It’s a presidential election year, and the turnout–if we can judge by what happened in New Hampshire–might break records. So, of course, both Blunt and Nixon are offering dueling tax cut plans. To get the voters on their side. Blunt is proposing not taxing the military retirement of veterans, while Nixon thinks we should raise the income limit on elderly Missourians who get a property tax break and increase the break they get from $750 to $1,000. His proposal would ease the burden on an additional 65,000 low income seniors.
Blunt’s proposal would cost the state about $24 million a year; Nixon’s, about $51 million a year. Apparently, they figure they can be generous with the extra money the state’s going to have this year: projections vary, but a lowball figure is $250 million. Still, everybody knows that the tax credits Republicans have been slathering on are going to hit the fan in 2010, so I wondered why our guy would be so profligate. Why not suggest saving the money? Is he, like Blunt, just sweetening his image to buy votes?
To be sure, I’m much more cynical about Republican motives in this game than about Democratic motives. It isn’t that Blunt’s proposal–not taxing the military retirement of veterans–is without merit, though I do think there should be a cap on it. Captains and colonels can pay their taxes just like us retired school teachers, as far as I’m concerned.
But aside from the virtues of Blunt’s current proposal, his attempt to depict himself these days as a warm and fuzzy benefactor of the common man rings as hollow as the tink of a fork against an empty tin can. He’s supposedly giving more money to education (has to: the funding formula calls for it), and he’s proposing to put a lot of those poor people he knocked off Medicaid three years ago back on the rolls (but much of that plan isn’t really all that likely to happen).
But what about Nixon? Is he just as disingenuous? I think not. At least his plan is worthwhile in the sense that it helps seniors on fixed incomes of no more than $32,000 for single people and $52,000 for married couples.
Still, if we spend that money, we may be needing it in a couple of years for even more urgent expenses. Here’s the hitch with proposing to save the money, though: a state budget doesn’t work like a single person’s household budget. If you live alone and you save $2500 next year, then you’ll have $2500 plus interest in your bank account the year after that.
With a state budget, though–and this is especially true when the Dems are in the minority–if we don’t plan how to spend that extra money, Republicans WILL. The struggle over how to handle windfall cash is akin to sharing a joint account with a spendthrift. If you don’t invest the money in a new roof, your spouse is likely to blow it at Harrah’s.