A couple of years ago, shortly after a tough year for the state GOP, Owen Robinson decided that he would take a page from Grover Norquist's playbook and circulate a "no new taxes" pledge among state legislators. Numerous GOP elected officials took the bait. Here's the key passage:
I am asking each of you to pledge that you will not vote for a budget that includes any tax increases or any fee increases that aren’t directly related to the cost of delivering the service. If this leads to no budget being passed any time soon, then so be it. The Republican Party should be proud to be the party that obstructs tax and fee increases - especially on people who are already overburdened by the cost of their government.Emphasis in the original. You can read the whole text of the pledge here.
But now that Scott Walker is about to inherit the Governor's mansion and the GOP control both houses of the legislatures, conservatives are quickly realizing that their rhetoric is not compatible with the fiscal reality. Here's Robinson yesterday:
I’m not philosophically opposed to ["hiking the sales tax from 5 percent to 7 or 7.5 percent"]. The nice part of the sales tax is that it is collected from more people thus broadening the tax base. It is also something that people have some control over paying. If I can’t afford the sales tax right now, I can reduce my spending. The down side is that people get used to it, so it’s usually less painful for politicians to raise it.
BUT, or shall I say BUT... the only way I could support this is if the other taxes are cut to offset the increase in the sales tax AND overall taxation and spending are decreased. Tax shifts virtually never work because the politicians always neglect the other side of the equation. Increasing the sales tax can only be done as part of an overhaul of our system of taxation.
The sales tax is in no way, shape or form "directly related to the cost of delivering a service" ... any service.
Almost four years ago Robinson thought so little of taxes he thought a government shut down was preferable to any increase and that GOP legislators should be proud of "obstructionism," but now that Republicans have to contend with the problem he's no longer "philosophically opposed" to the idea of some forms of tax increases now that Scott Walker & Co. have to deal with the problem.
Way to show some iron-spined resolve...
This is as craven a flip flop as they come. Robinson appends his blog post by declaring his sudden bout of tax flexibility as merely a "theoretical discussion," but this is nonsense. His pledge is clear in no uncertain terms, but these days Robinson's all about the ifs, buts, BUTs, maybes, possiblies, etc.
I hope the absurdity in calling this a tax "shift" rather than a "raise" is blatantly apparent to everyone watching this debacle. The GOP isn't even three weeks away from its electoral victory and they are already abandoning the uncompromising rhetoric that got them back in power in favor of equivocating blather they mocked democrats for just a few weeks ago. It should be a blast watching them actually try to govern.