One of the longest-running myths in American politics is the notion that raising taxes is “hard.” MSM and the Dems love to talk about tax-hike votes as solemn sacrifices that risk political oblivion for the “responsible” decision, as opposed to those of us who supposedly take the “easy way” of opposing higher taxes.
Reality, sadly, is a little different.
In 2011, of all years, when the voters made abundantly clear what they think of big government by electing the largest Republican House majority in over 60 years and the most Senate Republicans in 30 years, tax hikers should be few and far between.
Yet in Prince William, a would-be candidate for U.S. Senate is reaching into taxpayers pockets for new parks. Meanwhile, Republican Senators in Washington – including Tom Coburn, who really should know better - are rolling over for tax increases to solve “urgent problems” (Bearing Drift: please note that the author of that post recently raised taxes on his own constituents in Fluvanna – Free Enterprise Forum).
What gives? A painful reality: raising taxes is easy.
In reality, it’s hard to offer alternatives to tax increases: anyone impacted by the alternative spending cuts takes it personally, political opponents whip up demagoguery and straw men, and the next thing you know, people who have never met and never will declare you to be a heartless brute. If you’re lucky, you won’t be accused of cutting the very things you specifically promised not to cut. It’s more likely you’ll have to dig out from under an avalanche of mistakes from the ignorant and outright lies from the unsavory.
A tax increase, on the other hand, is a fast track to MSM praise, a chance to skip all those arguments over spending numbers, and a whole bunch of things the politician can present to the voters as “things I’ve done for you”.
In economics, when we talk about why tariffs survive despite their damaging effects on the economy, we talk about concentrated benefits (to the protected domestic producers) and diffused costs (to the consumers). It’s actually a similar situation in government budgets: the govenrment programs or departments that benefits from the tax increase are far more visible than the damage done to the economy and to taxpayers from the tax hike.
So, like in 1990 (Washington), 1993 (Washington again), 2004 (Virginia), 2007 (Virginia again), 2011 (Prince William), and pick-a-year (Spotsylvania), our elected officials talk a good game about tightening their belts, then force us to tighten ours.
Why? Because it’s easier, and until that changes, it will just keep happening.
Cross-posted to Virginia Virtucon