Millionaires, Taxes & Reform

We now have it spelled out as plainly as can be the two different approaches to government. New Jersey has a budget hole. The governor wants to slash spending to balance the budget. The Legislature just passed a bill today that will raise taxes to help bridge the budget hole. The governor is likely to veto it.

It could not be any plainer than this.

Partisans will point out that the Republican is cutting spending and the Democrats want to raise taxes. While that is true here (and in other cases), let’s not be fooled in thinking Republicans don’t raise taxes. Rather, it would be more on point to say that the conservative is cutting spending and the government workers are raising taxes.

All across our country, municipalities, states, and the federal government are wrestling with huge budget holes. Raising taxes seems to only grease the wheels of the machine that is causing the huge budget holes. True reform is not going to occur with targeted taxes, being creative with taxes, or pandering to specific constituencies.

Government is growing. For me (and I suspect many others), that is not a good thing. Limiting government is good.

Yes services will be lost. Overall, that is good for us. Will some take advantage? Absolutely. The counter is that folks are taking advantage now. (Who are the politically connected? If you are not among them, you lose.)

It is easy to point to the federal government and its roles. The Constitution does a pretty good job at defining it. State and municipalities are less defined. But when we can have three different tax zones in the town I live in, I think we have allowed government to mess too much. We pay 7% for goods and services at the “regular” stores. But if we purchase those same goods and services at a UEZ store, we only pay 3.5% . . . unless you attend the racetrack where you spend 9%. It’s convoluted.

Just as crafting a special tax for those who make more than $1 million annually.

Cut, cut cut spending!

Also blogged on this date . . .

8 thoughts on “Millionaires, Taxes & Reform”

  1. Good for Christie. Thank you Robert for mentioning the 9% sales tax rate on non-tangibles out at the racetrack. I have been complaining about this forever, but it has largely fallen on deaf ears. I wrote several times to the DJ, and an editor there a few years back promised me that they would run an article on this. Of course, I am still waiting. I have written Van Drew about this — the legislator responsible for the 9% rate — and he never responds. When he proposed the legislation, a citizen testified about its effects, and Van Drew denied the rate would be 2% higher than the state’s standard rate since the region was a UEZ. What he failed to point out was that most of what is sold at the racetrack is nontangible and thus not subject to the reduced (3.5%) rate. Bottom line: Van Drew is not a truthful politician; I could never support him.
    The Democrats’ re-instatement of the “millionaires’” tax is nothing but politics. If it is such good policy then why did they allow the tax to expire? It could have been continued while Corzine — a supporter — was still in office. The Dems are just playing politics.
    Again thank you for mentioning Millville’s 9% sales tax district. It should get more publicity than it does. I will never go out there, and, like you, I actually enjoy motorsports, but not if it I will end up being charged a sales tax rate that is higher than NYC or LA! Convoluted indeed!

  2. Things are even more convoluted than that. In Millville you will pay 7% for taxable items in stores that do not participate in UEZ. Within UEZ, you will pay 3.5% for tangible items but 7% for non-tangibles, such as prepared food, drink, etc. Out at the racetrack, in Millville’s UEZ Sports and Entertainment District you will pay 5.5% (3.5% + an added 2%) for tangible items (not sure what one would buy at the track that’s tangible) and 9% (7% + 2%) for non-tangibles. Convoluted indeed!

  3. For years some have followed the philosophy to starve the beast “STB”. Basically it goes that in order to slow government spending you need to decrease tax revenues therefore guiding the government to cut spending. Alan Greenspan was a big proponent in 1978 followed by the supply sides during Reagan (David Stockman). However, it turns out, historically starving the beast has not worked. Look at Bush II vs his Father and Clinton. Bruce Bartlett wrote a post that I thought was illumiinating and reminded me of some of the history going all the way back to Eisenhower. You might want to give it a read.

    http://capitalgainsandgames.com/blog/bruce-bartlett/1705/all-time-fiscal-fallacy-tax-cuts-starve-beast

  4. STB doesn’t work at the federal level because the U.S. government (like other countries) can and does run a deficit. STB is a bit more successful at the state level and below because these governments cannot run a deficit. This a bit misleading as these government do issue bonds (long term loans). STB is not applicable to the local sales tax Robert and I have talked about because here the tax goes right back to the business. I am becoming increasingly concerned by the increased collaboration between government and business. Both these entities are responsible for our loss of money either through taxes or purchases, and I worry when they are in cahoots. I long for the good old days when businesses and government were often adversaries — it kept the two in check. Now we get businesses going up to Trenton saying please Senator Van Drew don’t cut our UEZ money. And, of course, Senator Van Drew, is all too willing to comply with their wishes.

  5. The only way to reduce the cost of New Jersey’s payroll is to stop spending. Reducing the payroll saves current and future dollars. Eliminating programs that make no sense (rebate program) is good politics.

    Simplifying government will go a long way to making it efficient.

  6. I agree that it was better when business and government were not necessarily adversaries, but how about just not so in the pocket of each other. But when was that? Isn’t it all about campaign finance reform? Can a congressperson have their office chief of staff retire one day, then 6 months later lobby him for a multi-national? It was shown today where Obama was the second biggest receiver of oil co. donations behind McCain. So what gives?

    And are you serious with the new Alito/Roberts supreme court decision?

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