The tax-and-spend Sacramento insiders who hunger for more taxpayer cash are having to secure their drool bibs after the release of a poll claiming broad public support for Jerry Brown’s proposed tax hikes.
The poll by the Public Policy Institute of California, a left-tilting think tank, asked the following question:
“Gov. Brown has proposed a plan to help close the state’s budget deficit over the next five years. The plan, which would be put before voters in November, would raise $7 billion annually through a temporary, four-year half-cent sales tax increase and a temporary, five-year income tax increase on those earning more than $250,000. Do you favor or oppose this proposal?”
According to PPIC, 60 percent of likely voters indicated support for the plan, which has those backing tax increases salivating.
Nonetheless, there are reasons to be skeptical. Let’s take a closer look.
Note how the question is framed in terms of deficit reduction, even though real world experience shows that there’s no correlation between raising taxes and reducing the deficit — or else California certainly would have no deficit at all by now.
In the second sentence, it’s stated the governor’s plan will, for certain, produce $7 billion in new tax revenue, even though, again, real world experience shows that tax increases rarely, if ever, produce the revenue that is predicted.
See how the tax increases are described as “temporary,” while also noting their sunset dates. Is it really necessary for a pollster to emphasize that four-year and five-year tax increases are “temporary?” Doesn’t their description as four-year and five-year tax increases already make that clear?
And the question mentions the sales tax, which impacts everyone, first, and then ends with the tax increase on top earners, so that the “tax the evil rich” element is emphasized at the end of the sentence, right before the respondent is asked to make a decision?
Ironically, this same poll shows 57 percent of Californians believe there’s a lot of waste in state government spending and 67 percent say the state government is pretty much run by a few big interests looking out for themselves and not for the benefit of all of the people.
If taken literally, the poll tells us that most Californians think government wastes their money and, therefore, they want to pay higher taxes. This significant contradiction of logic takes us back to the biased wording of the tax increase question.
Only an election can sort out what voters are really thinking, but before the Sacramento politicians start spending the “new” money they believe this poll shows they will get, they should look back to 2009. Two months before a special election vote on Proposition 1A, that would have raised taxes by $16 billion, a Field poll had the measure passing by 57 percent. It lost two months later by more than 65 percent.
In releasing this latest poll, the PPIC should have provided bibs for everyone because what they have served up is pabulum.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.