Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Minnesota state legislator "creates" new economic model to justify vote for gas tax

Bloomington Republican state Representative Neil Peterson came out with an op/ed piece in the Star Tribune justifying his vote to override Governor Pawlenty's veto of the transportation gas tax increase. In doing so he's tried to reinvent economics to justify his vote and reinvent the idea that raising taxes is really a conservative position.

1) For instance, he said that the gas tax really isn't a tax -- it's a user fee.

A gas tax is a user fee, plain and simple, and for 20 years it has not been increased. This additional user fee will cost each of us less than a cup of coffee each month.

Not so. A user fee is a fee which a person pays to a use specific service like a toll road fee or bus or light rail ticket. Gasoline can be used for many things not involving use of roads or transit. When a company uses gas to run machines or heat a plant or I use gas to run my mower that has nothing to do with use of a road.

2) Then there is his argument that his vote for a tax increase was done to keep taxes down.
I supported the bill not because I believe in more taxation but because I believe in less.
That's absurd on it's face. If he believes in lower taxes, he shouldn't vote to increase them. He argues that cities and towns will raise their property tax to repair their streets if the state doesn't do it. If he truly believed in lower taxes he wouldn't have voted for one and he would have discouraged his city from raising property taxes. He would, instead, encourage them to reprioritize existing spending to address road problems.

3) Then he supports this tax increase because we have a slowing economy.
I supported the bill because we have a slowing economy in our state.
If one has a slowing economy raising taxes is not the answer. The private sector is much more efficient and effective in creating jobs than the government. Increasing taxes will only accentuate an economic slowdown.

4) Then he says it's good for the government to raise taxes to create more jobs.

People have suggested that an economic downturn is not the time for a bill like this. I believe it is the time. This bill will support thousands of jobs -- jobs with salary dollars that will stay in Minnesota.

Economically speaking, having government raise taxes to create more jobs is not the most efficient way to create jobs. The private sector is much more effective and efficient in creating jobs. Raising taxes makes it more difficult for businesses to create jobs.

5) Then there's the "remedy" for a slowing economy -- more jobs.

What is the remedy for a slowing economy? Jobs. We need these dollars in Minnesota. Our way of life here and our future depend on a strong economic base. We bemoan the loss of 900 jobs at Macy's downtown, but we are losing many times that number in our construction industry alone.
How will this tax increase keep more dollars in Minnesota? I guess it taxes individuals and businesses one last time before they relocate their business or residency in another state. Frankly, it does nothing to bring more dollars into the state.

6) Then he says he voted against inflationary increases in transportation.

With this bill, I voted against inflationary increases for transportation.

No, he voted to spend additional taxpayer money for transportation; his vote had nothing to do with controlling inflation.

Now, it's one thing to say, "Hey, I believe we should spend more money on roads and transit and I'm willing to raise taxes to do it. I realize it takes more money out of the family and individual budget but this is a higher priority." It's another to justify one's decision by turning economics and common sense on their head.

No comments: