Resolved: The United States should prioritize tax increases over spending cuts.

Resolved: The United States should prioritize tax increases over spending cuts.

Wow, what is with all these terrible topics? The vagueness in this topic alone should have been enough for the NFL to reject it, particularly for a PF topic. Not to mention, this topic is horrendously weighted for the Con. Like all the other crap, however, we’re stuck with it, so let’s get down to business.

Important Terms and Definitions

The United States – Don’t let anyone tell you that this refers to anything other than the federal government. That’s what we’re talking about, not state governments.

Should – This is the crux of your case. You must understand how to determine what a government should prioritize, and you must use that understanding to build your contentions.

Prioritize – If you’re on the pro, here is the scenario for you: You have to pick between tax increases and spending cuts. You think tax increases are better. Prove it. This is what prioritization means, end of story.

Tax Increases and Spending Cuts – These terms are so vague. Where are we cutting spending? What does the tax increase look like? The terribad phrasing here not only precludes that all tax increases/spending are equal, but it also asks you to determine a philosophical difference as opposed to a practical one. Has the NFL forgotten that this is PF? As far as a definition is concerned, we all know what tax increases and spending cuts are. Your job is to understand how they manifest in particular segments of the economy (defense, welfare systems, healthcare, energy, etc…) In your case, I would advise against going into specifics regarding particular sectors, but be prepared for abusive arguments which do such things.

Potential Case Positions


1. Efficiency of Tax Increases – A government’s priorities ought to be determined by what is the most efficient option for accomplishing its goals. Tax increases are more efficient than spending cuts. Pragmatically speaking, they are easier to push through congress because they are not subject to as much quibbling as spending reform. Taxes are the most direct for of revenue for the federal government, and the rich can definitely afford to pay more in taxes.

2. Effectiveness of Tax Increases – A government should do what is most effective in accomplishing its goals. While spending cuts may help us save money, they do not allow us to direct funds toward new initiatives which will help rebuild our economy. The new educational and healthcare initiatives which are now being put into place require money.


1. Tax Increases are Unnecessary – We spend more on defense than the next 27 countries combined. We spend more per capita on healthcare than any other nation, and we’re in the top 10 per capita spending on education. We clearly don’t need more money. We need to spend it more wisely. If we fixed our government programs and allocated money more appropriately, increased taxes would be unnecessary.

2. Tax Increases Harm Small Business – This is a fairly obvious point. If we increase taxes, it makes it more difficult for small businesses to operate. Small businesses are a large driving for economic growth and success, and we really shouldn’t hinder them.

3. Spending Cuts are More Effective – Spending cuts don’t happen often, but when they do, they show remarkable results. The $200 billion decrease in military spending had an immediate positive impact on the economy that few people talk about. Harlem Children’s Zone is another great example of how managed spending can still yield good results and outcomes. Throwing money at problems doesn’t fix them. If stop spending as much money, it forces us to evaluate how to spend it most effectively.

This should be good to get you started. As always, feel free to post comments and such.


12 responses to “Resolved: The United States should prioritize tax increases over spending cuts.

  1. This is the wrong definition of Prioritize: Designate or treat (something) as more important than other things. A.K.A- Affirming won’t mean we’re actually doing anything, simply placing it mentally above another. The example I use to clarify is that one priority was Osama Bin Laden, but our intention wasn’t to help, it was actually to kill- A priority of tax increases could simply mean the government shouldn’t increase taxes

    • I’m a little confused about what you’re saying Bryan. The affirmative necessitates action. Without it, there is no moral evaluation to conduct. A symbolic prioritization doesn’t mean anything, especially when it comes to economic policy.

      Also, your analogy doesn’t really work. Our priority was not “Osama Bin Laden.” It was “Killing Osama Bin Laden.” We prioritized an actual action, not just a subject. The tax increase prioritization works the same way.

      The Pro necessarily has to argue that, when having to choose between tax increases and spending cuts, you should pick tax increases.

  2. I believe in 2011 when the Lincoln Douglas topic was the requirement that justice must recognize animal rights, someone made a similar argument, saying that it’s only recognition, not an actual change in our legal system. The pro can simply argue that it’s only a prioritization, not an actual action. In fact, a prioritization may mean our priority is preventing tax increases/bringing taxes down. The point I was trying to make was that the Pro could attack the resolution’s use of the word “prioritize” and take it literally as opposed to assuming it means we’d actually increase taxes.

    • I see what you mean now. If you read my posts, you’ll find that I’m strongly against these types of arguments. The people who write resolutions often do a terrible job of it, and students try to exploit that by using arguments which focus on particular terms or aspects of debate theory. It’s abusive, and it really ruins the quality of a debate.

      The resolution’s intent is clear, despite the poor construction of the wording.

  3. Could you point me towards the spending cuts and tax increases you were mentioning in your Pro Contention One? Was there a specific bill you had in mind? From what I’ve researched, it seems quite the opposite — the Obamacare tax increases took a year to become law, the 2011 spending cuts took only four months or so. Examples? Thanks!

    • Hi Gabbi,

      The Obamacare increases took so long because they were part of the Obamacare reform in general. They were not debated separately. I would look at the tax increases passed under the Clinton administration and the tax cuts under the Bush administration. Both went through very rapidly, but both administrations had a lot of difficulty instituting any spending reform.

  4. Ok Ace, I understand. My friend did this once with the Animal Rights LD topic about justice requiring the recognition of animal rights, saying “recognition isn’t enough”, and I was proposing a similar claim. I definitely agree with what you’re saying, in fact I really don’t like this resolution at all- it’s basically republicans vs democrats back-and-forth banter

  5. I need to know the whole reason for this topic. What exactly does this topic mean. What kind of spending cuts? And is the pro for spending cuts? This is all kind of confusing to me.

    • Hi Kylie,

      It’s funny you say that, because I would also like to know the same thing 😛 If you read the post, you’ll see that I comment on the fact that the topic never specifies any specifics, which is why it’s terrible, especially for PF.

      That being said, the Pro is neither for nor against spending cuts. The argument the Pro has to make is that the government should choose tax increases over spending cuts when given the choice.

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