Do not raise the county’s sales tax rate, gentlemen.Emphasis added to that last paragraph because if the editorial board of the Middletown Journal understands this, it is no longer acceptable for elected Republicans "in good standing" not to grasp this very simple concept.
Let’s deal with the obvious first. This is a horrible time to raise taxes on families and businesses.
Critics often observe that a sales tax is a heavier burden for fixed-, middle- and low-income families because it consumes a greater percentage of their income; and more and more families already are being pushed into poverty because of high unemployment rates. A sales tax may seem like a painless way to hike taxes, but those pennies add up over time.
And pennies that go toward a higher sales tax add up to dollars that then cannot be spent in the private sector, thus stifling spending and hurting businesses. You get the picture.
Perhaps most ironic and hard to swallow is that — at a time when national Republicans are pillorying President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders over anticipated tax increases — local Republicans would consider raising taxes because they apparently lack the will or desire to reduce the size of county government. These Republicans must have forgotten the mantra of conservative icon Ronald Reagan — that lower taxes and smaller government should result in economic prosperity. Where is the outraged Tea Party crowd?
We believe commissioners when they say they do not wish to raise the tax rate. As members of the political party that loudly espouses fiscal conservatism and limited government, they would be considered hypocrites — especially in the midst of this painful recession. And the threat of a referendum always is present, potentially taking away the anticipated revenue and putting commissioners back at square one.
Officeholders across Butler County government should demonstrate that they understand the Republican philosophy of government and exercise the kind of fiscal discipline that most families have already been forced to employ during this difficult recession. Increasing taxes is the easy action to take; instead, county officeholders must learn to live within a budget. If they cannot, we have to question the local Republican Party’s commitment to their own stated convictions. Everyone else should, too.
This is the struggle that our county -- and our party -- faces. Those of us on Central and Executive Committee have been shirking our collective responsibility in providing the electorate with solid candidates what believe in limited and smaller government. It simply can not be enough to point at the scoreboard anymore, we have to start advancing an agenda of fiscal discipline and that starts with reducing the size and scope of government right here in our own communities.
When times are good and we can afford the luxuries, I say go for it. But we must always put an eye to the future and save for rainy days like these have become. That means we have to cut back. That means we have to start questioning ALL of the spending that has been going on in this county. Quite frankly, our elected officials have let us down. It is time to remind them that their job is to serve us. They hold their jobs at the pleasure of We, the People.