Mark Peters and Neil King, writing in The Wall Street Journal, described the party’s latest escapades, this time in state governments, late last week.
Republican lawmakers in several states are blunting plans by GOP governors to reduce or eliminate income taxes, putting the legislators at odds with figures many in the party see as leading voices on reshaping government.
Friction over tax policy within the GOP has flared in states such as Louisiana, Nebraska, Kansas and Ohio, as Republican lawmakers raise concerns over projected revenue losses from income-tax cuts. Three of those states shelved big income-tax cuts that would be paid for by broadening the sales tax, and in Kansas, legislators will return next week to a continuing debate over the size and speed of proposed cuts.
What is playing out is a collision of long-held Republican Party ideals as lawmakers want to cut taxes to spur economic growth without running up deep budget deficits. Most of the governors promoting cuts are first-termers who say the income tax damps consumer spending and business creation. The boldest plans, however, can’t be done without expanding the sales tax and eliminating certain exemptions, a shift many legislators aren’t willing to embrace.
As I’ve pointed out many times, these beefs flow from the false premise that the (state) governments need the revenues. No. Cut spending to fit within the (lower) taxes—which actual revenues will increase, anyway, from the resulting stronger and growing state economies. Reduce overdone services; eliminate the frivolous and/or duplicative ones (New Jersey has six separate services related to agriculture as well as an Arts Council and an Arts and Recreation service that are better done locally and/or in the private sector; Arizona’s descriptions of its state-run services run to 500 pages of…regulations); let the private sector do more with its own money; let private charity, church, community play more of their proper role.
Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma (R, Indianapolis) said of a tax reduction plan generated by Governor Mike Pence (R)
You can’t just have a reaction and say, “Yep, we’re going to cut a tax.” You have to look in the long haul—over a decade—to be sure it’s sustainable.
Yes, you can. It’s sustainable from cutting spending commensurately.
Peters and King note
[t]he tax debate in Republican-dominated capitols comes as national party leaders see the states as a source of policy innovations and fresh faces following Republican election defeats on the federal level last November. The Republican National Committee recently heralded its 30 GOP governors as “America’s reformers in chief.”
It’s hard to make this case, though, with the evident hypocrisy the Republican state legislators are showing.
Figure it out, guys. Either you’re for low taxes, little spending, and limited government, or you’re not. Do we need to generate a new party that takes shrinking government seriously?