Charlie Baker says he’s against middle-class tax hikes. But he’s against the absolute best method for preventing them: A progressive, graduated income tax.
You have to give Baker for being nimble. In the one moment of Tuesday night’s debate, Martha Coakley indicated that she wasn’t completely opposed to a graduated income tax — which would of course be a good idea and has been part of the BMG platform.
Charlie Baker responded by attacking Coakley — not on the merits of a progressive tax itself, but by changing the subject to middle class taxes, saying you can’t trust the Dems to only tax the wealthy. He cited — correctly, as far as it goes — the series of tax hikes in 2009 that fell mostly on the middle class. New revenue was necessary in order to prevent massive layoffs of teachers, cops, firefighters, social workers (hey, they’re in the news these days too) — and also to protect the state’s bond rating. A lower bond rating means the state gets a worse deal on credit — which hurts taxpayers. You may have noticed that other states that didn’t bite this bullet have suffered that exact fate.
This is how Baker’s 1% ideology rolls: If you want to tax the rich at a higher rate, they say the middle class is next. Meanwhile, because of that very resistance, the only possible avenue to avoid a fiscal catastrophe is to raise taxes regressively, as we’ve been doing. Baker’s rhetorical sleight-of-hand leads to higher taxes for the middle class — and much worse services.
If we had been able to raise taxes progressively in 2009, we could have raised the revenue to protect critical state services without dinging the middle class – the people who need that money for fundamental things, as opposed to a second house or a fancy car. And only people like, well, Charlie Baker would have noticed.
So Coakley’s comments were criticized by Barbara Anderson, which is unsurprising. More surprising is Mass. Taxpayers’ Michael Widmer, who supported the gas tax increase and the sales tax increase back in 2009!
“If you’re trying to create jobs it doesn’t make sense to give opened-ended authority to the legislature to raise taxes on higher income individuals,” said Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer.
Widmer and MTF have been longtime opponents of the graduated income tax system.
Widmer told the Tax Fairness Commission in February that any change to the state’s income tax structure that would tax high income individuals at a higher rate would be hurt the state’s economy.
“Amending the state’s constitution and adding to the tax burden of middle and higher income taxpayers, including businesses that pay personal income taxes, would pose one more disincentive to job creation in the state,” said Widmer while testifying before the commission.
So to be clear: Widmer thinks that middle-class people who struggle to pay the bills from month-to-month should have higher taxes, but the rich should go unscathed. That’s the takeaway from his stated positions. No thank you. Good day sir.
And a progressive income tax structure costs the state jobs? As opposed to what we’ve been doing in a pinch? Oh please do show your work, Mr. Widmer. I’d love to see that research.