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Hullabaloo


Sunday, January 13, 2013

 
Dispatch from the LOD*

by digby

Golly, what a great idea:

Hopes for overhauling the federal tax system are fading in Washington, but in some state capitals, tax reform experiments - some far-reaching - are fast taking shape.

Across the U.S. South and Midwest, Republicans have consolidated control of state legislatures and governorships, giving them the power to test long-debated tax ideas.

Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, for instance, called on Thursday for ending the state's income tax and corporate taxes, with sales taxes compensating for lost revenue.

A similar plan is being pushed by Republicans in North Carolina. Kansas, which cut its income tax significantly last year, may trim further. Oklahoma, which tried to cut income taxes last year, is expected to try again.

"When it comes to getting pro-growth tax reform done this year, the only real opportunities are at the state level," said Patrick Gleason, director of state affairs for Americans for Tax Reform, the Washington-based anti-tax lobbying group headed by small-government conservative activist Grover Norquist.

His group and other conservative pressure organizations, such as Americans for Prosperity, have targeted state capitals for tax reform campaigns.

Cutting income taxes and shifting the overall tax burden to consumption through higher sales taxes is a long-standing goal of some tax theorists. Critics argue that approach is regressive and unfairly burdens the middle class and the poor, who spend more of their earnings on items subject to sales tax.

Nicholas Johnson, a state tax expert with the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, gave the chances of sweeping tax changes taking hold a low probability.

Still, he said he worried the efforts in the states could move the tax discussion in a direction harmful to middle- and low-income taxpayers and make balancing state budgets harder.

"Even if this is too radical, if it makes other radical schemes seem more reasonable, that's worrisome," he said.

Funny how that works.

This is what I hate about our governmental scheme. It makes it possible for the reactionaries to spread out and regroup in 50 different places when their scams lose momentum in Washington. And yes, I know that it can work to advance progressive causes as well, but I'm guessing the right has about a five to one advantage at pressing their agenda on a state level than the left.

One thing you have to give them credit for: no matter what they pull, it serves their higher purpose. After all, they are going to get rid of a tax that poor and middle class people are not terribly burdened with and replace it with one they will see every time they buy their necessities. I have a sneaking suspicion that isn't going to endear them to government. Even if it blows back on some GOP politicians in the short run, in the long run it will reinforce the notion that government sucks.

Funny how that works too.

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