The most common conservative rejoinder to these arguments is political: that Republicans will be blamed if we go over the cliff, and that will cost them in the next election. I don’t agree with that argument, as I’ve written previously, for two reasons: (1) the next election is as far away as an election can be; (2) Republicans will never be able to build a political case for less spending if most Americans are insulated from the cost of that spending. …

It’s a very good question. Indeed, the only possible way for conservatives, over the long term, to build a case for shrinking government is to cease shielding Americans from the cost of growing government. To do anything else is to embrace ephemeral near-term polls at the expense of the broader conservative cause. …

Principled conservatives in Congress should reject the consensus of the political class and stand firm. Unless Democrats are willing to sign onto serious, far-reaching restructuring of entitlement spending, we should go over the fiscal cliff. The most viable — and principled — way to shrink the size of government is to ask more Americans to take responsibility for its cost.