Beware of Democrats claiming to oppose tax increases
In the middle of a summer heat wave, in an off-election year, when a royal baby and courthouse dramas captured the public’s attention, the Democrats at the Statehouse enacted massive tax increases worth at least $500 million to fund transportation projects. Timing, they say, is everything.
By this time next year, those same legislators will be running for re-election and hoping the voters do not remember their role in the 2013 Tax Massacre. Escaping painful memories of “Taxachusetts” may be wishful thinking. The actions of the Democratic legislators are the political shenanigans upon which opposition campaigns
are built. As the chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, my job of recruiting candidates just got a whole lot easier.
Consider these key facts, which will undoubtedly be talking points in the 2014 races for the state Legislature:
* Along with raising the gas and cigarette taxes, the Democrats voted to impose a 6.5 percent sales tax on software computer services. However, they had no concrete understanding of the impact of the new law before they voted. Instead, Democrats were already promising to “fix” the law before it even took effect.
* Democratic lawmakers ignored a Republican plan to fund transportation projects without raising taxes. Democrats dismissed without discussion the Republican proposal to dedicate a portion of revenue growth to transportation, while also eliminating wasteful and inefficient policies that stifle cost-saving
* Democratic lawmakers who were quick to raise the gas tax have their travel expenses to and from Beacon Hill paid for by the taxpayers. They are reimbursed for traveling to and from work, a perk unheard of in the private sector. Legislative per diems cost taxpayers more than $500,000 in 2012.
* In the House, 16 Democratic representatives originally voted against the tax increase, but then ultimately voted to enact it. Sixteen Democrats were against the tax increase before they were for it. If they think they will be able to claim on the campaign trail that they voted against the tax increase and get away with it, they have another thing coming.
There are three Democratic state representatives who will deserve special mention. These three specifically ran in 2012 against raising the gas tax or taxes in general.
Similarly, Marshfield Rep. Jim Cantwell, a Democrat, reacted angrily last year when his opponent suggested he supported an increase in the gas tax. “I worked against the gas tax. We did not raise the gas tax. It’s an absolute lie,” he cried. He won’t be able to repeat that rhetoric in 2014.
My personal favorite is freshman Rep. Jonathan D. Zlotnick, Democrat of Gardner, who ran on a platform of opposing all tax increases, only to break his promise a mere seven months in office. Zlotnick’s campaign pledge:
“Like you and your family, the state has also had to make do with less — tighten its’ [sic] belt. It is my firm belief that enough of a burden has already been placed on our citizens who are already stretched too thin in these difficult economic times.
“That’s why I will not support any tax increases.”
The 2013 Tax Massacre has taught us a lesson: Beware of Democrats claiming opposition to taxes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kirsten Hughes is chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party.
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