Favorite

The Republican future in Arkansas 

The Arkansas Republican Party adopted a campaign platform Saturday, mostly a list of things it opposes or fears — abortion, gays, immigrants, universal health care, sex education, egalitarian public schools.

Then there's taxes. The original platform plank:

"Replace the state income tax with a more equitable method such as increasing the state sales tax. Everyone would pay the same percentage and would know they are paying their fair share for the government services available to all citizens. The maximum increase in state sales tax would be limited to no more than 2 percent."

Though edited to avoid the damaging sales tax alternative, it's still voodoo economics. Slashing the income tax would be nothing but a windfall to the rich.

In the year ended June 30, the individual income tax produced $2.9 billion and the corporate income tax produced $435 million. (Yes. The people bear far more of the income tax burden. Republicans say Arkansas is unfriendly to business, though it favors business in tax filing gimmickry, assesses no estate tax and gives away untold sums in corporate welfare.)

So, eliminate $3.3 billion in income taxes. Simple arithmetic shows why they decided to not talk specifically about using sales tax as a makeup. The existing sales tax — 6 percent on most purchases, 1.5 percent on groceries and 2.75 percent on manufacturers' utilities (another one of those business-friendly Arkansas tax features) — produced about $2.1 billion last year. To raise an additional $3.3 billion would mean a 150 percent increase in the existing rate, to 15 percent on blue jeans, cars and refrigerators; 3.75 percent on groceries and almost 6 percent on manufacturers' utilities.

In the original version, Republicans would have held the sales tax increase to 2 percentage points, not even a fourth of what's required to maintain current revenues. That means a budget cut of more than $2 billion annually.

Kansas is about to live the dream. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and the Republican legislature slashed the income tax and eliminated many deductions. A non-partisan analysis says Kansas is going to have to reduce spending by $4.5 billion over the next five years to pay for this soak-the-poor tax cut. Brownback insists Kansas will come out ahead as a job creators' paradise. But skeptics say this would require more than a half-million new jobs. It's folly.

Republicans want to slash government spending. If they win a legislative majority in November, they'll start with medical care for children, pregnant moms, the elderly and the working poor. State employee pensions will soon follow. Until the Republicans can get better judges in place, the constitution might preserve education spending at the grade school level, but college students can expect whopping tuition increases. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who fired up the Arkansas Republican platform conferees last weekend, is currently presiding over the mortal wounding of the LSU health system in the name of Tea Party-style governance. Think UAMS.

Voters might think they want this. Wait until grandma gets kicked out of her nursing home and college becomes an unaffordable luxury.

Arkansas's graduated income tax was a model when it was adopted in the 1970s. But inflation obliterated the differences in the income brackets and the current top bracket of $32,600 isn't high income. The solution is to widen the brackets and add a higher step at the top, but that's not going to happen, no matter which party controls the legislature.

In today's climate, Mike Beebe-style status quoism passes for a brave progressive agenda. With a mere 51 percent vote necessary to override a veto, he might as well head for the golf course if the reactionary Republicans do take control in November.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Bangin' in LR

    About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Power Ultra Lounge downtown jammed for a rap show by Finese2Tymes (Ricky Hampton of Memphis), gunfire broke out. Before it was over, 25 people had been wounded by gunfire and three others injured in the rush for safety.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.
  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Another Jesus

    • IBS, were you there in Benghazi to personally witness all of Hillary's blunders like you…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • If God felt it necessary to replace the ten commandments, he could do it like…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Football for UA Little Rock

    • He's BSC. Students and tuition-paying parents should be VERY vocal that a football program won't…

    • on July 23, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation