What would Jesus tax?

Thomas Lifson
Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich wants to raise taxes. Big time. No less than $7 billion, ostensibly to fund education and health care.

But of course, he does not want voters to blame him for increased tax bills, so he instead is pushing one of the worst possible forms of taxation, a gross receipts tax on business, on the theory that people won't care, or won't blame him when businesses raise their prices to pass along the tax.

A gross receipts tax doesn't distinguish between a profitable business and a struggling one. Both pay a tax on their gross revenues, before any expenses have been paid. This kind of tax is particularly devastating for fledgling entrepreneurial businesses, which typically do not become profitable immediately upon being started. Also hit hard are businesses facing difficult times, marginally profitable or unprofitable. Many will close, while others will resort to layoffs if they have to come up with cash to pay the governor's new taxes. A better plan to dry up the creation of new jobs and new wealth would be hard to find.

In order to sell this bad idea, Blago is resorting to religion, provoking snickering from the state's journalists. Although I don't know the governor or his commitment to his faith, apparently those more familiar with him find such an appeal ludicrous coming from his lips

The suburban Daily Herald in the Chicago area wrote:

Never strike up a conversation about religion or politics. It's a maxim the state's political class generally follows.

So when Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich invoked God while pitching his tax-increase-for-health-insurance plan last week, it raised a few eyebrows. It also led several lawmakers to criticize Blagojevich, not previously known very much for religion, as a phony.

"I welcome an appropriate reference to the Almighty. But with Rod, it's very hard to take him seriously," said Republican state Sen. Dan Cronin of Elmhurst, who is Catholic. "I've got to believe they discovered he needs to say the word ‘God' to pick up some support with some group."

While Blagojevich declined an opportunity to discuss the topic with the Daily Herald, he did tell the political Web site thecapitolfaxblog.com that he wanted to mobilize black churches to put pressure on lawmakers to approve his plan.
The Courrier-News, also a suburban Chicago paper wrote:

Trying to convert teachers into a political force behind his new business tax plan, Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Saturday fired up the Illinois Education Association for a brutal fight in the General Assembly.

"It will be Armageddon, but we are on the side of the Lord and we will prevail," Blagojevich told more than 1,200 cheering delegates at IEA's annual meeting in suburban Chicago.  [emphasis added]

Blagojevich is counting on new business taxes to fund his "Helping Kids Learn" proposal, first outlined Wednesday in his State of the State address. Without offering specifics, the Chicago Democrat told the teachers the proposal would invest $10 billion in schools over the next four years.
Today, the Chicago Tribune summed it up:

Blagojevich has portrayed -- often with religious overtones -- his plan as being one of good versus evil.
This sort of God talk reflects not just an inability to justify the tax on rational grounds and a craven desire to fool voters into thinking they will get a free lunch, it also reflects a deep contempt for sincere believers, as if they can be manipulated by lip service.

Gov. Blago should spend more time explaining and less time pandering.
Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich wants to raise taxes. Big time. No less than $7 billion, ostensibly to fund education and health care.

But of course, he does not want voters to blame him for increased tax bills, so he instead is pushing one of the worst possible forms of taxation, a gross receipts tax on business, on the theory that people won't care, or won't blame him when businesses raise their prices to pass along the tax.

A gross receipts tax doesn't distinguish between a profitable business and a struggling one. Both pay a tax on their gross revenues, before any expenses have been paid. This kind of tax is particularly devastating for fledgling entrepreneurial businesses, which typically do not become profitable immediately upon being started. Also hit hard are businesses facing difficult times, marginally profitable or unprofitable. Many will close, while others will resort to layoffs if they have to come up with cash to pay the governor's new taxes. A better plan to dry up the creation of new jobs and new wealth would be hard to find.

In order to sell this bad idea, Blago is resorting to religion, provoking snickering from the state's journalists. Although I don't know the governor or his commitment to his faith, apparently those more familiar with him find such an appeal ludicrous coming from his lips

The suburban Daily Herald in the Chicago area wrote:

Never strike up a conversation about religion or politics. It's a maxim the state's political class generally follows.

So when Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich invoked God while pitching his tax-increase-for-health-insurance plan last week, it raised a few eyebrows. It also led several lawmakers to criticize Blagojevich, not previously known very much for religion, as a phony.

"I welcome an appropriate reference to the Almighty. But with Rod, it's very hard to take him seriously," said Republican state Sen. Dan Cronin of Elmhurst, who is Catholic. "I've got to believe they discovered he needs to say the word ‘God' to pick up some support with some group."

While Blagojevich declined an opportunity to discuss the topic with the Daily Herald, he did tell the political Web site thecapitolfaxblog.com that he wanted to mobilize black churches to put pressure on lawmakers to approve his plan.
The Courrier-News, also a suburban Chicago paper wrote:

Trying to convert teachers into a political force behind his new business tax plan, Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Saturday fired up the Illinois Education Association for a brutal fight in the General Assembly.

"It will be Armageddon, but we are on the side of the Lord and we will prevail," Blagojevich told more than 1,200 cheering delegates at IEA's annual meeting in suburban Chicago.  [emphasis added]

Blagojevich is counting on new business taxes to fund his "Helping Kids Learn" proposal, first outlined Wednesday in his State of the State address. Without offering specifics, the Chicago Democrat told the teachers the proposal would invest $10 billion in schools over the next four years.
Today, the Chicago Tribune summed it up:

Blagojevich has portrayed -- often with religious overtones -- his plan as being one of good versus evil.
This sort of God talk reflects not just an inability to justify the tax on rational grounds and a craven desire to fool voters into thinking they will get a free lunch, it also reflects a deep contempt for sincere believers, as if they can be manipulated by lip service.

Gov. Blago should spend more time explaining and less time pandering.