Legislative Democrats just keep getting smaller and smaller

The Democrats just keep getting smaller in Carson City.

I don’t mean literal height – but certainly in stature and the size of their tax plans.

Two years ago, they proposed a visionary $1.5 billion broadening of the tax base with a services tax and a franchise tax. It was too much too late and went nowhere.

At the beginning of this session, they talked about a new kind of tax discussion, starting early and developing something grand. Those promises were as empty as a strip club where the women never take off their clothes.

Within the space of one week, we have two plans that have been introduced by the Democrats. The Assembly speaker wants to tax all admissions, including movies and gym memberships (she doesn't know how much it will raise, but conservative estimates are $50 million). The jackals have sneered at it as a “fun tax,” but it might be better to call it a “tax our base” proposal.

Now come the Senate Democrats, whose leader, Mo Denis, is pushing a plan to fund education by increasing a payroll tax on mining ($14 million) and businesses that have more than $250,000 in annual payroll ($223 million). The Democrats are calling it a bridge tax to a more comprehensive plan, but based on experience, I call it a bridge to nowhere.

From visionary latecomers to myopic latecomers, the Democrats in two years slowly have shrunk in their credibility and relevance. They have not only proven talk is cheap; they have proven they are cheap.

The speaker’s admissions tax started out as a good idea – closing loopholes in the live entertainment tax – and mutated into a fun tax because she failed to anticipate the message problems and let no one really help her. I don’t see it going anywhere now unless certain exemptions are carved out -- and doesn’t that defeat the purpose of what she set out to do in the first place?

And the fact is the Assembly has done nothing – nothing! – to expand the overall tax base, as promised, beyond the admissions tax, which does not bring any of the payers corralled in the 2011 plan into the mix. Retailers. Out-of-state corporations.

And there are 21 days to go for Marilyn and the 41 dwarves. The Republicans in that house – at least some of them, including Leader Pat Hickey – have shown a willingness to play quid pro quo. But despite a good working relationship with Kirkpatrick, Hickey has been stiff-armed.

Down the hall, the Senate Democrats have been whispering about a Fund Education Now plan for weeks and finally came out with it today. But it does nothing to broaden the tax base, will have an impact on smaller businesses despite what they claim and uses a payroll tax that Democrats two years ago planned on phasing out by – wait for it – now!

Yes, the plan proposed almost exactly two years ago is predicated on increasing the payroll tax – also known as the Modified Business Tax – by 2013. During Session ’11, on May 5, the Democrats unveiled a plan that would have lowered the sales tax rate and imposed a sales tax on services – almost identical to a proposal by….the conservative think tank, Nevada Policy Research Institute. And it also did one other thing, according to the “key points” handed out by leaders Steven Horsford and Sheila Leslie (and attached here):

Replace the Modified Business Tax (which taxes payroll and is a disincentive to job creation) and institute the Nevada Margin Tax.

You know, the kind of margins tax they all have been mute about this session, allowing the teachers union’s version to go on the ballot without comment. Courageous, that was. And in so doing, they cut themselves down to size.

And there was more in 2011 on their plan and the hated payroll tax:

Broadens the tax base to reflect Nevada’s more diverse economy and does not penalize employers for adding employees or paying them more. 

 Less burdensome on small businesses.       

 And so we have come full circle and we have The Great Shrinking Party, which once thought big and now thinks small, which once wanted to lead and now could lead its members off a political cliff.

Kirkpatrick says wait until the interim, when they can study the problem more. Denis wants to consider putting a corporate income tax on the ballot.

They say give us a chance to use the payroll tax to bridge to the future two years from now, to believe their promises now as we did two years ago and three months ago that they have a long-term plan. I think what we are going to find out is that there is no “they” anymore, as the Democrats fracture over these tax plans, the Republicans watch as their foes commit suicide and in the end, Gov. Brian Sandoval will stand tall. (Indeed, the governor on Monday afternoon announced he will put $39.5 million into class-size reduction, which the Democrats say needs money. Oh, and of course he will veto their tax plans. Checkmate. Again.)

What was it Shakespeare said? "Man, he doth bestride the world like a colossus and we petty men walk under his huge legs to find ourselves dishonorable graves.”

The Democrats were masters of their fates, but instead they have buried any chance of a real tax plan and, perhaps, themselves at the ballot box.  The fault, my dear Democrats, is not in the Republicans or the governor, that you are underlings; it is in yourselves.


(Image from freewestradio.com.)