News Columns & Blogs

Is there any time when it's OK to raise taxes?

As expected, most GOP state lawmakers responded to Gov. Mark Parkinson's proposal to temporarily raise the state's sales tax and increase its cigarette tax by saying that a recession is the wrong time to raise taxes. They are correct to worry about how a tax increase might affect struggling families or possibly slow an economic recovery (though drastically cutting funding to schools and state services to the disabled and elderly also would harm families and the economy). But many of those lawmakers would have more credibility on economic policy if they didn't parrot the same ideological responses to any proposal to raise taxes, no matter the economic conditions. If the economy is growing or is stable, they argue against a tax increase because it might cause the economy to weaken. And if the economy is down — well, everybody knows you don't raise taxes then, they say. On the flip side, there doesn't seem to be any economic situation in which they don't prescribe tax cuts. A growing economy? Tax cuts are needed to keep it growing, they argue. A down economy? Tax cuts are needed to boost it.