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In Sickness and In Health

When it comes to the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, Jon Ralston at the Las Vegas Sun, Steve Sebelius of CityLife and I aren’t exactly on the same page.

But let me tell you this: The philosophical and intellectual debates I’ve had with Ralston and Sebelius on this subject have been FAR more substantial and rigorous than any discussions on the same topic I’ve had with tax-hiking Republicans such as Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio or Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert.

Indeed, if any Republican candidate were to give me an intellectually and politically inarguable reason for not signing the Pledge which I couldn’t overcome, I’d give ‘em a pass on it. So far, however, none has come close to reaching that point.

That said, in his column today Ralston criticizes candidates for “signing a tax pledge that epitomizes what’s wrong with politics. It is superficial. It ties a politician’s hands….”

Exactly.

It reminds me of another pledge which ties people’s hands. It goes something like this:

“I, ________________, take you, _____________, to be my wife/husband; to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, forsaking all others, till death do we part.”

I’d argue that the allure of raising taxes is far more appealing to politicians than cutting spending, just as “hiking the Appalachian Trail” with a babe from Argentina can tempt a politician to completely destroy his marriage and career.

Meanwhile, in a separate blog post on the Tax Pledge subject last week, Sebelius wrote: “(Gubernatorial candidate Brian) Sandoval, in several media interviews today, said he won’t sign the (tax) pledge because it would make a candidate irrelevant to any debate over whether to raise taxes.”

Well, to a certain extent that’s true. But it’s also the point. Only by taking tax hikes off the table will tax hikes, you know, be taken off the table. Given the choice of raising taxes or cutting a pet project or slaying a governmental sacred cow, lily-livered politicians will raise our taxes every time.

Pledge signers are happy to be irrelevant to any debate over whether or not to raise taxes. They told voters they wouldn’t raise taxes, and the voters elected them knowing that promise. Why in the world SHOULD Pledge signers participate in a debate to break a campaign promise they were given a mandate to keep?

However….

Taking revenue increasing tax hikes off the table by signing the Pledge does NOT preclude a debate over revenue NEUTRAL tax reform which would, arguably, “broaden” the tax base and make our tax structure more “stable.”

For example, if it’s proposed that the sales tax be extended to services such as hair cutting and dry cleaning, it would NOT necessarily be a violation of the Tax Pledge is the sales tax rate were reduced to offset the revenue expected to come in from the new tax hike on services.

The problem is, the Left really isn’t interested in revenue-neutral tax reform; they’re hiding behind the notion of tax “reform” for the sole purpose of raising more money for the government. Period.

If Democrats ever truly want to sit down and discuss “broadening” the tax base to make it more “stable,” there’s no reason in the world why Tax Pledge signers can’t be at that table and totally relevant to the discussion. But if the underlying intent is simply to raise more revenue to grow government, fuggetaboutit.