore the size of the required tax revenue), and that conditions people to be responsible for themselves and truly live independently? Does a progressive tax system achieve these worthy goals? Decidedly not. Does a flat percentage / proportional tax achieve these worthy goals? YES.

2.Let"s now turn our attention to the absurd supposition that the institution of a flat tax would require middle class society children to receive a lower quality education and lower class to have no education at all.

If we had a population that was actively engaged and concerned about the size and priorities of government budget expenditures then this would never happen. The middle class and the poor represent the majority of voters and they would ensure that duly elected officials would prioritize education over such silly things as bridges to islands with scant populations and spending billions of dollars to fight wars for other countries.

3.Based on my argument in #2, above, this next point raised by Con is mute.

4.Whether or not the U.S. could have a debt default is an interesting subject for which we should probably make a separate debate altogether but let"s skim the surface of the topic here anyway.

The U.S. currently serves as the worlds" reserve currency and because of that fact coincident with the fact that the U.S. dollar is now a fiat currency (not based on gold or other limited supply assets) the U.S. is the only country in the world that can simply print dollars (buy issuing bonds to the Federal Reserve and the Federal Reserve actually prints the dollars) to infinity"as long as other countries want U.S. dollars.

But what happens when a country whose currency serves as the global reserve currency becomes too indebted to other nations that other nations begin to question the value of the currency? Well, ask Great Brittain, ask France, ask the Roman Empire. They all used to be the global reserve currency in their historical in their time debt parties (credit expansion) right up until the day that it all imploded for each of them. The answer is that when other nations begin to doubt the value of the reserve currency then other nations begin to accept other currencies that they feel will maintain their value and they invest in the bonds of that new reserve currency (by the way, if you"ve read the news over the last couple of years then you would know that China"s currency is beginning to be accepted in international trade, instead of US dollars, at a dramatically increasing rate).

Lastly, what happens if other nations start requiring higher interest rates to maintain investments in U.S. bonds at current levels? Well, the cost to maintain the current debt load goes up dramatically. Buy the way, are you aware that the rates on U.S. bonds is now higher than those bastions of financial conservatism and strength in Spain, Portugal, and Greece?

But I guess we don"t need to worry because the government can just issue more debt, right? Maybe to a point but when is that point reached that other nations not only require higher interest but get so skeptical that they begin to divest out of U.S. bonds and diversify elsewhere? Well, if investors don"t buy the next round of debt then the government would have to pay back the money it borrowed to issue the debt. Where is it going to get that money? It can"t issue more bonds to get cash at that point.

5.That the U.S. is not borrowing from China is an absurdly preposterous statement that ignores basic facts. The U.S. is borrowing from any investor in the bonds issued by the U.S. treasury.

I"ve outline the mechanics of bond issuance (borrowing) above.

6.Ditto. Go back to Econ 101.

Now, on to my next point: that progressive taxation is inconsistent with the basic constitutional principle of equality in government protection of its citizens and their assets.

Your salary is your asset paid to you in the form of cash. Now, is the government exercising equal protection when it discriminates against those that have worked hard and been successful in pursuit of happiness when it is taking a larger percentage of their cash for taxes than it does from others? No, it is not.

All other significant forms of taxation in the U.S. are proportional, they are a flat percentage based on the underlying value. For example, property taxes.

Regardless of the "utility" concept, the discrimination against a sub-set of the population and the arbitrary taking of property from them in greater proportion, especially to give it to someone else, is not consistent with the basic constitutional principle of equality and is therefore unconstitutional.


1.Again, in your first point, you were talking only from an economical view. On your first point, you said that a flat taxation is equal, and I assume you were blindly supposing that this is because everyone has the same income as everyone else. If you want to talk about equal or fair, then let me just say that during a flat tax, you are indeed pushing poor citizens to pay what they must struggle to, as the rich citizens just easily toss their share into the offering bag. That doesn"t seem so fair or equal, does it? Progressive taxation however, makes both sides work what they can as well as pay what they can, making it a fairer form of tax.

