Lawmakers responded with caution Friday to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposal to eliminate Louisiana’s income tax in exchange for higher sales taxes and other tax code changes, saying they needed more specifics about the idea.
They questioned how it will impact low- to middle-income families and whether sales taxes are too unstable a revenue source on which to base the state’s budget.
“I’m not for it or against it right now. I think that there are some promising concepts here, but we’re still talking about concepts. I’m not going to be anywhere until I see the specific language,” said Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, the tax-writing panel.
The question as to how it would affect low- to middle-income families was answered pretty succinctly by Rachel Maddow on Monday night, and when you put your thinking cap on and concentrate really, really hard…it’s not that difficult to figure out:
“Sales tax is therefore among the least populist ways of raising money for government, proportionally speaking. It takes the most from people with the least money, and the least from everybody who has more money. Because of that backwards impact, because it’s harder on the poor and easier on the rich, you might think a tax like that would be among the most unpopular tax ideas. But in bright red states, and states where Republicans have complete control of the government, that tax, all of the sudden, is really popular.”
WATCH (story continues below):
Why would this measure be popular by any stretch of the imagination? Over and over we hear that the GOP is tacking left – or at least to the hazy center – to try to recover from their mad case of voter rejection that took place just a few short months ago, and Jindal, who has been failing miserably as he campaigns against Republican stupidity (an oxymoron, I know), is the perfect example of the disconnect in the media and their coverage of the GOP as a governing party. If you want to see exactly how they govern, how they game the system to their own advantage, all you have to do is look at these red states where they have absolute control, where the slow but sure shift of wealth to the already wealthy is in full swing:
Kansas’ tax policy has caught the attention of its neighbors. Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska, a Republican, has introduced a bill to eliminate a variety of taxes, including ones on individual income and small businesses. Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, also a Republican, plans to call for modest income tax cuts, and Missouri lawmakers have discussed reforming their tax code.
But there is significant concern in Kansas over the cost of the tax cuts, which is expected to total nearly $850 million in the coming fiscal year. In the budget he presented last week, Mr. Brownback proposed to help cover the cost of those cuts by keeping in place a sales tax increase that was scheduled to expire this year and by eliminating the mortgage interest deduction. Both proposals have proven unpopular among conservatives and liberals alike.
“I think it’s going to be a hard sell,” said Representative Ray Merrick, the Republican speaker of the House, who supports the income tax cuts.
Critics say Mr. Brownback’s tax cut was passed on the backs of low-income Kansans. The bill included the repeal of tax credits for food, rental housing and child care that benefited low-income residents. Because of those repeals, the poorest 20 percent of Kansans will spend an additional 1.3 percent of their incomes, an average of $148 per year, on taxes, according to a report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The top 1 percent, meanwhile, will see the share of their income that goes toward taxes drop by 2 percent, or $21,087 per year, the report said.
This is where the media really screws us over in a lot of ways. We hear a lot of guff about the GOP embarrassment in November, and sure, the national GOP may have been rendered somewhat impotent in the general election, but their real power is now at the state level, where they have made impressive headway, which is why we’re seeing these drastic and harmful laws implemented, and there aren’t very many journalists covering it.
And the fact that the national Republican leaders are whining about being “annihilated” and being “portrayed as cruel and unyielding,” gives state Republicans the perfect cover to operate and enact this destructive legislation fairly unnoticed, which could very well be their strategy.
We joke a lot here at The Stew about the stupidity of Republicans, but one thing I’ve learned in observing them over the years: never underestimate their particular brand of stupid, because in a lot of ways, it’s working.