SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

August 16, 2013

Benton: Tax grab could open the door for GOP

Writing on these pages earlier this week, fellow columnist Barbara Anderson spoke of the growing discontent among voters over the recent tax hikes enacted by the Bay State’s Democrat-heavy legislature.

It’s not something that’s likely to dissipate as a result of the recent tax “holiday” bestowed on Massachusetts consumers by those same lawmakers. After all, as many, including local GOP activist (and Salem City Council candidate) Sean O’Brien, have pointed out, if relief from the sales tax is required, it’s likely that tax is too high in the first place.

Historically, when Democrats get feeling comfortable, they cannot resist the urgings of the entitled class — public employee unions, social activists, etc. — to boost government spending. And the results of the most recent elections have Democrats feeling very good about their chances.

Adding to the problem is the fact that today’s Democratic Party is dominated by members of its liberal or “progressive” wing who are more inclined to tax and spend, particularly when the economy appears to be on the rebound. Gone from the leadership ranks are fiscal conservatives in the mold of former House speaker Tom Finneran or the late Mike Ruane, the longtime state representative from Salem who served as vice chairman of the Ways & Means Committee for many years.

The latest tax grab has opened a door for Republicans who will aim to take advantage in the 2014 campaign when initiatives to repeal some of the Legislature’s latest fumblings may also be on the ballot. One would roll back the automatic increases in the gasoline tax, requiring legislators to do their job and vote on it if and when one is required; and another would repeal what Anderson aptly describes as the Gov. Deval Patrick-inspired idea “to tax computer services of some sort provided by some companies somewhere, maybe in something called ‘the cloud,’ maybe not.”

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