The level of taxation determines how much of your labor, your work, your time, your life is taken by the government and how much stays with you and your family. Higher taxes slow economic growth. Lower taxes decrease the disincentives to work, save and invest and increase the number of jobs, wages and your life savings.
The American Revolution, our war for national independence, was sparked by opposition to taxes: the Stamp tax, sugar taxes. The Boston Tea Party was a revolt against British taxes on tea.
And now the two political parties, once regional parties of the North and the South following the Civil War are now most clearly divided by their support for or opposition to tax hikes.
The Taxpayer Protection Pledge made this division clear, unavoidable and permanent.
In 1985, President Reagan asked me to run “Americans for Tax Reform” a national taxpayer group created by the Reagan White House to build popular support for what became the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Some republicans feared that when the final decisions were made in smoke filled rooms the promised Tax Reform would become a Tax Increase. To stop that. I wrote a simple Pledge that was signed by 100 congressmen and 20 senators and endorsed by President Reagan. It was a public written and signed statement by each elected official to “oppose and vote against” any net tax hike.
That Pledge became so popular with Republicans that voters came to expect that every Republican would sign the Pledge against tax hikes. The Republican party endorsed the pledge as a party position.
By contrast, The democrats’ demands for tax hikes remind one of a teenage boy on a prom date—they keep asking for the same thing over and over in different ways.
In 1988, President George H.W. Bush signed the pledge and famously promised, “Read my Lips, No new Taxes.” But two years later he broke his pledge, demanded and signed a massive tax hike and lost the presidency in 1992.
Then in 1994, 90% plus of all Republicans in the House and Senate signed the pledge. Republicans captured the US House and Senate.
For generations princes, dukes, king and politicians of all stripes would often suggest they would not raise taxes. They might suggest that “now is not the time to raise taxes” or “Taxes are a last resort.” But then they would point to the weasel words in their speeches and once in power tax as much as they darn well pleased.
The Pledge is written. It is public. It is on the web at ATR.org for all to see. Few who sign the pledge break it. Those few who break the pledge are often asked to pursue a different career by voters.
Since 1990, as long as the Republicans control the House and/or Senate there has been no tax hike from Washington DC. The only tax hikes since 1990 came in the first two years of the Clinton and then Obama presidencies when they “briefly” had the White House and both houses of congress. Their tax hikes then cost them the House and senate in 1994 and the House in 2010.
The Pledge brands the Republican Party at the national level as the party that will NOT raise your taxes. They may invade small countries they cannot pronounce but they will NOT raise your taxes. Since the pledge was signed by more than 90% of Republicans in 1994 they have controlled the House for 20 of 24 years.
Coca cola reminds us of the power of branding. You know that Coke has quality control, you know what is in a bottle of coke. You don’t need to read the ingredients or taste a bottle before you put it in your shopping basket. But should you get your coke home and after drinking 2/3 of the bottle you look down and see a rat head in what is left of your coke…you do not say to yourself, “well, I may not finish the rest of this bottle… tonight.” You wonder if you will every buy Coke again. Your put the photo of the rat head on social media and Coke has a worldwide problem because the brand is damaged.
Republican politicians who vote for tax increases are Rat Heads in a Coke bottle. They damage the brand for everyone.
It is important that every Republican sign the pledge –a public promise to all taxpayers and voters. It is also important that they keep that promise.
In Nevada, too many state legislators have given speeches promising that they will not vote for tax hikes—but they then refuse to put it in writing and two massive tax hikes were passed with the support of Republican assemblymen who “said” they would never vote for a tax hike—but did.
Those who lie their way into office should be encouraged to find a different line of work. They should be defeated in primaries. The pledge let’s every voter know where their assemblyman or Senator or Governors stand.
Before you vote: ask every candidate: have you signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge?