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Thursday, November 23rd, 2017Last Update: Sunday, November 5th, 2017 11:44:31 PM

Tax Increases are Never Conservative

Richard Engle

In the effort to appear to govern, many Oklahoma Republican politicians continue to call for tax increases. A special session of the Oklahoma Legislature is hidden behind committee doors on the pretense that it will save money to avoid arguing the merits (or lack thereof) in open legislative session.

It’s true, the projected government revenues will not match the budgeted amounts. The Oklahoma Supreme Court threw out one of the unconstitutional tax increases foisted upon the state by the GOP lead Legislature and Governor Mary Fallin.

I had a private conversation shortly after Lt. Governor Todd Lamb took a stand against the tax increases proposed by the Governor. “Taxes are always inflation proof. They are a rate. As the economy grows or inflation occurs the revenues grow with it. An increase in tax rates says that the government is too small a consumer of the economy, and the private sector is too big.”

I will add that when the economy declines, or a significant tax paying sector of the economy declines, then tax revenues will also decline. People who depend on government services would have to do without, unless the government finds additional revenue to make up the short fall.

In a recent Facebook post Governor Fallin stated, “The cuts announced today by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services are nothing short of devastating. We must put people above politics.” Of course, the people the Governor is speaking of are the people who depend on government.

But what of the people who pay the freight for government? The cause of the tax revenue shortfall was an economic shortfall to the working people of the state. A tax increase would penalize Oklahoma families for experiencing a loss they are already suffering.

Putting people above politics would call for the state to tighten its belt when the productive people of Oklahoma are already doing the same thing.

Raising taxes makes the government a larger share of the economy. At a time when the economy of the state is hurting, enough for the state government to see it in the tax revenues, increasing the government share of (an albeit smaller) pie does not help. As often said by Rush Limbaugh, “You cannot tax your way into prosperity.”

About Richard Engle

Richard Engle is President of BellWest America. He has long been a fixture in conservative Republican politics in Oklahoma. He was twice elected to the Bethany City Council, served two terms as President of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, and over a decade as Vice President of the Oklahoma Conservative PAC. He is married to Denise Engle, Commissioner for the Oklahoma Workers Compensation Commission and they live in Oklahoma City. He may be reached by email at: engle@flash.net

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