Friday, November 17, 2006

Tax Increases?

The people over at Howard County Maryland Blog are worried that the Democrats might raise taxes. One of many reasons I am not a Republican is that Party's overblown anti-tax dogma. Now no one enjoys paying taxes and we all want our taxes to be as low as possible. Americans have a right to expect that when they hand their money (not all money is earned or "hard earned by the way, just ask Paris Hilton or George W. Bush) over to the Government, it will be used in a wise and judicious manner. We all know that there is a huge gap between reality and this ideal, however. No one is against trimming "the fat" in Government, except those benefiting from the fat, of course.

Tax cuts are always popular and opportunistic politicians realize their visceral appeal. Especially the Republicans. It's easy to sell a tax cut, your just telling the people what they want to hear. But Governments have a lot of responsibilities: educating the population, providing for the national defense, providing police and fire protection, providing a transportation and communications infrastructure, taking care of the disabled, providing a justice system, maintaining parks and recreational facilities, libraries, museums and zoos, protecting the environment.

But these responsibilities require money. That money has to come from somewhere. So if you want good government, you will have to pay for it. When expected revenues are exceeded by expected spending, you have four options raise taxes, cut services, cut pork or borrow money. At the local level of government, here in Howard County, you won't find much pork. At the state level, you will find pork, but you will also find lots of unmet and underfunded needs, like education, taking care of the disabled and environmental protection, just to name a few.

What do you think?

2 comments:

Byron said...

Our elected officials should always be honest with their constituents, particularly on issues like taxes and spending. These issues come down to simple math and basic priorities. At the state level, there is a nearly $500 million deficit this fiscal year, and future projected deficits are even worse. The state has mandatory expenditures it must make each year, and as time goes on, because of Thornton, Medicaid, etc., those costs are increasing significantly. There is not $500 million of "wasteful spending" or "pork" in the state budget to cut--simple as that. Therefore, we have two choices, or some variation of two choices. We can find new revenues (raise taxes) or cut mandatory expenditures (police, education, health care, transportation).

If in the next few years Democrats propose revenue enhancements, the Republicans will say it is, of course, the end of the world. What Democrats need to say to Republicans is as follows:

1.) Isn't it true that under Governor Ehrlich, in four years, YOU SUPPORTED raising taxes and fees more than Democrats had under Glendening and Schaefer combined in 16 years? This includes a 50% increase in the state property tax, increasing the car registration fee, higher tolls, 50% increase in college tuition, to name only a few.

2.) We have to cut something if we don't find new revenue, so what do you propose we cut? Health care for the poor? More cuts and underfunding of higher education? Repealing Thornton? Continuing Ehrlich's practice of raiding the Transportation Trust Fund? And then if we do make those cuts, what is the cost to us as residents of Maryland? Schools need more money, people need to be healthy, and we need sorter commutes (traffic congestion is bad for the economy, my capitalist friends).

Steve is absolutely right. We all don't enjoy paying taxes, but it is the cost we pay to live in a great place. You can't get something for nothing.

David W. Keelan said...

There is not $500 million of "wasteful spending" or "pork" in the state budget to cut--simple as that.

Byron, I agree, and certainly not after 4 years of steller leadership by Bob Ehrlich.

Revenue Enhancements - that is a new term for me. Is that what tax increases are now being called?

As for mandatory expenditures - most of these are unfunded mandates. Never mind who imposed them. My point is that they were imposed without consideration for funding sources thus making tax increases and budget shortfalls inevitable.

Please break down a comparison of Glendening/Schaefer tax increases compared to the past 4 years. BTW: 50% property tax increase = $.048 and came down $.02 (just to put it in perspective). No, Republican's were not happy about that and this one didn't support it.

Higher Ed wasn't cut. They didn't get the massive increases they were used to under Glendening. Repeal Thorton? Lets get real like it or not Thorton is here to stay and no one has the political will to cut it. What is the solution? I don't know.

I prefer a tax on consumption, and not on income or property. Taxes on income are regressive. Taxes on property devalues the property. If you use it then tax it.

I actually know someone who thinks we should not pay taxes at all. He is a nut in my book. Of course we pay taxes and we should pay taxes. Conservatives or Republicans or what have you don't mind taxes. They mind excessive taxes.

We end up some where in the middle.

Dems/Reps agree taxes are generally good.

Dems/Reps agree not all tax policies are good (which ones is what we fight about).

Dems/Reps generally disagree on where tax dollars should be spent. Probably have more agreement (education) here than disagreements.

Now, I guess I will have to write a post on tax policy. Why low taxes are good/bad and visa versa, and fiscal policy.

In the end - I think ED C at HOCOMD Blog was just pointing out the obvious.