Citizens for Limited Taxation & Government
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*** CLT&G Update ***
Saturday, March 14, 1998

Barbara’s Bi-Weekly Column

Greetings activists and supporters!

Too bad Barbara has a mid-week deadline to get her column written and submitted, and we didn’t yet know about the Finneran’s "Tax Relief" Plan’s Tax *Increase* -- but we sure do now!

Chip Ford—
PS—The entire House debate on the tax "cut" is now posted on our website:

The (Quincy) Patriot Ledger
Saturday, March 14, 1998

Conspirators will fell taxpayers on Ides of April
By Barbara Anderson

Never mind the Ides of March, beware the Ides of April.

That’s when the broken promises return to haunt us. Yon Cassius Finneran has a lean and hungry look, and Brutus Birmingham is taking direction from him as he argues that the temporary tax wasn’t temporary. Caesar Taxpayer is about to be stabbed at the Forum.

You can tell the conspirators by the way they talk.

We received a letter from Senate President Thomas Birmingham. It began, "I am in receipt of your missive concerning the nature of the tax increases imposed in 1989 and 1990 . . ."

The letter was a response to one we wrote recently to the Senate president after he accused acting Gov. Paul Cellucci of "a profession of incompetence if he thinks it was temporary." Since we can’t allow our governor to be unfairly attacked on a tax issue, we asked Birmingham whether, in his opinion, anyone who believes anything the Legislature says is incompetent.

We also wondered if the Senate president was being Clintonesque with his statement that "it was not a temporary tax." Did he mean that "it wasn’t meant to be a temporary tax" or that "it wasn’t temporary because it will be repealed over my dead body?" We really wanted to know.

So Birmingham wrote back and told us. "I concede that early on in the tax-cut debate I stated that the tax increases ‘appeared’ to be temporary. . . . Since I have learned that your representations cannot be accepted at face value. I did legislative and media research on the issue. I discovered that, unlike 1989, the 1990 increase to 5.95 percent was neither touted as temporary nor written that way."

Well, we didn’t say it was. But the ‘90 increase was built on the 1989 increase from 5 percent to 5.75 percent that never would have happened had it not been sold by legislative leaders as temporary. If a thief "borrows" money from you one year, then steals some more in the next, he is still required to pay back the initial loan.

Birmingham ended his letter with this cryptic suggestion:

"Perhaps you could give a course on, ‘How to get an initiative petition on the ballot.’ After all, you have to make a living just like everybody else." Don’t change the subject, Tom.

"Tem—po—rar—y, adj. Lasting or meant to last for a limited time only, not permanent." What part of the dictionary definition does the Democrat leadership not understand? To be temporary, that which was changed must at some point be restored to its original form. That original form was the 5 percent rate that, even before the temporary increase, gave us one of the highest income tax burdens in the country. But Birmingham asked us not to be "tendentious." How’m I doing?

Meanwhile, over in the House, Speaker Thomas Finneran, Ways & Means Chairman Paul Haley and Taxation Committee Chairman Peter Larkin broke another tax agreement when they filed their so-called Taxpayer Relief Plan. They proposed an immediate but insultingly tiny cut in the "earned income" tax rate from 5.95 to 5.7 percent, a decent cut in the so-called "unearned income" tax rate from 12 percent to 5.7 percent, and a dependent exemption and deduction increase.

But backstabbers that they are, they increased the capital gains tax as part of the same package, even though it is still in the phase-down begun less than four years ago when the 55 percent legislative pay increase was on Gov. William Weld’s desk. You may recall that vote: As legislators waited to see whether he would sign their raise, they secretly turned a small tax cut for low-income people into a phase-out of the capital gains tax that the governor wanted, and soon everyone who doesn’t care about proper process was happy.

At the time, we warned the celebrating business community that the capital gains tax could just as impulsively be increased again once legislators felt secure with their higher paychecks. Who will help trusting investors get the knives from their backs now?

Republicans tried to remove the capital gains tax increase from the plan, but got only five Democratic votes from the Cassius-controlled House. Their effort to reduce the income-tax rate to 5 percent failed, too. Et tu, Brutus? Yes, the Senate won’t keep any promises either.

And there’s Caesar Taxpayer, the guy who saved the Empire during the state fiscal crisis, lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

That’s what he gets for trusting politicians.
Barbara Anderson is co-director of Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government. Her column appears bi-weekly (and is often syndicated).

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