State Sen. Rob Marionneaux got his bluff called and he doesn’t like it, exactly the opposite reaction of what should come from true fiscal conservatives in regards to his bill that now eliminates income taxes over time and promises to reduce the size of government.
Marionneaux offered up SB 259, which in amended form reduced by a tenth state individual and corporate income taxes annually starting in fiscal year 2012-13. But it further got amended on the Senate floor to force a commission to come up with a cost-cutting plan to offset static revenue losses that must gain legislative approval before the beginning of that fiscal year in order for the snipping to begin.
Which perturbed Marionneaux to no end, as he thundered about how it was a hidden effort to derail the idea of wiping out the taxes.
That’s a possibility, as political elites not serious about the concept could come up with a plan so draconian and politically liable that it would not get approved in a year’s time. But Marionneaux’s indignation would be a whole lot more convincing if he had been honest from the start.
For Marionneaux originally sold the idea in committee and beyond by saying he would come up with amendments to it that would eliminate tax exemptions to “pay” for the reduction of revenue. But after repeated opportunities to introduce them when the measure hit the Senate floor and others called on him to do so, he claimed he could not because an elimination would then require a two-thirds vote to approve of the amended package, as by Art. VII Sec. 2 of the Constitution.
After that, state Sen. Jack Donahue proposed the amendment that said a plan had to be drawn up where a panel mostly of legislators would offset “through the reduction or elimination of various tax exemptions, exclusions, deductions, rebates, or credits; the reduction or elimination of government services; enhancing effectiveness, efficiencies, and/or economies in the provision of government services, including restructuring state government; or some combination of these actions.” With mostly Republicans for and Democrats against, it passed.
Consider that if Marionneaux genuinely wanted tax relief, this should have been more than acceptable to him. It seems he argued that the bill with reductions only could pass with simple majorities but could not get a two-thirds vote; hence, if buying those premises, the Donahue amendment was a backdoor attempt to kill the bill. But note that the language of the amendment would allow a product to come forward if it reduced the size of and/or made more efficient the operations of government only needed a simple majority vote, mooting the danger that a two-thirds vote would present.
Yet this he and many other Democrats found objectionable. Logically, then, the only explanation for opposition was they did not want to see government be made smaller by these means, which does not square with the original desire to eliminate the tax unless they are hyper-supply-siders that think getting the government’s hand out of people’s wallets will prove to be such a economy-booster that the boon in productivity set off would create revenues more than enough to offset the elimination when captured by other taxation methods. It’s impossible to believe the Obamanomics disciples that make up most of Louisiana’s elected state Democrats would think this, so we are left with the inevitable conclusion that their enthusiasm for the bill was more to try to embarrass genuine fiscal conservatives, by presenting them with hard choices that could spur voter backlash if the bill passed or to force them to vote against it (or in the case of Gov. Bobby Jindal, to veto it), than any actual fervor for lower taxation.
Instead, Donahue turned the tables and unmasked these true intentions. There’s nothing wrong in getting cuts in government up front before weaning off taxpayers’ munificence – especially when, as noted previously, enough sensible and logical cuts could be made within next year to fund nearly the first two years worth of cuts. And, the loss in revenues won’t be nearly as much as forecast, precisely because of the rectitude of supply-side thinking based on economic dynamism on this issue.
The only thing better than getting big tax cuts is getting them and downsizing government at the same time. What was a good but uncertain bill now is a great bill, and any actual fiscal conservative should support this best chance in a long time to increase personal liberty and set the stage for greater economic development for all in Louisiana.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 07:15