Terminator Jumps Shark

John Fund writes:

When politicians break their pledges not to raise taxes, they come up with the darnedest evasions. Take Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wants to levy new charges on California doctors, hospitals and employers to help pay for his $12 billion health-care plan. “It is not a tax, just a loan, because it does not go for general [expenditures],” he told the Sacramento Bee last Thursday. “It goes back to health care.”

A loan? The first reaction of many Californians was: What state office will I be able to go to and get my loan back–perhaps with interest? It’s preposterous, for example, to characterize as a “loan” the 4% payroll levy the governor wants to impose on employers who don’t offer health benefits. California’s gas taxes are dedicated to transportation but no one would call them “gas loans.” Property taxes go to local education. Are they not taxes?

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All this, sadly, has led the governor into bizarre defenses about why he’s not breaking his ironclad promise from last year’s campaign not to raise taxes. Last year, he savaged Phil Angelides, his Democratic opponent, for proposing what he called a “job-killing health-care tax.” In a memorable debate moment, the governor taunted Mr. Angelides: “I can tell by the joy in your eyes when you talk about taxes, you just love to increase taxes. Look out there right now and just say, ‘I love increasing your taxes.’ ”

Yet whereas Mr. Angelides’s plan would have spent $7 billion to require employers with more than 200 workers to provide health benefits, Gov. Schwarzenegger’s new plan calls on employers with 10 or more workers to provide coverage or pay into a state fund, and would represent the second largest tax increase in California ‘s history. “The governor ended up dreaming up more taxes than ever popped in my head,” a bemused Mr. Angelides told reporters this month.


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