Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

May 14, 2014

CRAIG LADWIG: 'Republicanism' results in Indiana's 2 biggest mistakes

“We stand athwart history, yelling stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.”

— William F. Buckleyin his 1955 mission statement for National Review magazine

Indiana is an example, a bad one, of what a friend dubs “Republicanism,” the tendency when in the majority to trade away an electoral mandate in the interest of appearing reasonable.

Bipartisanship may feel good, but politics isn’t tiddlywinks. Indeed, to twist Clausewitz, it is war by other means. So when, exactly, should a Hoosier Republican hold the line?

There are two markers set down in our political history, points in time when the GOP should have manned up. In both cases being thought of as reasonable carried a heavy cost.

Earned income tax: The first was the GOP’s decades-old acquiescence to a very, very bad Democrat idea. It was rationalized as only a small step — an eminently “reasonably” one of course — to put government on a business-like footing. It was the state income tax.

In their new book, Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore include Indiana among the 11 states they use to illustrate the cost of making this “the big mistake.” The political promise was the same in each state: The damage of an income tax would be minimal but the increase in public services would be considerable.

That promise was not fulfilled. The study breaks out comparisons of subsequent state performance:

• Population — The population of every one of the 11 “big mistake” states over the past 50 years has declined relative to a control group of states.

• Production — Each of the 11 states experienced a decline in gross state product relative to the control group.

• Education —The study found no case to be made that added tax revenue improved test scores as promised.

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