Republicans block 'Taxman,' at least for now
Last week as leaders of the Democratic majority in the General Assembly scrambled frantically to raise money for a state budget that was more than two months late, floating and then withdrawing various schemes, older observers might have been reminded of "Taxman," the most political of Beatles songs.
If you drive a car, I'll tax the street.
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat.
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.
First there was a half-percentage increase in the sales tax. Then the increase was cut to a seventh of a percent. Then it was dropped.
Tobacco again was a target for higher taxes, and then the vapor inhalers of people trying to avoid tobacco.
Then it was raising the tax on hospitals again so that the expense might be passed along to the federal government, reimbursed to the state, and returned to the hospitals − only really returned this time.
Then it was a surcharge on property transfer fees on fancy homes.
Then it was legalizing and taxing fantasy sports gambling.
And then the piece de resistance − a new tax on cellphone lines, 49 cents per month on top of the ordinary sales tax already levied.
No particular rationale was offered for the cellphone surcharge. Was it that people talk too much? Or did the Democrats figure that cellphone bills are already so long and confusing that another tax just might get lost in them, either escaping the eyes of cellphone users or else getting blamed on their telephone companies?
All this stuff was to be arranged overnight, reduced to writing in a mere 900 pages or so, into which all sort of extraneous goodies could be inserted to buy the votes of doubtful legislators, and then voted on long before anyone outside the Democratic leadership would have time to read the bill, much less discuss it, there having been no public hearings on many of its provisions.
That's "the party of the people" for you − full of energy when it comes to taking the people's money without due consideration. It failed spectacularly when a few Democrats in the Senate and House, tired of their party's tax increases, defected and voted instead for the Republican budget, which Gov. Dannel P. Malloy then said he would veto.
Meanwhile a state government employee union began broadcasting television commercials featuring a presumably rich corporate executive urging an increase in taxes on the rich so that they might pay their "fair share," as if, to be what they consider "fair," the rich have to wait for new tax law before sending a donation to the state.
What is really meant by "fair share"? Both the state and federal governments long have taxed higher incomes at higher rates, those rates have been adjusted from time to time, and presumably at any moment they represent what the democratic process considers fair.
So what the commercials mean by "fair" is only whatever increase in taxes is necessary to keep insulating state and municipal employees from the economic pressure mere taxpayers suffer.
If, after last week's scramble for revenue, the Democrats ever unite their thin majorities in the legislature behind a budget that the governor is prepared to sign, they will have enacted three huge tax increases in a mere six years, each time assuring the state that, in the governor's words, "the ship has been righted."
But the ship is still sinking, and it is unlikely ever to be righted with Democrats like these in charge.
Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.
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