There’s been lots written about why Missouri Senate Bill 26 is a bad idea (some examples: here, here and here). Most obviously, it offers big tax savings to corporations and other wealthy Missourians; these savings, however, would be partially paid for by raising sales taxes, eating up a disproportionately larger percentage of the income of poor and middle class folks and exacerbating income inequality. The remaining revenue losses would have to be made up by cutting services offered by the state. The problems with the proposal are obvious while the promised benefits are nebulous since plenty of evidence indicates that lowering or eliminating income taxes isn’t the boon to growth that the right claims it is (see, for instance here and here).
It’s pretty clear who benefits from this type of change and who doesn’t (hint: most of us don’t do so well), so Missouri GOP pols are attempting to justify this giveaway to cronies and corporate sponsors by inciting fears of a border war with Kansas, claiming that Missouri businesses will relocate to take advantage of the no-tax climate on the other side. While it is not at at all clear that there would be significant business flight, it is very clear that the resulting loss of revenue would wreak havoc on Missouri’s quality of life and, arguably, on overall prospects for increased economic growth.
SB26 obviously isn’t too smart from an economic perspective, but, not surprisingly, it may not be too smart politically either. The vaunted (by anti-tax GOPers, at least) Kansas experiment seems to be turning off voters there in large numbers:
Brownback has a negative -15 job approval rating, with 37% of Kansas voters approving and 52% disapproving of his performance as governor. 72% of moderates disapprove of his performance as well as 30% of Republicans and 66% of independents.
Brownback’s plan to phase out the state’s income tax is almost as unpopular as he is, with 48% of voters opposed and 37% supportive. 65% of moderates and 56% of independents oppose the plan. Even 34% of somewhat conservative voters and 28% of Republicans are opposed to the proposal to overhaul the income tax.
In Louisiana public disapproval has forced governor Bobby Jindal to jettison a similar, regressive tax proposal:
… Only 27 percent of Louisiana voters supported the plan in the latest SMOR poll versus a whopping 63 percent opposed. The idea didn’t even garner majority support among Republicans.
Also likely to be of interest to state GOPers who want to hang onto their legislative majority, Jindal’s overall popularity, like Brownback’s, is also tanking:
… . His approval rating plummeted to 38 percent in a poll last week by the non-partisan Southern Media Opinion & Research, down from 60 percent just a year ago. In an ominous sign for national Republicans, the immediate cause is a sweeping economic agenda with strong parallels to the House GOP’s latest budget.
It’s a funny fact that several of the governors who rode the Tea Party bandwagon to electoral success are alienating voters now that they are trying to enact the extreme right-wing economic policies espoused by the more cogent Tea-Partiers. Eight of the ten governors who are currently below sea level in terms of their approval ratings fall into this category. Perhaps there’s a lesson here for those among Missouri’s GOP lawmakers who have the requisite discernment to see it. Since they demonstrably don’t care about the public welfare – just consider their anti-Obamacare Medicaid expansion tantrum if you doubt this claim – perhaps self-interest might keep them from the type of folly embodied in bills like SB26.