Our Views: The high cost of protection

Gov. Bobby Jindal worked an economic miracle with one four-letter word: T-A-X.

Well, it’s been a four-letter word in the State Capitol since Jindal became governor. He’s proclaimed his aversion to taxes to the point of opposing some sensible renewals of existing taxes.

And whenever he cuts a ribbon for a new project or plant, he proclaims the resulting jobs as a consequence of his suppression of the sin of excessive taxation in Baton Rouge.

Now, he’s outdone himself. With a single press statement, that he favors eliminating the personal and corporate income taxes with more reliance on sales taxes, the governor created jobs without even the benefit of the exertions of huge multi-national corporations.

This is the Lobbyist Full Employment Act of 2013.

Every interest group has had its what-does-this-mean-to-us bell rung. They turn to the expertise of lobbyists who know, or pretend they know, how the mysteries of the Capitol unfold.

At every level, business has interests in whether a corporate tax is lifted, or if the tax burden is just shifted into another category that costs a business money in another way.

And it’s not just businesses. Local governments of different sorts and jurisdictions that might very well have serious problems with the specifics of what the governor will propose and the Legislature will adopt.

True, we don’t know what the governor will propose and even less, given the sensitivity of seismic shifts in tax burdens, do we know whether the Legislature will agree.

Even better for the lobbying community: Want to talk to the folks drafting the bill? We sure could use an amendment to exempt X from provision Y, leading to the lobbyist getting $$$.

When a business fears that it could lose a million, or even a few hundred thousand here or there, the lobbyists’ business increases. When you talk about exposure to billions in shifts in the direction of tax collections, the economic development coup for the lobbyist community is manifest.

It’s a shame that the reforms of the past few years have set limits on how much one can spend on dinner for lawmakers at Baton Rouge’s finest restaurants. That collateral benefit of the Lobbyist Full Employment Act — its multiplier, as the state Department of Economic Development would call it, is limited.

Still, lobbyists should thank Jindal.