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Ray Haynes

Lumber Tax II, Anatomy of a Bad Deal

“Never amend a bad bill.” Wise words.

Let me start with this simple premise. A tax increase is a tax increase is a tax increase. No matter what excuse is used to clothe it, no matter how big or how small. When Democrats start negotiating with Republicans about voting for a tax increase, it is sort of like the guy who sat down next to a woman at a bar and asked if she would accompany him to the motel across the street if he paid her a million dollars. When she said yes, the man said how about it I paid you $50? She looked at him shocked and said “What do you think I am?” The man says, “We’ve already established what you are, now we are just negotiating the price.”

Once Republicans negotiate on tax increases, they have already established what they are, they are now simply negotiating the price.

And that is exactly what is happening on the lumber tax bill, a bill I talked about last week, right now. An industry sponsored amendment, designed to make the bill “more business friendly” makes some regulatory changes, and reduces the tax by half, but keeps a tax on consumers of lumber products in the bill. In other words, the timber industry gets a break and you and I foot the bill. The timber industry claims is necessary because most of California’s lumber products come from states where the regulatory environment is not so stringent, and so a tax on their products in California makes California timber products more competitive.

Business wonders why voters don’t like them? This is why. Voters know business will sell the people out to get a benefit for themselves. The people be damned.

If Republicans join this mindset, by voting for this tax increase, they will come to enjoy the irrelevancy they would so richly deserve. The only selling point Republicans in California have today is that only Republicans stand between Democrats and higher taxes. Sell out on one tax, no matter what for, no matter how small, no matter who supports it and why, and that argument goes out the window. It will be “katy bar the door.” Every half baked liberal idea will come with a tax increase attached on consumers, and the argument will be “You supported the timber industry for their tax, why won’t you support ours? Is it because you don’t like [children][women][teachers][insert other mom and apple pie group here]?” It really would be a case of “we’ve already established what you are [in this case, tax increasers] we are only negotiating the price.” Voters would have no reason to support Republicans, at all.

First rule of Legislation. You can’t make bad bill better by getting a few concessions, but leaving the philosophy of the bill intact. Second rule, Republicans oppose tax increases, because there is always a good reason for bigger government, and once you concede that point in one area, you are simply opening the door every other area. As I said before, the business community cannot be trusted to fight big government, and the socialist tendencies of the Democrats. Only Republicans can be trusted to stand up against those intrusions on economic freedom, specifically the tendency to raise taxes. Capitulate on that, and Republicans might as well just hand Sacramento over to the Democrats, and let them destroy it. Voters would rightly turn Republicans out of any position of decision making in Sacramento, because their decisions could not be trusted.

I don’t want Democrats to control everything to be sure, but Republicans deserve absolutely no place at the table in any decision making capacity, if they cannot protect people from higher taxes. Sorry if that offends anyone, but it is the truth.