Saturday, November 13, 2010

FOUR MORE YEARS OF “VITAL” AND “ESSENTIAL” SPENDING

11/13/10

In his further efforts to force fulfillment of his “mandate” for an income tax increase (See my 11/9/10 post TAX ME, NOT THAT FELLOW BEHIND THE TREE!) down the throats of those of us who have not spent our lives on the public payroll, Governor Pat Quinn (no relation) has taken to calling the income tax hike a “surcharge for education.” As the Governor explains on this weekend’s edition of “At Issue” on WBBM Newsradio 78, “We’re going to need more revenue for education.” This is a curious and schizophrenic approach. In one moment, the Governor is telling us that we need an income tax hike to solve our fiscal woes; in the next he is telling us we need the money for the politicians’ all-purpose ipecac ameliorator “education.”

So we should ask the Governor a few questions. If we are raising taxes in order to spend more money on “education,” how does that help solve our fiscal problems? Such a move would imply no net reduction of our deficit. Of course, to the Governor, all spending on education, or almost anything, is “vital” and “essential," so he might argue that we would "have to" spend it in the future anyway. But just how vital and essential, by definition, is any future spending? If such spending is vital, how are we surviving now despite not spending that money?

The Governor argues that his income tax increase might be paired with some form of property tax relief. This, of course, is a favorite sleight of hand of pols from Dawn Clark Netsch to Jim Thompson to Rod Blagojevich to Pat Quinn, a sleight of hand for which the citizenry has not yet fallen. But leaving aside the virtual certainty that such property tax relief, even if it were to appear, would be evanescent while the income tax hike would be permanent, how would such a swap help the state’s fiscal condition? Property taxes are levied by local governments. The income tax is levied by the state of Illinois. The Governor surely knows this.

Governor Quinn’s efforts to apply syrup to the income tax increase by calling it a “surcharge for education” shows us that he is either ignorant of the workings of government or, as a lifelong public payroller, willing to try anything to get his hands on our money and is counting on us to fall for the “but it’s for education, for the kids” ploy that occasionally works for the more gullible among the suburbanites. Since no one can accuse the Governor of being ignorant (naïve, surely, but not ignorant), we can only conclude the latter.

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