I meant to get to this yesterday and now the NYT editorial board beat me to it. It’s an inspiring story about a type of political courage you see way too little of these days: a governor in a red state fighting against a harmful, regressive tax cut…and maybe even winning the fight!
Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri, facing a dark red legislature, vetoed the $700 million/year tax cut based on the damage it would do to key state services that are already strapped (e.g., aid to public universities in the state has already been cut by 27%).
But over the summer, Mr. Nixon has turned the debate away from the Republican argument that lower taxes bring jobs and recast the tax cut as one that would hurt education and mental health services. The state’s school boards have rallied to his side. More than 100 of them have passed resolutions supporting the veto. And with a veto session set to begin on Wednesday, it is the supporters of the tax cut who are now pessimistic.
Now, a few contextual facts to consider. We just learned the income inequality climbed again in 2012; the top 10% of households now hold 50.4% of all market income, the highest concentration share in the history of this data series which begins in 1917. We are also learning more about how inequality at this magnitude creates mobility barriers, most importantly, access to…wait for it…decent educational opportunities.
Those dynamics are worth considering when we’re faced with conservatives in MO pushing a policy that will worsen inequality while diminishing the public educational system’s ability to offset the damage.
And just for completeness sake, note the underlying bunk of the state version of the supply-side, trickle down tax cut argument:
Cutting taxes and spending at a time of weak economic recovery is a losing strategy. The states with the biggest tax cuts in the 1990s grew jobs at one-third the rate of other states and had slower income growth. Missouri now has a chance to reverse this trend by sustaining Mr. Nixon’s veto, and other states should hear its message.
Not all state political developments today are so inspiring today. But this one may turn out to be a great example of something you don’t see enough of these days: truth whooping power.