2.You have said that the government would prioritize on the poor than fight petty wars. Well, the Americans have signed contracts with countries in war. So it would be impossible to simply say, "You know what? I quit." And then proceed to help the poor. No, such an event could cause missiles to start raining on America, because of unaccomplished contracts.
Besides, nobody signed any document promising to help the American poor. So which do you think they would prioritize? The promise they must fulfill lest missiles start raining upon them or the charity, which they don"t have to do if they don"t want to do it?

3."All other significant forms of taxation in the U.S. are proportional, they are a flat percentage based on the underlying value"- I"m going to take what you just said to elaboration. Doesn"t this phrase mean that you are only going to make citizens pay what they can handle? Yes, definitely yes. But remember the progressive tax system, where what they can handle is not enough to pay the debts? Using flat tax, you are simply doing the same thing all over again.
But what if the government raises the tax so that it becomes sufficient? Ditto. Go back to my point about education.
Debate Round No. 2


RobMBroughton forfeited this round.


Please vote for con,
The opposition won
by default as the pro
Didnt rebut and so
Ive won by default
And it aint even my fault
I gave a good argument
Which the pro hasnt fought.

So I win!
Dont even need to think about it
So I win!
Press vote for me yeah! Press it, press it.
Debate Round No. 3
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RobMBroughton 2 years ago
"It is apparent that the constitutionality of progressive income taxation has never been passed upon with reference to the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The grave consequences which it is asserted must arise in the future if the right to levy a progressive tax be recognized involves in its ultimate aspect the mere assertion that free and representative government is a failure, and that the grossest abuses of power are foreshadowed unless the courts usurp a purely legislative function...

If a case should ever arise, where an arbitrary and confiscatory exaction is imposed bearing the guise of a progressive or any other form of tax, it will be time enough to consider whether the judicial power can afford a remedy by applying inherent and fundamental principles for the protection of the individual, even though there be no express authority in the Constitution to do so.

- Mr. Justice White - Knowlton v. Moore

Has it not now occured that an arbitrary and confiscatory exaction is imposed bearing the guise of a progressive tax? Has a recent President not made it part of his platform to "redistribute the wealth" from one class to another?

Isn't it time that the Supreme Court actually address the constitutionality of a progressive tax?
Posted by RobMBroughton 2 years ago
How do we determine if government spending promotes General Welfare?

Does the concept of promoting the General Welfare apply to the entire budget in aggregate or is it applied on a spending line item basis?

Does the concept of promoting the General Welfare apply to a specific budget cycle or does it apply more generally to limit government spending to an extent that government spending OVER TIME does not harm the future General Welfare of The People of The United States?

How can we measure if the General Welfare is being promoted by government spending?

At what point does the burden of taxation on the People become detrimental to the General Welfare of The United States? For example, generations of unborn citizens will be paying for government spending already done in recent history. Do those future citizens have the burden of taxation without representation? Is that consistent with basic constitutional principles?
Posted by Palmo10 2 years ago
cuz gov didnt define
Posted by Palmo10 2 years ago
n becos der isnt a def, i get 2 say wat i want ;)))) n can twist d meanings of things when i want
Posted by L0ll3risms 2 years ago
the issue is that there isn't a consensus on the definition of general welfare, but the clause around it implies that the gov't has the right to do what it believes is correct and most beneficial for the people. Also, how does progressive taxation punish success/reward failure when all it does is ensure that those who suffer most from taxes, IE, those who have issues with purchasing basic needs, get taxed less, whereas those who don't, IE those who make many times what they need to survive, pay a bit more.
Posted by Palmo10 2 years ago
Posted by Palmo10 2 years ago
Posted by Palmo10 2 years ago
nope it didnt come out in a link. Just type this: America is $17 Trillion in Debt " Here's Why You Shouldn't Be Worried
Posted by Palmo10 2 years ago
nope it didnt come out in a link. Just type this: America is $17 Trillion in Debt " Here's Why You Shouldn't Be Worried
Posted by Palmo10 2 years ago
nope it didnt come out in a link. Just type this: America is $17 Trillion in Debt " Here's Why You Shouldn't Be Worried
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ameliamk1 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: I felt the arguments mostly missed the point. Pro's claim that Progressive Tax violated the "general welfare"'s not even a clause in the very tenuous, and somewhat desperate, but Con failed for the most part to attack it. I will give conduct to Con for the FF, but will not award arguments.