Last week, I attended an event that had, among others, Lt. Governor Diane Denish as a speaker. To the delight of myself and the small business audience in attendance, the Lt Governor said, and I paraphrase, “Now is not the time to raise taxes. It is time for the government to do what the private sector has been forced to do and control spending.”
Now considering that Lt. Governor Denish is usually considerably to the left of me, and that her campaign for Governor is well-funded, it can only be concluded that her internal polling is telling her that supporting tax increase, any tax increases, right now would be the equivalent to political suicide.
And, herein lies the problem…
More details on tax hikes and spending cuts in a new state budget plan emerged Sunday as New Mexico lawmakers prepared to return to the Capitol today for a special session on the budget.
The plan, hammered out behind closed doors by top-ranking House and Senate Democrats, would increase the state’s gross receipts tax, raise the tax on cigarettes and have New Mexico cities reinstate a portion of the gross receipts tax on food items that was repealed six years ago.
Yup, leave it to the Democrats to propose a slew of new taxes as families are struggling to survive. If these tax increases are passed, they are going to hurt campaign efforts of every Democrat running for office during this election cycle. Mind you, that’s not something that’s particularly upsetting to me, but for a strategic standpoint its interesting to watch how this is playing out.
As a limited government guy, I wouldn’t mind seeing some taxes cut for a variety of reasons I’ve outlined over the years. But, in the current economy, I would be willing to settle for no new taxes. The Democrats seem to be operating as though it is business as usual (i.e. let’s find another incremental tax to pass). But, there is nothing usual about the situation in which we all find ourselves.
Right now, Lt. Governor Denish is trying to emerge from Governor Richardson’s shadow and define herself as a leader in her own right. Of course, taking a stand against new taxes when her Democratic colleagues are pushing for them is setting her up to appear either:
a) Lacking in leadership and the ability to influence policy.
b) Saying what the people want to hear in public and privately supporting the taxation of the masses.
Either way, New Mexico Democrats, from the Lt. Governor on down, have a big problem.