When politics are broken: taxes

The story is a common one: Democrats want to end tax breaks, Republicans say no. What’s interesting is this little stipulation regarding laws that increase taxes in the state of Washington.

Conventional wisdom has held that there’s no way a bill like this can make it through the Legislature given Tim Eyman’s Initiative I-1053, which requires a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate or voter approval to increase taxes.

Okay, the “Initiative I-1053”, you say? Well let’s read up on ol’ Initiative 1053[PDF] and see what it says about these things. It’s a fairly simple bill, only seven pages with a giant font, but yes the take-home is that any bills that raise taxes require a supermajority.

Problem: this isn’t “raising taxes”, it’s eliminating a tax break. What this means is we now have a one-way street for people who just love to hand out tax breaks for no good goddamn reason. Let’s say you’ve got a supremely narrow Republican majority. You pass a completely outrageous tax cut for the wealthy that wrecks the budget. The next election, the voters hand the legislature over to the Democrats, only the tax break can’t be repealed because they now need a 2/3 majority.

If this measure gets stuck by I-1053, it’s going to just prove how easily government can be manipulated and how broken the system is.

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