by State Sen. Mike Folmer (PA-48)
In 1819 U.S. Supreme Court decision “McCullough v. Maryland,” Chief Justice John Marshall wrote, “An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation.”
Today, 190 years later, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has called for a 16 percent increase in the Personal Income Tax, saying, “The simple truth is we have no good choices. There are no shortcuts out of this crisis, no magic bullets, no painless path out of this morass. We can do the easy thing for the moment or the right thing for Pennsylvania’s future. The fairest plan is to spread the pain across the board, and let our economic recovery begin.”
I disagree higher taxes are good for Pennsylvania’s future or economic recovery and believe we have additional choices other than raising taxes.
Our nation was founded because Americans were upset about taxes.Â The colonists were angry their government spent their money without giving them a say.Â Patrick Henry gave the rallying cry, “no taxation without representation.”
What would our Founding Fathers feel about our nation today?Â Â While we have taxation with representation, we certainly are taxedâ€¦a lot. The federal government spends trillions (and incurs trillions in additional debt) and states spend billions; despite which level of government (federal, state, county, municipal, or school district) spending you refer to, it is all taxpayer money â€“ your money.
Regardless if you advocate for larger government or smaller government, one thing is certain â€“ government is getting bigger and the private sector is getting smaller, particularly in Pennsylvania.Â This certainly was not the vision of Founding Fathers like Thomas Paine, who said, “that government is best which governs least.”
Governor Rendell said his proposed tax increase will “only” cost taxpayers a few dollars each week.Â He also said the burden will not fall upon those least able to pay, and insists the increase will be “temporary” (hopefully, more temporary than the Johnstown Flood Tax of 1936).
How we spend the people’s money â€“ your money â€“ does matter.Â Taxes should always be the last resort â€“ especially during troubled economic times. People are hurting, jobs are being lost, and the future is uncertain.Â Government is the only entity that seems to grow and ask for more when money is tight.
We should not â€“ and we cannot â€“ forget the principles on which our nation was founded:Â fair taxes, transparency in the expenditure of those dollars, and recognition that those who pay the bills should not be expected to pay more.Â It’s your money.Â Government needs to live within its means and not expect any more from you when they don’t.
Mike Folmer [send him email] of Lebanon, Pennsylvania is a Pennsylvania State Senator who represents the 48th Senate district, which includes all of Lebanon County and portions of Berks, Chester, Dauphin and Lancaster Counties.