So Charles Colton wryly wrote in the 19th Century observing human nature. Two centuries later, Colton might opine that in politics -- imitation is more a masquerade -- a way to co-op your opponent to win elections!
Our liberal Democratic friends have astutely won elections claiming as loudly as possible –despite all evidence to the contrary -- that they are indeed frugal with taxpayers' wallets. That high decibel assertion starts with Governor Lynch’s previous Pledge to veto an income or sales tax. Lynch coasted in his last two elections. New Hampshire historically has wanted no part of either tax, rightfully understanding that our overall tax burden would climb to New Jersey or Connecticut levels.
Liberals however, do grumble about the Pledge. Lynch actually faces a primary from Rep. Tim Robertson of Keene who apparently believes he is the real Democrat in that primary.
Voters may be discovering imitation for what it is -- that actions actually speak louder than words. In this era of staggering deficits; frugality, and claims of frugality are different.
Political misdirection can work --- until bills come due.And have the bills ever come due! Liberals in Concord increased spending by 23% over two budgets while hiking 67 taxes and fees. Revenue under-performed, so liberals resorted to stealing $110 million of private funds (JUA) belonging to physicians. Even after the Supreme Court nixed that plan, they are still trying to change the rules to pilfer the doctors' money.
Two of the 67 new taxes, the Camping Tax and the LLC Income Tax were so egregious they were repealed. Several others such as capital gains, estate, gasoline, higher business taxes, and town taxes on rooms and meals passed either the House or Senate before being ultimately dispatched. Rest assured though, those taxes are on the shelf—ready to go.
Excuse the cynicism, but isn’t it hilarious to see politicians who touted the LLC Income Tax as a mere loophole closure, now backslapping each other upon repeal?
It’s also dumbfounding when liberals now cheerfully accuse fiscal conservatives of trying to foist the largest property tax increase in history on New Hampshire residents. For blatant political spin … that’s super-sized. Why? These same liberal Democrats downshifted over $100 million of costs to cities and towns raising property taxes --- and are being sued for these shenanigans by the organization that represents cities and towns, the NH Municipal Association.
It gets worse!
Faced with a $600 million deficit in the next budget due to chronic over-spending, over-borrowing, and over-reliance on the Stimulus, Governor Lynch has ordered department heads to pare budgets by 5%. Yet only months ago when a number of us proposed exactly that legislation, it was panned and consigned to legislative rubbish.
Liberals have also become afflicted with a severe case of Pinocchio Nose Syndrome when discussing NH’s business climate and our ranking by the Tax Foundation. See “Facts and Figures” at www.taxfoundation.org. The Tax Foundation uses five different indexes to rank every state. Corporate Taxes: NH is 50th -- worst in the nation. Unemployment Insurance Taxes: NH ranks 39th. Property Taxes: NH is 40th.
Thankfully our overall ranking is 7th but only because of NH’s rank of 9th for income taxes and 2nd for sales taxes. Those high ranks are achieved because NH’s resisted both broad-based taxes.
Perhaps it’s refreshing our liberal friends would care about NH’s business climate after their binge of taxing and spending. However, they’ve hardly stood shoulder to shoulder with fiscal conservatives opposing both taxes over the years. They could help maintain that favorable business ranking by pledging to vote against an income or sales tax next January when the rubber meets the road and NH collides with a budget deficit of historic proportions. The $600 million projected deficit represents nearly 20% of our General Fund.
With profound economic uncertainty and business climate concerns paramount, voters are parsing candidate's promises and performance. The Americans for Prosperity survey is illustrative: www.americansforprosperity.org/new-hamps. It asks direct questions: will you cut taxes, fees, and oppose an income or sales tax? Will you cut spending and the size of government? Will you uphold the NH and US Constitutions?
Of the candidates for the NH Senate who signed this pledge, only one---that’s right just one---is a Democrat. The rest who signed are Republicans.
The jam for liberal Democrats in NH is that they not so secretly pine for an income or sales tax. Recall Governor Jeanne Shaheen once proposed a sales tax. An income tax actually passed in the House in 1999 predominantly supported by Democrats, and yes several Republicans.
This liberal drumbeat in Concord, or for that matter in Washington, has not changed. They contend Americans are obligated to pay their full fair share of taxes. Thus, it’s easy for liberal legislators to pass the LLC Income Tax –without a public hearing –then claim it just closes a loophole. That’s their worldview despite the burden falling squarely on small business owners who NH relies upon to create jobs and lift the economy.
Most liberals won’t campaign for either an income tax or sales tax. They’re too faithful to their cause to fall on that sword. But, when faced with at least a $600 million deficit in the next budget, what will they do? When faced with nearly a $300 million deficit in the current budget, they could barely muster the will to cut $52 million.
Will they reform our Medicaid system, 10th costliest in the nation? Will they curtail a costly education funding plan that Phoenix-like re-creates donor towns? Will they implement across the board cuts previously rejected, support pension and health care reform and make other cuts? Don’t bet the farm.
Liberal Democrats' non-answers on tax surveys illustrate the difficulty of imitating fiscal conservatives when the bills mount. Perhaps their silence now, helps elect them. Let’s see if they also jump for joy like John Kerry did when he discovered high taxes actually apply to him!