ME Gov. to Shut Down State to Block Citizen's Referendum Raising Marginal Tax Rate on Wealthy by 3%

Governor Paul Lepage is threatening to shutdown the government because the Legislature will not pass a sufficiently austere budget. The dispute centers on a 3% marginal tax hike on households in the top 1% (having income of more than $200,000.00) with the proceeds going to education. This tax hike on the the highest income households was passed by the people of the state during the 2016 election. The Republicans in the legislature and the governor have refused to enact a budget that contains the tax hike enacted by the voters. Now the Governor is prepared to shutdown the State, with all of the impact that will have on ordinary people, in order to protect the wealthy from a tax enacted by the people in an act of direct democracy.

Official response from submitted

The GOP has long advocated strangling the government with inadequate revenues so that it cannot deliver the services people want and need. Why, because it can then cash in on popular dissatisfaction with state services by saying the govt is inefficient, etc. and thus deserves less revenue in the form of taxes. Angry and economically desperate people, seeing little hope for support from the state, then opt to support Republicans because at least they may cut some of their taxes (even if they cut taxes on corporations and the rich far more). Democrats have fallen into this trap countless times (and now again) by compromises on taxing the rich and the corporations that entail reduced levels of services and thereby reinforce mass anger at an inadequate state.

The logical answer to this dilemma is a frontal Democratic party attack on inadequate state services by large taxes on corporations and the rich to fund them. That - as FDR showed in the 1930s - is the route to victory, but it entails irritating the corporations and the rich who own and control the mass media and threaten to withdraw political dinations and fund Republicans if Democrats dare do that. 

So practitioners of this GOP strategy - like Maine's Lepage - can and will continue to do such things just as Brownback in Kansas and others keep doing. Why not since, in the upside down world of US politics, it works.

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  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-06-28 21:28:02 -0400
  • Christopher Berryment
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-06-28 21:10:47 -0400