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Huckabee has a tax-raising solution

As I See It

April 15th is almost upon us, and most folks — depending on their financial condition — have plenty of taxing questions on their minds: How much will I owe the IRS? How much will my refund be? Where’s that receipt? Is this deductible?

And on it goes. Plenty of questions, not as many answers. Perhaps the most important question is: Does the government really need all of this money?

The government would say, “Yes, don’t you like all of those services we provide?” Taxpayers, of course, often have a different take.

The issue has been debated in Mississippi in recent weeks as our legislators struggle with state coffers not as full of tax dollars as they’d planned. The idea of raising taxes has been brought up as a possible solution to Mississippi’s latest fiscal crisis, but is that what most of us want?

Our neighbor to the west, Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, has a novel idea for raising more taxes. He’s inviting taxpayers who want to pay more to do so. He has set up the Tax Me More Fund to give voters who think they are not taxed enough the chance to send more money to the state.

The procedure is simple: the governor distributes pre-addressed envelopes for the Tax Me More Fund. You write a check, if you think that the State of Arkansas isn’t collecting enough money from you, and mail it in. Thus far, the state has received $260.

Though liberals and some in the media wish that Huckabee would go away, he is currently enjoying a 70% approval rating and is considered a shoo-in for a second term. Out on the campaign trail, the governor is cheered whenever the subject of raising taxes comes up. He pulls out a handful of the envelopes and asks who in the audience would like to send in more tax money.

Needless to say, the governor’s political opponents have attacked him and his Tax Me More Fund. Some have called him a clown and others criticized him for lack of a serious solution in dealing with Arkansas’ budget problems. But the voters seem to disagree with his detractors.

On the subject of taxes, the governor had this to say, “My feeling is everyone in Arkansas is having to adjust to the downturn in the economy and every business is doing the same. Asking Arkansas to cough up more money during a recession is like asking a bleeding hemophiliac to donate a pint of blood to the Red Cross.”

Like most states, Arkansas has seen its tax revenues fall during the current economic slump. The state is facing a $140-million deficit this year, equal to about 4% of the state’s budget.

Is there a lesson here for other politicians? If people want their taxes raised, why is the governor having such poor results with his fund? If people don’t want their taxes raised, why do politicians always stand ready to do it?

According to Huckabee, “What it (the fund) does is expose the hypocrisy of the liberals because they want to raise taxes as long as someone else has to pay for them. Our state law does not prohibit someone from paying more. So if they believe it would make them feel better to contribute more, then I want them to write as generous a check as they can to make themselves feel good.”

A word to the wise may be useful.

Gov. Huckabee’s political success with his tax fund has not gone unnoticed among campaign strategists elsewhere. Some are already thinking that his program could be successfully duplicated in other states.

Stephen Moore, president of the Club for Growth, a group which supports candidates who favor tax cuts, says, “I think he has come up with a kind of clever ploy that has the liberals sputtering. There is going to be increasing muttering about raising taxes in next year’s campaigns, and this type of approach by Huckabee might be a good way to stop the liberals in their tracks.”

So, is the answer more taxes or less government?

It seems that the taxpayers in Arkansas are in agreement that the solution is for government to tighten its belt during tough times just like taxpayers do. Do Mississippi taxpayers feel the same? I’ll bet a nickel they do and any politician who is brazen enough to mention the “t” word is going to find out.

Aside

More things you can do with a newspaper, courtesy of the Mississippi Press Association:

1. Start a fire with it

2. Make a collage

3. Make a fan

4. Spank your dog

5. Make confetti

6. Insulate water pipes in winter

7. Swat flies

8. Make patterns for sewing

9. Feed a goat

10. Make yourself look important by carrying it.

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. Contact him at cpajones@msbusiness.com.

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