Wednesday, December 3, 2008
IN MY OPINION (Column)
For What Are Taxpayers Thankful?
By JON COUPAL
In this season of thanksgiving, please don’t blame taxpayers if they are distracted by the injuries being perpetrated against them by our political class.
California ranks 6th nationally in tax burden, but taxpayers are being assaulted by brain dead state and local politicians, who won’t be happy until we are number one. Unemployment is at 8.2 percent and rising, housing foreclosures are at a record level, and the economy, which is bad for most of the rest of the country, is even worse in our state.
Our government officials seem to be living in a fantasy world.
Facing a potential $28 billion shortfall over the next two years, the response by the governor and most in the Legislature is to seek to raise taxes while begging Washington for a bailout. Don’t be surprised if their next plan is to have the state invest tax proceeds in lottery tickets in the hope of striking it rich.
Still, while elected officials are trying to put coal in taxpayers’ stockings before Christmas time, there are a few things for which we can all be grateful.
First is Proposition 13, which limits annual increases in property taxes and forces the tax raisers in the Legislature to get a two-thirds vote of their colleagues to raise taxes. Fortunately, even in a body renowned for irresponsibility, there are usually more than a third of the members who understand the detrimental impact of new taxes on individual taxpayers and the overall economy and will vote no. So taxpayers are grateful, not only for Proposition 13, but for lawmakers who will defend their interests against great pressure for new taxes from special interests including public employee unions.
We at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association hear almost daily from those who are thankful for Proposition 13 and credit its most famous feature — limiting annual property tax increases to no more than 2 percent — for allowing them to keep their homes.
Just a few days ago we received a letter from the daughters of a woman is about to turn 100 years old. The retired school teacher was an early supporter of Howard Jarvis when he began campaigning to reform property taxes, and thanks in part to Proposition 13, she has owned her own home for 70 years. Taxpayers appreciate that, because of Proposition 13, this centenarian and millions of other homeowners can live in their homes without fear that their most important investment will be seized by the tax collector.
Taxpayers are also thankful for an individual who has devoted a career in politics to defending the interests of those who must pay government’s bills. At this writing, it appears that State Senator Tom McClintock will prevail in an exceedingly close contest to represent California’s 4th Congressional District in the House of Representatives, where his economic wisdom and common sense are desperately needed. The only down side is that he will no longer serve in the state Legislature, and as of yet, no one has come up with a way to clone him.
For taxpayers, having an ally in Tom McClintock is like having a small army on our side.
Tom’s energy and his ability to frame tax issues in a way that average citizens can clearly understand will make him a force to be reckoned with in our nation’s Capitol. Those members of Congress looking to raise the tax burden nationally or to load up their personal shopping carts with pork projects and earmarked wasteful spending will soon learn that McClintock is on the case, and for this, too, we are thankful.
While taxpayers are losing one champion in the California Legislature, taxpayers can nonetheless be thankful for some of the best leadership we have seen in years from the Republicans. Both Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines and Senate Republican Leader Dave Cogdill have guided their respective caucuses through difficult political shoals and they have rebuffed the relentless calls from so many quarters to relent and raise taxes.
As we’ve stated many times, the political elites will never get serious about prioritizing spending and standing up to the special interests until they realize that the supply of their drug of choice — taxpayer dollars — is finite. Given that fiscal conservatives in the Legislature lost only two seats in the national tsunami toward collectivism, taxpayers can be thankful that we at least have a fighting chance to stop further raids on our wallets and pocketbooks.
(The writer is an attorney and president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.)
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company