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Smart bombs: Let’s tax spin

Let’s tax spin

You have to give anti-tax forces their due. They know how to market and sell their opposition. For years, the estate tax quietly collected from wealthy families when money was passed from one generation to the next. Then it was renamed the “death tax,” and the government was suddenly charged with reaching into graves for its filthy lucre. “Family farmers” in dusty overalls were pushed into the spotlight as the victims of this grim reaper.

Among the manipulators behind the curtain were the families that owned Gallo wine, Campbell’s soup, Wal-Mart and Mars candies.

The latest attempt at spin is called the light-switch tax. Flip on a light, and the U.S. treasury goes ca-ching! The nonpartisan truth seekers at Politifact sniffed this one out. It started with this assertion in a March 24 press release from the House Republican Conference:

“The (Obama) administration raises revenue for nationalized health care through a series of new taxes, including a light-switch tax that would cost every American household $3,128 a year.”

What they’re saying is that an assessment on power companies for emissions under a proposed cap-and-trade scheme would be passed along to consumers. They cite MIT calculations from a different cap-and-trade proposal to arrive at their per-household figure.

But that MIT economist, John Reilly, cried foul and told Republicans that their math is wrong. It should be $79, not $3,128. Thus far, the GOP response is to stay on message: “La-la-la-la … light-switch tax.”

Maybe there ought to be a pants-on-fire tax.

Can’t you see the sign? I’m all for a broad-based state income tax. It would help reverse the unconscionably regressive system we have in this supposedly progressive state. But Democratic leaders have had years to install one. Their sudden call to tax the wealthy to aid the poor conceals their lack of courage in adopting a broader measure.

It brings to mind those signs often seen in workplaces: “A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

Smart Bombs is written by Associate Editor Gary Crooks and appears Wednesdays and Sundays on the Opinion page. Crooks can be reached at or at (509) 459-5026.


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