Tax Pledge Elevator Going Up
In response to Jason Rosenbaum’s clarion Clash call for posts on tax pledges, or more specifically, anti-tax-increase pledges, from candidates, I hereby bite and he does not even have to send the limousine, anyway. Jason’s post certainly gave the people something good to read on a Sunday. I realize tax pledges are silly, and generally just politics easily gotten around by any good politician, or bad one with a good advisor, but they can serve a positive purpose.
I guess I sort of feel about them as I do sales tax holidays. At least they pin candidates down on their general feelings about taxation. Speaking just as a voter here, I know that someone who signs the pledge, and then lives up to it at least for the most part is probably someone I agree with most of the time. I also trust that most voters would realize that the pledge needn’t be absolute … and I would not penalize someone who broke the pledge for a truly necessary tax increase, which in theory may exist somewhere. I also would like to avoid hearing pledge arguments about legislative minutiae ("Are we talking redistricting here, or reapportionment?"), and certainly anyone who takes this pledge opens themselves up to silliness like that. Would a legislator who signed the pledge and then supported instituting a land tax in Saint Louis and Kansas City as part of phasing out the earnings tax be in violation of the pledge? They probably would, but I would certainly support that transition.
So, signing these pledges is really just a higher form of kissing babies. But politicians don’t do any harm when they kiss a baby, and these pledges don’t do any real harm either. Just don’t take them too seriously.
Over and out.