The proposed sales tax on commercial transactions conducted through this newfangled internet machine is not a matter of personal interest. Being old-fashioned sorts we prefer to handle the merchandise in some brick-and-mortar establishment and then make our infrequent purchases face-to-face with a friendly clerk, which also provides a much-needed reason to get out of the house, so the tax would have little affect on our finances.
Nor does the proposal strike us as especially outrageous, despite our instinctive aversion to taxes of any sort. Given the ravenous appetite for revenues of the federal, state, and local governments, it seems more remarkable that they hadn’t decided to take a bite out of this tempting e-commerce pie long ago. There’s even an argument to be made about fairness, as sales taxes are charged at all those traditional shops that employ brick-layers and mortar masons and friendly clerks. We suppose that internet shops also employ people, although for all we know they’re run with robots or trained monkeys, but in any case it is hard to see why the law should grant them a competitive advantage.
Still, there’s something unsettling about the recent enthusiasm for all manner of new taxes. In addition to the internet sales tax, President Barack Obama’s budget proposal includes caps on income tax deductions, further cigarette tax increases, limits on the tax breaks for contributions to individual retirement accounts, and a change in the way inflation is measured that also amount to a cut in the earned income tax credit. These follow the wide variety of other taxes hidden within the thousands of pages of Obamacare regulations, the cost of new regulations that the affected businesses will pass along to customers, as well as the countless new taxes cooked up at other levels of government, and although it doesn’t come close to balancing anyone’s budgets it does add up to a lot of money.
Obama famously vowed in his first presidential campaign that he would not raise any taxes on any making less than $250,000 a year, which is apparently the threshold of avaricious greed that merits punitive taxation, but even such friendly media as Politico and the Huffington Post have noticed that these tax increases reach down much further into the middle class. That vow wasn’t so famous as George H.W. Bush’s “read my lips” pledge, which the Democrats somehow successfully used to sink his re-election chances after he capitulated to a Democratic demand for higher taxes, but it was well known enough to have helped Obama get elected. Many people will be less enthusiastic about the president’s vastly expanded government if they understand that they’ll also be asked to pitch in more, along with those all those nasty rich people, and the sooner the realization occurs the better.
— Bud Norman