California Republican Party Chairman on the GOP and Taxes - AZ Gov. Brewer Should Listen Up


Posted by Patrick M. Gleason on Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009, 9:48 AM PERMALINK

Before she has her attack dogs spend money going after legislators from her own party, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer should read the following column by Ron Nehring, California Republican Party Chairman and San Diego center-right coalition leader, which was recently published in the California FlashReport:

 

As debate continues on the solution to California’s state budget deficit, the question is posed as to the “best” way to raise taxes: broad based taxes such as those on income or sales, or narrow taxes on products and activities such as cigarette smoking or oil extraction.

The right answer is: neither.  As the party that supports limiting the size of government, all tax increases should be opposed with equal vigor.

It’s very encouraging to see Governor Schwarzenegger and Republican legislators avoiding a dangerous trap as they focus on reducing government spending to balance today’s California state budget.

Yet, every day we’re reminded the proponents of big government have plenty of tools in their toolbox for separating taxpayers from the money they earn. 

One approach is to link a tax increase to something considered desirable – such as an income tax surcharge to pay for mental health services, or a cigarette tax to pay for other health programs.  This approach is designed to shift debate away from the tax itself and onto the purported “benefit” – a technique based on politics, not economics or budgeting.  If the “benefit” was so important, then government should be doing it already, and shift resources from lower priorities.

And that brings us to the crux of the issue: setting priorities.  Politicians who campaign on big government always want to avoid setting priorities because doing so means one interest group gets their money, while another does not. 

Raising taxes means avoiding choices: everyone gets a bigger slice of the government pie, and no interest group “loses.”  Except those paying the taxes, of course.

Republicans should never compromise principles by turning a blind eye to tax increases targeted at specific groups.  To accede to such tax increases is to say that there is no fat left to cut in the state budget, that every single program is vital and necessary, and government is running at peak efficiency.

That, of course, is nonsense.

As a school board member I saw first hand how much money state government causes to be wasted through rules and mandates adopted not to improve education, but to ensure certain politically connected constituencies benefit.  Rules making it difficult or impossible for schools to competitively shop around for certain non-education services like busing and food services come to mind immediately as one example.  There are thousands more.

Capitulating to a tax increase – even the most narrow – immediately shifts the debate away from drawing down spending to match reality, and moves the discussion onto our opponents’ turf.  “Well we all agree revenues need to be raised, now it’s just a question of where we find the money,” you can just hear the liberals saying the moment a Republican agrees to a tax hike.

Raising taxes on oil extraction, tobacco products, alcohol, or on business property through a so-called “split roll” directly contradicts and undermines Republican principles supporting limited government and restraining spending and therefore should be rejected, immediately, out of hand. 

To view this column as it appeared in the FlashReport, Click Here

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