Earmarked taxes

Townhall.com::Gas tax trial ballon::By Alan Reynolds

“New York Times columnist John Tierney had a more viable idea a year ago. He proposed raising gasoline taxes by 50 cents, but only if and when gas prices fell — “an extra dime of tax per gallon whenever the retail price falls by 20 cents.” He also proposed that every dime of extra revenue would be tightly earmarked to go into private savings accounts for every adult citizen (or perhaps children, too) with a Social Security number.”

Some years back the Brazilian legislature passed the Provisional Contribution on Financial Movement (CPMF), a “temporary” tax on all bank account movement. Any time you deposited or withdrew money or checks in your account, you were taxed for it. The money was designated to go to hospitals.

1. No politician ever votes in a temporary tax. Once a tax goes into law, it becomes Mede-and-Persian heritage, i.e., never will get removed. It will likely be increased, but not axed.

2. Politicians love to call taxes contributions, believing in their heart of hearts that citizens love to give them money. Tax is obligatory; contribution is voluntary. But they always did like to play loose with words.

3. In an interview after he left government, the Minister of Health complained that he never saw the color of the monies raised from the CPMF. If American congressmen dipped into the Social Security funds before, why should they keep their fingers off more gas taxes designated for special SS accounts? Do you actually trust government with your money? And what does “tightly earmarked” mean? Laws are as good as those who make them. And those who make them can, tomorrow, remake them and divert tax monies as easily as beavers divert a meandering stream.

So why is a conservative pundit touting a liberal NYT (sorry for the redundancy) columnist’s tax scheme? I don’t profess to understand economics (and I doubt 99% of economists do), but I always thought conservatism existed to get the government off the backs of the people. (My version is, to get it out of their pockets.) So I profess puzzlement, as I do about a lot of what the GOP and associates say and do today, over considering one tax proposal more viable than another. The issue is, if not getting rid of taxes, of reducing them, at least — not raising them.

No wonder the GOP is panicking at these mid-term elections. Well should they be.

J. Randal Matheny

Be pithy.

What do you think?