For some relief from the apocalyptic doings on the international scene, here’s a New York State dog and cat fight in which we can all hope the animals win. It began with a proposal so dumb you just know it had to come from a politician — in this case, we have a bill introduced by a New York state senator, a Republican from the Big Apple, Frank Padavan, who wants to hit New York state residents — who already pay some of the highest taxes in the country — with a special 3% tax on pet food and pet supplies. The New York Sun broke the news, dubbing Padavan’s plan the Paw and Claw tax, in an April 20 story headlined “Albany Eyes a New Tax — on Pets.” Padavan told the Sun’s reporter, Jacob Gershman, that his aim is to help animals by funneling the pet-care tax into animal shelters. But it sounds like before the esteemed state senator goes any further, he needs to re-visit economics 101. A tax on pet supplies raises the household cost of feeding Fido and the felines, and is thus a disincentive to take on a pet. That means fewer dogs and cats in loving homes, and more on the streets and in the shelters. Which is the very opposite of this kindness to animals that Padavan says he wants to achieve.
Over at Fox News, one of my former colleagues from way-back-when at the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, David Asman, tried to set the senator straight in a column headlined “A Paw and Claw Tax Will Bite Pet-Owners.” Padavan’s office snarled back, saying the senator stands “adamantly” behind his proposed pet levy. The Sun then took a swipe at the perversity of “The Fido Tax.” Now Asman has another piece out on Paw and Claw, elaborating on how Padavan’s tax is a microcosm of big, bad tax-and-spend government, in which the politicians come out way ahead of those they claim to be helping. Of course, if New York politicians ever got around to actually lowering taxes, New Yorkers who love animals would have more money to donate directly to shelters (instead of having it grabbed by the state and filtered through the bureaucracy). Animal lovers could also afford to take in more pets. Instead, animals in New York state are now about to bear the brunt of tooth and claw taxation. So — what next? Will the senator back off? Or will Albany go ahead and help itself from Fido’s food bowl?