Tuesday, September 16, 2003

That Alabama Tax Vote

This from Christopher Westley' who teaches economics at Jacksonville State University:

Last Week, voters in Alabama resoundingly rejected Gov. Bob Riley's tax plan by a margin of more than 2 to 1. The plan would have resulted in the largest tax increase in state history. "[The referendum's results were] pretty resounding. There's no mistaking the voters' message," David Lanoue, chairman of the political science departChristopher Westley, Ph.D., teaches economics at Jacksonville State Universityment at the University of Alabama, told the Birmingham News. "I think the top reason is voters simply don't trust their politicians in Alabama."

And voters elsewhere owe voters in the Heart of Dixie a debt of gratitude. Said Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform: "[E]very Republican governor who thinks of raising taxes next year will walk past Traitor's Gate and see Bob Riley's head on a pike. The voters in Alabama have saved taxpayers from California to Maine billions of dollars."

So you have to hand it to Alabama's electorate. When given the chance, it makes its opinion known loud and clear, even in the face of a massive and global campaign by elite opinion. On the question of new taxes, Alabama voters respond no differently than voters anywhere else in the world when given the chance. Their answer is now (and has always been): No. This is why political elites try to keep tax increases off ballots.

The results of the vote should not have surprised anyone. In fact, In fact, they reflect a growing anti-tax movement that public officials and the mainstream press are trying hard to ignore. Last November, voters in Massachusetts almost passed a referendum that would have eliminated that state's income tax. In 2001, anti-tax protests at the state capitol in Tennessee grew violent, causing shaken state legislators to reconsider new tax proposals. Given these sentiments, even the most Herculean efforts to increase the government's claim on private wealth were doomed to fail.

As a result, Riley sacrificed much political capital. Alabama voters are simply not going to support such an expansion of state taxing authority during a recession, not when the Feds are already taking 30 percent of their income. Not with the legislature's Mike Tyson-like reputation for fiscal responsibility. And certainly not on the basis of the University of Alabama law professor Susan Pace Hamill's agenda-tinged scholarship supporting the belief that low taxes are sinful.

Not now. And in the Heart of Dixie, probably not ever.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Charley Reese--Comment on Bush's Extreme Folly
Don't Even Think About Raising Taxes (washingtonpost.com)

My friend, Grover Norquist, writes in the Washington Post on the national political implications of Billion Dollar Bob's foray into the tax increase tar baby.
Does Rep. Ford have a better idea?

Probably not. But Novak writes that Ford just might be a player in the Social Security "reform" debate. Worth a flyer and look-see.