Here’s How You Should Pass These Taxes We Don’t Want


I will try to stop you from doing what you want to do. But first let me tell you how to do what you want to do.

That may sound strange, but it's the peculiar political narrative in California these days.

Republicans hate taxes and will oppose any attempt to raise taxes, even if just in conversation. But they also keep giving public advice to Democrats about how to pass the taxes.

My friend Joel Fox, a writer who is former president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. and leads the Fox & Hounds web site, is among the leading of practitioners of this "here's how to do the thing you shouldn't do" style of counsel. The state needs budget reform via spending limit, before Democrats should move forward with tax increases he'd oppose. [UPDATE, 7/11: Joel Fox writes to note that he's not always opposed to taxes, since he publicly supported a temporary tax tied to a rainy day/fund spending limit in Prop 1A in the 2009 special election. A link to his argument on that front appears below in the comments]

The subject where Republicans really pull this rhetoric trick is on pensions. They are constantly declaring that voters won't support tax increases without pension reform first. To be sure, some Democrats are saying this too -- but those Democrats presumably want taxes to pass.

Republicans may be right in this political advice. They may be wrong. But it's the kind of advice that parents -- bad parents -- give their kids. If you're going to do the wrong thing, kid, here's how to do it.

Does that make the GOP California's bad mother?

Lead Prop Zero blogger Joe Mathews is California editor at Zocalo Public Square, a fellow at Arizona State University’s Center for Social Cohesion, and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (University of California, 2010).

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