Pa. GOP should not raise taxes
With the state budget over a billion dollars out of balance and elections approaching, the pressure is on the governing Republican majority in Harrisburg to raise taxes. They should not. To do so would be bad public policy, bad politics and an abandonment of promise and principle.
Gov. Tom Corbett has followed a pro-growth path to restoring the economy of Penn's Wood, battered by the lackluster economic recovery and a fiscal mess left by his predecessor. He has delivered in that regard, with unemployment in the state slipping to a five-year low of 5.6 percent. Much of that drop can be attributed to the economic boom brought about by the Marcellus shale industry, which has thrived precisely because Corbett has refused to enact a job-crippling severance tax.
It has been proven that as taxes go higher, economic activity decreases and tax revenue declines, and cutting taxes attracts investment, which leads to economic expansion that creates more jobs and ultimately results in more tax revenue.
President Calvin Coolidge and his Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon pioneered the policy of keeping government expenditures low, cutting tax rates and thus reaping more tax revenue triggered by economic prosperity. The Coolidge-Mellon plan worked. President John F. Kennedy followed their example in the early 1960s, as did Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and to a lesser extent George W. Bush early in his administration. In each case the lower tax rates bolstered the economy and increased tax revenue.
As the governor and the Legislature battle calls from the spending interests to raise taxes, they would be wise to heed both the lessons of history and the current improving economy by resisting raising taxes and instead focusing, as the governor has suggested, on the cost drivers in the state budget.
Not only is increasing taxes bad public policy, it is bad politics. Of course Democrats, along with left-wing pressure groups and liberal voices in the news media, want the GOP to raise taxes. To do so would be to fund the various constituent groups beholden to the Democratic Party while leaving Republicans — who hold majorities in both houses of the General Assembly and the governor's office — solely blamed by the working families, senior citizens and small businesses that must pay the tab. Worse, if taxes are raised, Democrats and their allies will take credit for “forcing” the GOP to raise taxes, energizing their core constituencies in the run-up to November's elections.
The social conservative wing of the Republican Party is already disillusioned. If the GOP caves on taxes, it will likewise depress economic conservatives. The end result will be lackluster Republican turnout at the polls in November. And anybody who thinks such a move will entice independents and Democrats to vote Republican probably also believes if you like your health insurance you can keep your health insurance.
As we approach the constitutionally mandated budget deadline, pressure will mount on the governor and the Legislature to give in and raise taxes. The voices urging them to do so will continue to feed at the government trough while the GOP pays the political price and the productive sector pays the economic price. It is a course of action they would be wise to avoid.
Lowman Henry is chairman and CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly “Lincoln Radio Journal.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates notebook: Melancon bails out Watson with extended outing
- Steelers’ Bell unsure why NFL reduced his suspension
- McCutchen, Pirates cruise past Twins
- NHL notebook: Olympic hockey champion Craig to sell prized memorabilia items
- Mt. Pleasant Cemetery Association seeks aid to finance future upkeep
- Gameday: Pirates at Reds, July 30, 2015
- Fed holds steady on rates
- Chiefs star Berry beats cancer, returns to field
- Beaver County widow won’t lose home over $6.30 late fee
- Folding chair collapses, child loses tips of at least 2 fingers in Arlington
- Steelers unfazed by Brady suspension saga