After Mitt Romney lost the presidential election, I thought Gov. Bobby Jindal planned to return to the reality-based world. He argued against dumbed-down conservatism, argued for broadening the tent to include more voters and he even broke with the Catholic Church on oral contraceptives.
However, I am now certain he has given up good sense as one of his New Year’s resolutions. On Jan. 10, he unveiled his plan for the upcoming legislative session: No more corporate or personal income taxes. Instead, he’ll raise the state sales tax rate by 3 percentage points.
It makes a good slogan, but it will be an unqualified disaster for Louisiana.
Let me explain what will happen if Jindal’s half-baked tax plan goes through.
We will have another revenue crisis just like we have had every year since 2008. The Legislature will pass a budget, and then Jindal will line-item veto what he wants to cut, often disciplining disloyal legislators in the process. The midyear cuts will be worse than before. Jindal will use his post-session power to slash and burn and privatize at will without legislative oversight. He will destroy state institutions and services.
Residents living near the border with Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi will shop outside of Louisiana. Many folks with Internet access will avoid taxes by shopping online.
The poor will see their tax burden skyrocket, and the rich will sing Jindal’s song for saving them a huge tax bill.
But don’t some states eschew income taxes? Yes, but they have high property taxes, which Louisiana will never accept or approve.
To learn more about the facts and ethics of these sorts of tax schemes, I invite you to read the work of Professor Susan Pace Hamill, a tax expert and law professor in Alabama. Hamill, a devout Methodist layperson, shows that these tax plans are designed to oppress the poor, and they do not meet the moral smell test. She argues that this kind of sales tax scheme is not Christian and morally repugnant. (Her writings are widely available online.)
If you hate the poor, this tax plan is for you. If you want to see Louisiana continue to approach Third World status, this tax plan is for you. If you are a young rising star in the Republican Party and want to get cozy with kingmaker Grover Norquist, this tax plan is for you.
Regardless, be careful of what you wish for. The chickens are already coming home to roost in Louisiana, and reckless Bobby Jindal won’t be gone until January 2016.
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