Before I even had a chance to pen a response to Sen. Leach’s rebuttal of my blog post this morning, Nathan Benefield of the Commonwealth Foundation jumped in with some excellent counterpoints to Leach. Since I couldn’t have said it better myself, here is Benefield in his own words:
Yesterday, blogger for the Time Herald/State Senator Daylin Leach attacked ATR’s no-tax pledge and Sen. Orie for signing it a few years ago before voting to increase taxes as part of this budget. (HT GrassrootsPA).Americans for Tax Reform offered a response, noting among other things, the lack of state spending transparency – which along with the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, is one of their major initiatives.Leach then offered a rebuttal on taxes and spending, which I have three items to take issue with.First, Leach claims that:[H]e [ATR’s Patrick Gleason] claims that there are "barriers" to knowing this information, which is my point exactly.Uh, no. Gleason was referring to obstacles to getting information about where Pennsylvania tax dollars are spent. That is not Leach’s "point exactly", or even tangentially. He says nothing about state spending transparency.Second, Leach cites a poll which [F]ound that a strong majority of Pennsylvanians support paying more taxes to avoid cuts in education and health care. I’ve already written about this – but that poll also found voters preferred laying off state employees and cutting services to higher taxes. And the question he likes was a false one – none of the proposed budgets would have resulted in cuts for education or health care.Finally, Leach pulls a "Washington Monument" ploy, writing:"Similarly, while the government must, and should, and did make cuts, there are certain core functions like say…feeding the kids, that it must avoid cutting for the good of society."Leach acts as though the budget debate in Pennsylvania was whether to raise taxes or starve children.In reality, the state budget preserved hundreds of millions of dollars for corporate welfare, millions more for the Pittsburgh Penguins arena, million dollar marketing deals, fraud (and outright theft) in welfare, per-diems for lawmakers, funding for ACORN, and a multitude of other spending initiatives someone less critical than feeding kids.
There are a couple of other points I’d like to add. Sen. Leach, employing the Left’s go-to straw man, suggests I and ATR are opposed to all taxes. This is silly and, well, false. ATR does not work to eliminate all taxes, nor do I. That, as Sen. Leach correctly points out, would be anarchy. ATR works to prevent the tax burden from rising beyond it’s current level and, ideally, mitigate it as much as possible. This isn’t exactly a radical position considering the size of government currently weighs in at roughtly 30% of GDP.
Leach also seems appalled by the fact that I equated taxation to stealing. Let me be clear, taxation beyond what is needed to fund the core functions of government is state sanctioned theft. As the Commonwealth Foundation succinctly points out here, here, here and here, much of the spending in the recently passed budget definitely falls into this category.