Part four of my series talks about something that, according to Benjamin Franklin, is as certain as death, and that’s taxation. As regular readers know, my current favorite tax policy (well, besides the unrealistic one of keeping every last dime I make) is the FairTax. But most First Congressional District candidates have views that I like to a certain extent. You’ll note that no Democrat candidate makes public his position on taxation – they’re probably attempting to lay low on the subject as their party’s standardbearer in Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley, is busy attempting to raise all of our taxes in a special session.
This time out I’ll begin with Joe Arminio. While he doesn’t discuss taxation on his website, in his book The Decline and Fall of the American Way Arminio notes:
…this would be a good time to adjust the tax burden, increasing taxes on the very rich and on corporations. A disproportionate increase in taxes at the very top is only fair…
…(t)here is a crying need to scale back regulations, including to simplify the tax code.
Wayne Gilchrest notes on his website that:
Wayne’s work on reducing and reforming federal income taxes has won him awards from taxpayer watchdog groups including the “Hero of the Taxpayer Award” from Americans for Tax Reform for 5 consecutive years. Wayne has voted to reduce federal taxes and simplify and reform the tax code, making sure Americans keep more of their hard-earned income, and making sure the American economy stays strong.
In looking at his voting record over the last several years, Wayne has generally voted in favor of the taxpayer although he did support the PAYGO rules (any tax cuts must be offset by either a different tax increase or spending cut) in this Congressional term.
Andy Harris talks about his tax ideas here.
I can also link to the thoughts of John Leo Walter on the subject.
None of the candidates wanted to take the bold steps of scrapping the tax code, adopting the FairTax, and most importantly repealing the Sixteenth Amendment. Thus, I can tell you that no one will pick up all 21 points on the subject, but most of my foursome score a few points. It’s not that bad because no Presidential candidate exceeded 14 and most were in the single digits.
The only exception to that rule is Joe Arminio, for two reasons. First of all, I believe in a fair, non-progressive tax system because I do not begrudge what wealthy people make and I don’t feel they should be penalized tax-wise for making a lot of money. Soaking the rich and class envy do not play here. Secondly, as Maryland will likely find out in the coming months, all an increase in corporate taxes will do is drive up retail prices, which ironically would act as a boost to sales tax receipts except for the fact that people will have less to spend. All that said, I’m going to take an unusual step against a Republican and deduct points from Arminio, a total of 10.
Wayne Gilchrest talks a good game on taxes, but he’s trended in the wrong direction as time goes on. While he speaks about the awards from ATR (Americans for Tax Reform), quite honestly he barely meets the 85% rating criteria for the award most years. Yes, it’s certainly commendable and beats almost any Democrat out there, but it’s not as outstanding as he makes it appear. To be fair, his record overall is good so I’ll give him 5 points.
Andy Harris quite simply states that he “will oppose all new taxes and all increases in taxes.” That’s fine; however, I’d like more on eliminating some of the regulations that snarl all of us. Also, a blanket statement raises an opportunity for a Democrat-sprung trap. If you recall, the minimum wage was increased because the Democrats attached it to an Iraqi funding bill, not as a stand-alone measure. I can see a tax increase slipped into some bill along the line just to trick Harris into voting for it – a “gotcha” moment. He has done well in Maryland as a fiscal hawk, however, so I’ll award him 6 points.
Finally, we come to John Leo Walter, who to his credit said the most about the subject. Again though, Walter tends to tinker around the edges of the system we have now instead of championing real reform. Cuts in the capital gain tax rate, on taxing dividends, and working on the marriage penalty are all sound ideas, but to me they’re akin to lipstick on a pig. I think he deserves the same 4 points I gave to Presidential candidate Duncan Hunter who also “tweaked around the edges.”
So it’s unfortunate that no one really grabbed the bull by the horns on what I saw as a real “red meat” issue, particularly in the climate we have at the moment because of the O’Malley special session. Be that as it may, I still need to add them up and they rank as follows:
- Andy Harris, 29.5 points
- John Leo Walter, 25 points
- Joe Arminio, 1 point
- Wayne Gilchrest, -18 points
At least Gilchrest moved past the “better” Democrat in the race, as (to review) Frank Kratovil was at -19 and Christopher Robinson was at -37.5.
On Thursday I shift gears and discuss the candidates’ stances on the role of government.