(Please welcome Barbara Anderson to the Red Mass Group community – promoted by Garrett)
For my first post for RMG, I’ll begin with the ongoing question: does the government do what it does because it has no idea what it’s doing and therefore just muddles into the wrong decisions, or, is most of what the government does a well-organized plot to ruin our freedom-lovin’ lives?
Some see an ideological bent, like that of liberal activists. I start with the assumption that most politicians are different from us, combining a lack of understanding about how the world works with a desire for personal privilege that depends on shortsighted re-election strategy. That’s a good debate for federal issues.
At the state level, an interesting debate is: does the government muddle into its bad decisions, or does it plan them? Take the state sales tax hike. Did the House pass an increase because it’s always fun to spend money but uh-oh there’s less money than we hoped so do something, anything, someone tell me how to vote are you sure I’ll still get re-elected? Oh, all right, if you’re sure, then, what’s on the table, sales tax? Whatever, works for me.
This may be simplistic, but it explains why the arguments made by House Republicans and the business community about fairness, the economy, and incentives didn’t work: who cares?
Or, did state leaders begin to plot to increase our tax burden months ago: threaten giant toll increase, so that tollpayers express a preference for a gas tax hike instead; propose 19 cents, then have Big Business allies suggest 25 cents, so that drivers strenuously object; propose various nuisance levies like a tax on sweets, then when that becomes obviously impractical, propose an easier increase in the sales tax of a penny, no two pennies, plus expanding the sales tax to gasoline. Oh all right, one and a quarter pennies, and no sales tax on gas. Various factions sigh with relief and gratitude.
If this was a plot, then I suggest that it was never meant to stop with the sales tax, which just doesn’t bring in enough revenue to allow an unreformed system to continue in the style to which it is accustomed. The real goal would be an income tax hike because, the income tax is where the money is. Let’s see what happens in the Senate. One variable for its decision-making: in 1990, after the Legislature increased the income and gas taxes and expanded the sales tax to services, seven Senators lost their seats to challengers.