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Victoria’s Secret: The “Broken Window” Theory of Tax Hikes

Prodigal Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman – smarting from backlash from donors and past supporters over her recently revealed decision to not sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge for her state senate run next year – put out quite the misleading e-newsletter column a few days ago.

A column I refused to publish on Nevada News & Views.

Unfortunately, Ms. Seaman has adopted the practice widely embraced by RINOs in which they only tell half the story when it comes to their record, leaving out the bad parts and thus giving a false impression.

It’s an intentional error of omission.  Specifically in Ms. Seaman’s case…

“My pledge to the voters of District 6 is not only my word, but also my record,” Ms. Seaman wrote.  “Voters not only appreciate my record, but equally important, they appreciate that I kept my word.”

Only…

She DIDN’T keep her word.

Ms. Seaman signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge when she ran for the Assembly in 2014.  It reads…

“I, Victoria Seaman, pledge to the taxpayers of the State of Nevada, that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”

Pretty clear cut.  “Any and all.”  No wiggle room.

Alas, Ms. Seaman broke her word, not once, not twice… but NINE times during the 2015 legislative session.  They were…

  • AB78:  Doubled the elk tag tax on hunters
  • AB85:  Doubled the government licensing tax for alcohol, drug and gambling counselors
  • AB191:  Raised taxes on “fuels for motor vehicles”
  • AB231:  Increased government licensing tax on chiropractors
  • AB246:  Raised cosmetology government licensing taxes, including on “shampoo technologists”
  • AB325:  Raised government licensing taxes on “private professional guardians”
  • SB44:  Increased government permit tax for oil and natural gas drilling
  • SB370:  Increased the government licensing tax on barber instructors
  • SB488:  Imposed government licensing tax on “community health worker pools”

But according to Seaman…

“Those were fees asked for by the people not taxes…”

I’m assuming she wrote that with a straight face.

Which reminds me of a scene from The Godfather.  Michael is confronting his brother-in-law, Carlo, about his brother Sonny’s murder and Carlo’s involvement in it.

“Don’t tell me you’re innocent,” Michael says to Carlo. “Because it insults my intelligence and makes me very angry.”

To claim “the people” wanted all those tax/fee hikes insults our intelligence and should make us very angry – especially those who have to pay more to the government.

Indeed, I’ve yet to hear from a single elk hunter, barber school teacher or shampoo technologist who said they told the Legislature and Ms. Seaman they wanted to pay more to get their mandated government licenses.

Ms. Seaman, you are free to make excuses for your votes.  But don’t try telling us you kept your word, because you didn’t.  It’s right there in your record.

Which brings us to another point raised by a couple of people I’ve spoken with on this matter…

Yes, it’s true that Ms. Seaman voted against the big $1.4 billion tax hike – and taxpayers are certainly grateful to her for that.

And yes, by comparison the nine violations of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge are de minimis (I’ve been reading WAY too many legal briefs lately!).

However…

In 1982, James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling introduced “The Broken Windows Theory.”  It goes like this…

“Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. 

“Or consider a pavement. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of refuse from take-out restaurants there or even break into cars.”

If you don’t take corrective action for small problems, you’re only going to get far bigger problems down the road.

And that’s exactly what happens when legislators start making excuses for votes to increase money going to the government by claiming “it’s just a small increase.”

Or worse, trying to play semantic games by referring to a mandatory government tax as a “fee” and claiming the “fee” increase isn’t a tax increase.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

And a tax hike by any other name still stinks on ice.

But here’s the thing…

There’s a good chance Seaman is going to draw a primary challenge from Assemblyman Erv Nelson – who voted for the $1.4 billion tax hike.  And given the choice between those two, Seaman will clearly be the lesser of two evils.

But if she wins both the primary and the general and becomes a senator, the bright red warning signs are already there.  “Danger, Will Robinson, danger!”

So don’t be surprised when Seaman ends up joining the Go-Along-to-Get-Along Caucus.

By knowingly and willfully refusing to sign the Tax Pledge, as well as the conservative Contract with Nevada, Seaman’s already halfway there.

Now, I fully understand why some will continue to supporting her against Nelson in the primary or the Democrat in the general election.  Believe me, I get it.

But if conservatives ever want to REALLY change Carson City, they need to support candidates in 2016 who are unafraid to put their opposition to tax hikes in writing… and then honor their word once elected.

No Tax Pledge, no donation.  No Tax Pledge, no door knocking.  No Tax Pledge, no endorsement.  There are simply too many other more-deserving conservative candidates out there.

So let it be written; so let it be done.

FAMOUS LAST WORDS

“Seaman’s decision not to sign the Pledge is depressing.  With Assembly Republicans, 90% of pledge signers opposed Sandoval’s tax package; 80% of non-pledge signers supported it.  No better test.” – NN&V subscriber

“We had Victoria as a guest speaker at the April 2015 Nevada Republican Assembly Convention.  Instead of having something to say, she was ready to drop out.  Sharron Angle was there and began to dialogue with Victoria. Victoria began to understand what was going on as Sharron answered some of her questions.  My thought was that the ‘system’ we call the legislative session had Victoria spinning like a top.  . . . They don’t know what they are in for if they are shallow in their understanding.” – NN&V subscriber