By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
Since announcing his intention to raise State revenue though targeted tax increase measures, Gov. Robert Bentley has been pummeled by fellow conservatives and even the liberal leaning media.
Most of the attacks from the right are steeped in an ideology so ridged it threatens reason. While those from the left are simply “gotch-click-bait,” designed to give the bloviator a sense of superiority.
Many conservatives, like Pavlov’s dog, act impulsively when there is any mention of tax increase. They drool all over themselves before they even know the facts. Others sincerely believe that all taxes are bad, but at what point do tax cuts actually harm the citizen taxpayer?
“Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery,” said President Calvin Coolidge, and any sane person would agree. What is necessary is always up for interpretation and more often can be framed in the words of Will Rogers, “The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”
No one should want to increase the tax burden, but if we are intellectually honest sufficient taxes must be paid to keep the necessary functions of government working properly. We can’t want better roads, more police protection, better schools and “lock ‘em up and throw away the key,” unless there is adequate funding to pay them.
We hear about all the fantastic cuts Republicans have made on their mission to right-size government. Sadly this is more about “sloganeering” than actually governing. And have more in common with right-sizing a cheeseburger at a fast-food chain than really moving the State in the right direction. They down size the meat while leaving a big, old, gooey bun. Speaker Mike Hubbard has increased spending over his Democrat predecessor by 200 percent.
As for his colleagues, they have borrowed hundreds of millions to balance the budget, leaving the State further in the hole.
Bentley has finally said, enough is enough. We can’t continue to borrow our way out of debt.
His tax package asks that companies like ALFA and the Fortune 500 hundreds to act like they are a real part of the State and not the privileged elite, who shouldn’t pay a fair share. ALFA alone continues to suck millions out of the General Fund Budget, by threatening or buying legislators.
While the State taxes its poorest citizens, ALFA, its wealthiest State insurer, gets millions a year in tax breaks. This is dishonest and dishonorable.
I don’t want to send my fellow conservatives into what my mama used to call a hissy fit, but the Patron Saint of tax cuts, Ronald Reagan, did raise some taxes while cutting many more. This is what Bentley hopes to imitate.
In an article in CNN Money, tax historian Joseph Thorndike, said, “Reagan was certainly a tax cutter legislatively, emotionally and ideologically. But for a variety of political reasons, it was hard for him to ignore the cost of his tax cuts.”
He then discusses how in 1982 and 1984, Reagan, signed into law two bills that together “constituted the biggest tax increase ever enacted during peacetime.”
According to the article, “The bills didn’t raise more revenue by hiking individual income tax rates though. Instead they did it largely through making it tougher to evade taxes, and through “base broadening” — that is, reducing various federal tax breaks and closing tax loopholes.”
This is what Bentley has proposed and yet he is hammered by the right and left.
If indicted Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard had designed this plan, members in the House would be praising it for all its wisdom. You see, they are afraid of a man who is charged with 23 felony counts of public corruption. However, when Bentley, an honest man, proposes such an idea, they grandstand because they are not fearful of the governor.
They should be. Of course, what is most discouraging is the Bentley bashing, by the phonies on the right and left.
Barry Goldwater, who launched the era of conservative governments said, “Where is the politician who has not promised to fight to the death for lower taxes and who has not proceeded to vote for the very spending projects that make tax cuts impossible?”
That sums up most in the State legislature.
The people of our State did.