COLUMBIA — This is about taxes, the one topic we all love to hate and a pivotal point for both political parties this election season.
On the right of the fence, to quote George H.W. Bush, “no new taxes;” period, end of story.
The left is taking the “fewer taxes for most but larger taxes or new taxes for a few” approach.
Both sides are trying to balance state and federal budgets from different directions.
This is also about Get Out the Vote efforts in mid-Missouri. Until Oct. 8, Republicans and Democrats, the religious right, the National Atheist Party and every special interest group will work so everyone is registered to vote and then get off their easy chairs Nov. 6 to mark their ballots.
The argument concerning the GOP’s and Democrats’ proposed tax plans comes down to money in your pocket and health care.
This is an excellent example of “parental politics.” The GOP is your dad wanting to you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. The Democratic Party is your mom wanting to give you a hand when you need it.
There are few unbiased views of Mr. Romney’s and Mr. Obama’s opposing tax plans. Most, liberal and conservative, seem to agree on one thing, neither plan will reduce the national deficit.
Erskine Bowles, co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, said, “our broken tax code will give away more in loopholes — $1.3 trillion — than it collects in income taxes. That’s nuts. …”
The real magician is Grover G. Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform, which reincarnated American’s love-to-hate-taxes movement by creating the Taxpayer Protection Pledge: “Candidates and incumbents solemnly bind themselves to oppose any and all tax increases.”
What does this tax talk have to do with Missouri? It has to do with the educational health of Missouri and individual health of her citizens.
On Nov. 6, Missourians will be asked to vote on a new cigarette tax known as Proposition B, which will aid the state’s K-12 and higher education and improve health care statewide. Its purpose is simple. By creating a Health and Education Trust Fund and increasing cigarette taxes to 90 cents per pack (far less than the $1.49 per pack national average), education funding will be saved and health care expanded.
There will be the usual responses from my favorite pro-smoking antagonists, but individual states can tax cigarettes and direct the funds to education and health. Yes, this tax is targeted, but your smoke is killing yourself and others.
State Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, told me that there are two other benefits. It will create a partnership between the two hospitals in Springfield and the MU School of Medicine, which means more jobs created and more doctors for rural Missouri.
Although the joint resolution was a true bipartisan vote, Norquist and the Americans for Tax Reform have a strong following among Missouri voters. Fortunately, the same is not true within the Missouri legislature. This is where Get Out the Vote movement comes into play.
Political buddy and MU grad Brian Bough told me that it is a myth that Democrats will “just” come out to vote. In fact, the GOP, Libertarians and tea party have done a much better job of getting their constituents out to vote. (Think the August “Right to Pray” Amendment.) And the three are in Norquist’s hip pocket.
Rep. Kelly wants to change this. He is looking for volunteers to help create a Get Out the Vote list of unregistered voters who support this tax and then follow up with telephone calls.
Missouri’s budget has taken some rough cuts over the past three years with education and health programs taking the blunt of the blow.
If the idea of healthy Missourians, proper funding of our public K-12 and university systems, more doctors in rural Missouri and creating jobs in the Show-Me State excites you, contact Rep. Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him you will help.
After all, the only thing you “solemnly promised” is to “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. ...” That includes health and education.