Friday, October 13, 2006
The Oct. 10 Johnson City Press rightfully criticized the Northeast Tennessee members of the Americans for Tax Reform group, including Matthew Hill. These legislators were criticized, not for being anti-tax, but for not vowing to do a thing about deficit spending. Doesn't Hill's radio station carry the Dave Ramsey Show?
Perhaps anti-tax pledges also should come with a caveat stating that in addition to not raising taxes, elected officials also promise not to engage in deficit spending. Such a pledge would be refreshing, especially in Washington where the Republican-led Congress has erased all the gains made in the 1990s to lower the national debt.
Anti-tax pledges are generally a lot of political hooey. While it may sound good for a candidate to announce he or she has vowed never to raise taxes, it is often a hollow promise. State and federal officials have, for many years now, escaped tax increases by saddling local governments with unfunded mandates. Simply put, local taxpayers are being made to pay for all those promises.
Shifting the tax burden from one level of government to another is disingenuous. So is misleading voters into thinking that they are not paying more in other ways to cover the government’s cost of doing business. How many times have legislators increased existing fees for doing business with the state, or created new ones just so they can tell the voters they have not raised their taxes?
Elected officials should be completely honest when dealing with their constituents on the issue of taxes and spending. Arbitrarily signing a pledge is not the way to do it.