Not that I expect the IRS to seize upon the Louisiana Governor's mansion any time soon. Nor do I think any prosecutor will be serving the Governor with legal papers because i feel extorted (if they were to do so, they'd have better luck finding him in some Iowa hotel).
But, deep down, it sure feels like a falsehood being perpetrated upon Louisiana citizens and me--not necessarily, to avoid paying taxes per se, but to avoid paying the political piper--the very truth that Louisiana and Governor Jindal are raising taxes to fund higher education, healthcare and other necessary governmental services.
By now we’re all familiar with the so-called SAVE legislation that is supposed to assess a fee to Louisiana state university and college students, who don’t pay it nor receive the tax credit triggered by the fee. Nonetheless, Jindal wants to assess the false fee which begins the equally pretend-tax credit. The fake tax credit would be assigned to the Louisiana Board of Regents, who would then fund our colleges and universities from money actually raised in tax increases, not by any fee.
The taxes are real. The actual fee and tax credits are not, but are on fantasy-land paper only. And, it all makes sense in the land of Norquist since he claims fees are not taxes, thus, Jindal can create a fee and tax credit and pretend the combo is funding higher education.
And, we want our future MBA'ers, accountants, lawyers, doctors, priests who are being assessed this fantasy fee to trust government?
And, of course, the state, for the sole purpose of allegedly creating a so-called "revenue neutral budget" blessed by Washington DC Norquist, would be creating a pass-through so Jindal can prance around America on Louisiana's dime, again pretending he has never violated his Norquist's generated "no-tax-increase" pledge.
It gets even worse. Jindal’s own budgetary malpractice of cutting taxes and doling out tax dollars, has led Louisiana into the worse government fiscal crisis in our lifetimes. As a result, to remain in good stead with Norquist, he is threatening to veto tax measures or even the entire budget unless he gets his way with the bogus SAVE tax credit.
Some brave republican legislators led by House Ways and Means Chairman Joel Robideaux, questioned the lordship with a Sunday night faxed-dispatch, looking for answers and solutions.
Norquist responded to the letter by these concerned members of the House of Representatives. His retort, unfortunately, not only bullied and insulted the letters' drafters, but, somehow, he failed to respond to their most important point being raised.
And what are those very concerns? Look at what the letter drafters said to Norquist—
"We are deeply concerned about the clear and present danger posed by this bill. As conservative Republican legislators, we firmly believeSB 284 is the biggest threat to fiscal responsibility our state has ever faced...
"If enacted into law, this bill would successfully and irreparably establish the precedent that future legislatures and Governors can raise taxes on a nearly unlimited basis, and then claim revenue neutrality solely based on the creation of a purely fictional, procedural, phantom, paper tax credit".
And what did Norquist respond to counter Robideaux’s concern?
Did he say they were wrong? Did he say they had no reason to be concerned? Did he explain, in any detail, why future elected officials would not be able to use this same “clever” trick to fool the public while raising future taxes? Did he say anything at all? No. Nothing.
Instead he slapped at the easy target and conveniently criticized President Obama who is not even a party to these discussions. He then said he does not favor the SAVE or any other “revenue-neutral” approach over one another. He offered other possible solutions such as cutting expenses, when in reality means, cutting healthcare for others and education for our kids. He also offered ways to cut legitimate taxes, but, which in reality, many believe would worsen the problem for this and for future years (and future administrations).
The SAVE legislation has frequently been called a gimmick, a guise, a trick by liberal and conservative lawmakers alike.
I can't help feeling it's a tax scheme fraud-- upon the people of Louisiana and upon future American voters.
The truth is Jindal is being forced to raise taxes, more taxes than any other governor has raised in a single year in modern times. Let me say it again. He got Louisiana into this hole, knows the political preference in this very conservative state is to raise taxes and to make cuts, and is willing to raise those taxes and to make cuts, as long as he can find a scheme to be blessed by Saint Norquist.
Then, starting June 24 of this year, he will parade around the nation officially running for president and claim he has never raised a single tax. His friends in the media and others would then repeat his false claim. It would be one thing if the budget was really revenue neutral by legitimate budgeting mechanisms. But, to utilize a fictional tax credit so that he can take credit for being a tax cutter?
Smells like a tax-scheme fraud to me.
It sadly also feels like we're being slapped with a veto-extortion.
Don't mean to get legal on anybody, but, decided to take a look.
