Wednesday, June 13, 2018

More Candidates Sign the Tax Pledge

On his radio show today, Rush Limbaugh made an important point (as he so often does). Senator Bob Corker (RINO-Tenn.) had made some rather insulting comments about Republicans who back President Trump, suggesting that their support creates a "cult-like" atmosphere in the GOP. Limbaugh explained that Corker's inability to understand Trump supporters is typical of someone who does not see the new dynamic in American politics. This is, Limbaugh said, not about left vs. right, but about insiders vs. outsiders. Corker, an insider, is unable to comprehend why people on the outside don't like him and his establishment buddies. 

I disagree with Limbaugh on the left vs. right part. The insiders are very much leftists, either explicitly in their support for the egalitarian welfare state, or implicitly in their relentless fight to grow government in general. With that little amendment, Limbaugh's point is definitely applicable to Wyoming. Here, we are fighting a politocracy whose main policy goal is to defend and grow big government. This politocracy, sadly, currently runs our legislature and our governor's office. 

One of the issues that is dividing the politocrat insiders from the people is taxes. Last year's Taxmageddon fight boiled down to just that: the people who wanted higher taxes took no notice of how those tax hikes would negatively affect our lives. All they were focused on was to rake in as much revenue as they could to continue - even grow - government spending.

Outside the politocratic circles, we the taxpayers continue to fight for our right to determine our lives and our future by our own means. One part of this fight is the issue whether or not our next governor will be a tax hiker or a fiscal conservative. Here, again, grassroot activists are making a difference. A good example is M Lee Hasenauer, candidate for county commissioner in Laramie County. Thanks to him, I have in my hand two more signatures to the 2018 Tax Pledge. Bill Dahlin and Rex Rammell have both added their names to it, which means that we now have a majority of candidates running for governor who have explicitly come out against higher taxes: Taylor Haynes and Harriet Hageman are as strongly opposed to tax hikes as Dahlin and Rammell; Sam Galeotos has taken a slightly more flexible stance but still expresses his opposition to higher taxes.

Rammell also added, for unmitigated clarity, that he will not raise property taxes. Although this is covered by the pledge itself...
As candidate for Governor of Wyoming in 2018, I hereby pledge to not sign any bill that will raise any tax, or create any new tax, or create any other revenue source with similar effects as higher taxes, for as long as I am Governor of Wyoming.
it is always good when a candidate goes up and above to explain his or her opposition to higher taxes. 

The question now is where Foster Friess and Mark Gordon are on this issue; as for Mary Throne, it might be worth asking her if she would sign a pledge to raise taxes.

I also want to recognize Hasenauer's work on the tax issue from another viewpoint. As a candidate for county commissioner in Laramie County, he has taken a pledge similar to that presented to our gubernatorial candidates. In doing so, Hasenauer has drawn our attention to a possible way around the gubernatorial tax pledge that his initiative would close the door on. As it becomes tougher to raise taxes at the state level, it is likely that legislators eager to "raise more revenue" will turn to local communities and let them do the work. State and local government finances are in close tandem with each other here in Wyoming, making it comparatively easy to raise local taxes instead of state taxes. 

Strictly speaking, the tax pledge bans a governor from signing any bill that raises the tax burden, period. This should, by any reasonable moral standards, include both the state and local governments, although I do leave it open to the signers to talk to their voters about that particular issue. Nevertheless, it is quite possible that the tax hikers in our legislature will try to find a way to push tax increases over to local governments. Keep in mind that many of our lawmakers are lawyers and therefore trained in finding loopholes in, and ways around, obstacles to government expansion. 

Again, thank you to Bill Dahlin and Rex Rammell for signing the tax pledge. Thank you also to Hasenauer for his hard work on this issue, and for the creative initiative to take the tax pledge down to the county level. Perhaps other candidates for county commissioner, both in Laramie County and elsewhere, would be interested in pledging to leave taxpayers alone for the next four years?

With all that said, I also want to remind everyone again: pledging to not raise taxes is a necessary start of fiscal conservatism, but it is only a start. The next step is to start talking about spending reform. Our candidates for governor have begun doing it; hopefully, that conversation will spread to other races as well.

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