Ideology over Facts: MHPC Does It Again

In a piece that appeared Tuesday on its website, The Maine Wire, the Maine Heritage Policy Center (MHPC) argued for the elimination of the state’s personal income tax. It’s not hard to infer from this piece MHPC’s ultimate goal: To transfer control of our infrastructure, our schools, our natural resources, and our health care system for poor, elderly, and disabled individuals to private interests. The first step is to undermine state government and the influence of the voting public by eliminating Maine’s income tax.

Maine’s state and local tax system already favors the most fortunate. It takes a higher share of income from poor families than it does from middle class families, and it takes a higher share of income from middle-class families than it does from the wealthiest.

Our local property tax and state sales tax cost middle- and low-income families a higher percentage of their income than they do the wealthy. The state income tax is the only vehicle we have to level the playing field because the more money you make the higher percentage you pay. Rather than scrapping the income tax, we should be overhauling our entire state and local tax system to make it based more – not less – on ability to pay.

As usual, MHPC uses fabricated, misleading statistics and faith in discredited “trickle-down” economics to argue that eliminating the state income tax will somehow benefit families struggling to get by. Consider this egregious distortion:

If we reduced spending to the level it was the day Angus King became governor, we could completely eliminate the personal income tax…If we reduced government’s size to 1994 levels, we’d save $1.7 billion a year.

Maybe MHPC forgot to adjust for inflation, but more likely they are ignoring it and betting you won’t notice. In reality, a dollar today buys much less than a dollar did in 1994, so the loss of income tax revenue would cut essential public services much deeper than in MHPC’s false scenario described above. Eliminating the income tax will either shift the cost of public education and other services to municipalities and property tax payers or require devastating cuts to public schools and other services vital to creating jobs and building a strong economy.

That’s how radical MHPC’s proposal is, and it is radical by design, not by accident. The goal is not to encourage shared prosperity by relieving the tax burden on working families. The goal is to terminate programs and services that both strengthen the middle class and help Mainers who aren’t there yet get there, and to transfer more wealth to those who least need it at the expense of everyone else.