Hiking taxes in the middle of a recession will not only harm your economy; it can also be political suicide. Unfortunatly, the Arizona Republican Party seems determined to march down this very path.
As we reported previously, Arizona taxpayers are overwhelmingly opposed to hiking taxes to solve the state’s chronic overspending problem. A recent AFP-AZ poll showed 62% of respondents in Phoenix and 64% in Glendale were opposed to hiking taxes. This was followed by a Rasmussen poll , which found 65% of likely Arizona voters were opposed. Tax hikes are not popular among the electorate.
These polls obviously caused somewhat of a problem for State GOP Chair Randy Pullen (you might remember him as the person who promised to teach Americans for Tax Reform “a valuable lesson that will serve you well the rest of your professional life”).
So. What did he do? He decided to commission his own poll. But not just any poll. A push-poll of epic proportions. One with a100% guarantee to deliver the result he wanted – support for higher taxes.
To truly appreciate just how rigged this poll was, we’ve posted it below. Please be advised the following is unsuitable to read at work for anyone with any knowledge of polling or campaigning, as it will cause you to convulse in spasms of uncontrollable laughter:
“I’d like to ask you how acceptable or unacceptable you find the following measures which would be considered in addition to spending cuts in order to preserve critical education and public health funding while the economy begins to recover. These taxes would be in the form of a constitutionally limited tax that would last for no more than three years and would automatically be eliminated without another public vote.Let’s assume for the purposes of these questions that the Legislature and the Governor have already cut nearly $1 billion dollars in State spending by 2010, used all of the federal stimulus funds to balance the budget and still have a billion dollar per year budget deficit. All of the funds raised from these taxes would be dedicated towards maintaining 2010 spending levels for K-12 education, universities, community colleges, and health care for the poor. Each of the following measures would raise approximately a billion dollars per year.”
66.6% of persons answered they would find the measures ‘acceptable’. Mr. Pullen stated he was “surprised by the level of support” in the poll. We were too, with a question as misleading as that, I would have expected much higher support!
Yesterday, Arizona’s largest newspaper, The Arizona Republic, in a detailed analysis, rightly ripped this poll to shreds. It’s final verdict?: “The public opinion survey being peddled by the Arizona Republican Party purporting to show support for Gov. Brewer’s tax increase is, to use a technical term from my erstwhile days as a political consultant, useless. (Actually, the technical political consulting term is more descriptive, but I eschew such language since becoming a genteel journalist.)” The same technical political consulting term was my reaction also.
The message is simple. Hiking taxes in the middle of a recession is bad policy and even worse politics – and Arizona voters know this. No amount of spin or loaded polls can change this reality. One only wonders how much GOP member and donor money was wasted on this farcical and discredited poll.
Mr. Pullen has long expressed his desire to “retire and get to do a lot more fishing”. If he keeps this up, looks like he may soon get his chance.