Taxes, Priorities

I’ve just filled out my California ballot, and find myself feeling like a Republican. Kind of.

The ballot included two proposals for public works projects, each of which requires additional property taxes to fund the proposal. The increments are small (about $70 a year in additional taxes for the average homeowner). It would have had no impact on me — I’m a renter.

But filling out the ballot, I instinctively understood why most American’s are drawn to the Republicans’ pitch that they won’t raise taxes, and that in fact they’ll slash them. Not an election goes by where, at the state and local levels, we’re asked to fund something. It gets tiresome.

If i could be the top strategist for the Democrats for a day, I’d do the following: declare agreement with the Republicans that taxes shouldn’t be raised and agree to a moratorium on new taxes, barring real, serious national emergencies. I’d then ask the American people to join in some sacrifices, and to engage in a discussion about our national priorities. What we can afford. What we can’t.

For thirty years, the conventional wisdom has been that voters are not receptive to this kind of pitch. If they make peace on taxes, I think the Democrats would find that most voters are in the mood for exactly this kind of discussion.

For the record, I voted no on both of the proposals.