Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Saturday | May 17, 2003

George Bush raised your taxes

An interesting meme the Dems might want to explore is this simple correlation: while federal taxes are being cut for some, the massive increase in state and local taxes, due in part to an utter lack of federal relief and federal budget cuts for mandated programs, are hiking your taxes.

It doesn't matter if Bush cuts your federal taxes if your property and sales taxes climb, costing you hundreds of dollars more a year. Any federal refund will be more than gobbled up by local and state hikes on everything from parking tickets to hunting licenses.

Because the Bush Administration was completely uninterested in offering aid to states and localities, the states, which cannot print money, can only raise costs to cover the services that people want.

For nearly two decades the GOP has hammered the theme that lower taxes are good. The Dems have never, until recently, explained that there is a cost for this: which is lower services.

In New York, the governor, instead of looking at the state's dire fiscal condition and working with the legislature to raise taxes and cover costs, he wanted to place 4,000 slot machines around the state to raise money. Slot machines. Our governor, while amazingly lazy, is not stupid. Of course, he was angling to work for fellow Yalie George Bush, but he wasn't going to be able to make the cut.

But the point is this: federal tax cuts cost states money. They cost citizens money. While the President is talking about cutting taxes, the governors have to do all the heavy lifting and fund the programs which people demand.

It's time to shift the argument. Lower federal taxes not only mean higher state taxes in bad times, it means a lower standard of living. It means prisoners in your streets, schools operating four days a week, higher sales taxes, higher property taxes, dirtier streets and fewer teachers. States may have management issues and have overspent during good times, but the lack of federal support means that there is no cushion for bad times and states catch it in the neck.

Low taxes may not be bad, but low services are. There is a limit past which no state can go without making life worse for people in a real, concrete and defined way. A few hundred dollars is going to the credit card company, not the economy. All that money, combined in an aid to states and locality grant means keeping libraries open, more cops, more teachers, more children in health care programs. All these things cost money.

At the end of the day, you need to ask: do you want a federal tax refund and convicts released early from jail or aid to the states and localities which could prevent the worst budget cuts? I think most people might pass on the $300 to keep from firing teachers and emptying jails.

Steve Gilliard

Posted May 17, 2003 01:05 AM | Comments (98)


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