Louisiana law states:
RS14: 66. Extortion
Extortion is the communication of threats to another with the intention thereby to obtain anything of value or any acquittance, advantage, or immunity of any description. The following kinds of threats shall be sufficient to constitute extortion:
(1) A threat to do any unlawful injury to the person or property of the individual threatened or of any member of his family or of any other person held dear to him;
(2) A threat to accuse the individual threatened or any member of his family or any other person held dear to him of any crime;
(3) A threat to expose or impute any deformity or disgrace to the individual threatened or to any member of his family or to any other person held dear to him;
(4) A threat to expose any secret affecting the individual threatened or any member of his family or any other person held dear to him;
(5) A threat to do any other harm.
Jindal is threatening to veto all or part of the budget--if it raises taxes in a way that is not offset by, in this case, a invisible tax credit so the budget is revenue neutral.
No doubt, Jindal clearly has the legal right to veto a budget that he believes would not be in the best interest of the state. However, to me, what he is doing is essentially saying—“you must follow my definition that I am accepting for my presidential run and if you don’t, I will punish you with a veto which will cause horific damage upon our higher ed and healthcare institutions and the people depending upon them. Therefore, you must accept this fictional tax credit scheme. "
It would be one thing if Jindal was doing this because he really does not believe in raising taxes and therefore, he would refuse any tax increase and would just cut instead. Likewise, It would be different if he were to use a real tax credit to offset a real tax increase. But to threaten the legislature, and the people of Louisiana, that they must use his tax credit that does not exist, but created, not for the benefit of the state, but for his own personal gain, or else, he will close schools and hospitals--if that is not extortion, it should be.
Lawmakers are empowered to do what is right for the people they govern. They are not vested with this power to create a scheme that has no purpose whatsoever but to SAVE themselves from the wrath of their political dictators.
It's a crying shame that the very man who entered the very stage of Louisiana government denouncing former Louisiana leaders for their putting themselves first, would be doing the greatest harm to Louisiana for the most selfish purpose, of them all.
A real crying shame.
BELOW: LETTER TO GROVER NORQUIST AND HIS RESPONSE
Grover Norquist response to Rep. Joel Robideaux and ten other republican members of the House of Representatives
Dear Representative Robideaux,
Thank you for the letter you sent Sunday night by fax to Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). You suggest that politicians should take credit for tax cuts passed by previous legislatures. That would allow tax and spending politicians to hike taxes every time they come into office following a tax cut or series of tax cuts. Under that logic, President Obama could argue he didn’t raise taxes.
As I noted in a letter sent to you and your colleagues at the beginning of session, your constituents have already been hit with more than 20 federal tax increases signed into law by President Obama in recent years. Piling on with a net tax increase at the state level will only do more damage to hardworking Louisiana taxpayers.
As you know, Louisiana is not undertaxed. The problem is that some want to spend more than the current tax code collects. You ask about the SAVE Act. ATR does not support or oppose the SAVE Act. While the SAVE Act does include a credit that can be used to offset other tax increases, there are other ways to achieve revenue neutrality, such as by repealing the corporate franchise tax and/or cutting the state income tax. If you don’t like the SAVE Act, why not find other offsetting tax cuts that are more to your liking? ATR is agnostic as to whether a credit or deduction is good policy. We merely call balls and strikes regarding whether a change in tax law results in a net tax increase.
Any change in the tax code that increases the net tax burden is a tax hike. Raising the income tax or sales tax rate, and making no other changes, is a tax hike. Eliminating tax credits or deductions without an offsetting overall rate reduction or tax relief elsewhere is a net tax increase. The Obama administration has argued that removing tax provisions that reduce the tax burden for energy industry employers is not a tax increase. It clearly is. However, removing tax credits or deductions while reducing the tax rate so that the total bill is revenue neutral is not a tax hike.
The government of Louisiana has been overspending for decades and has grown much faster than the rate of inflation and population growth. Fixing that is key to right-sizing state government. While much progress has been made in recent years, it’s clear there is much work left to do. Members of the Louisiana House of Representatives couldn’t even find the political will this year to pass legislation that would end the use of taxpayer resources for the collection of government union dues. The fact that such a commonsense reform couldn’t get done is disconcerting.
As occurs in states across the country, ATR is more than willing to work with lawmakers in Louisiana to help find ways to reform government so that spending is at a sustainable level and tax increases can be avoided.
Grover G. Norquist