The Tax Contrast

It is interesting how conservatives and progressives are switching roles lately. In Montana, progressive Gov. Brian Schweitzer has said he will do everything he can to prevent tax increases because he believes he can manage the state more efficiently. Part of that management strategy involves his announcement yesterday of a comprehensive plan to aggressively go after tax cheats, and close abusive tax loopholes. As Schweitzer said, “Montana’s hardworking and law-abiding citizens do not deserve to be ripped off by high net worth individuals and multistate corporations who aren’t playing by the rules.”

In Indiana, on the other hand, a conservative governor is doing exactly the opposite. Gov. Mitch Daniels (R.), formerly President Bush’s budget director, is pushing a 29 percent income tax increase on his state’s residents. Worse, he’s raising taxes at the same time he’s also pushing a “tax amnesty” (read: tax cheaters bill of rights) through the legislature. According to the Indianapolis Star, Daniels’ bill “waives unpaid interest, penalties and fees” from those who owe back taxes or who are cheating on their taxes.

Notice the contrast between progressives and conservatives on these issues. Schweitzer says, “The long-term consequences of abusive tax shelters could be severely detrimental to Montana’s economy” — correctly pointing out that illegal behavior harms the free market system and gives unfair advantages to scofflaws.

Conservatives, on the other hand, actually trumpet their bill to reward cheating as good for the economy. State Rep. Bill Davis, who is shepherding Daniels’ proposal through the legislature, told the Muncie Star Press that Daniels’ tax cheaters bill of rights “is just one example of creative measures that House Republicans are using to bolster the economy.”

Good days for progressives on tax issues…. Strange days for “law and order,” “tax cutting” conservatives…