In the Washington Examiner, Glenn Reynolds has a modest proposal for Congress:
It’s no coincidence that much of the Democrats’ base doesn’t have to worry about taxes much, either because they work for nonprofits and public entities that don’t pay taxes, or because they live off government benefits, or because they work in industries — like the motion picture and recording industries — with a long history of shady accounting and favorable tax treatment. Republicans, if they’re smart, can nonetheless teach them that tax increases do, in fact, hurt.
They should head into the next budget battle with a list of proposals for tax increases that will sting Democratic constituency groups, but which will seem eminently fair to voters.
The first such proposal would be to restore the 20 percent excise tax on motion picture theater gross revenues that existed between the end of World War II and its repeal in the mid-1950s. The campaign to end the excise tax had studio executives and movie stars talking like Art Laffer, as they noted that high taxes reduced business income, hurt investment and cost jobs.
The movie excise tax was imposed in response to the high deficits after World War Two. Deficits are high again, and there’s already historical precedent. Of course, to keep up with technology, the tax should now apply to DVDs, downloadable movies, pay-per-view and the like. But in these financially perilous times, why should movie stars and studio moguls, with their yachts, swimming pools and private jets, not at least shoulder the burden they carried back in Harry Truman’s day — when, to be honest, movies were better anyway.
For extra fun, they could show pictures of David Geffen’s yacht and John Travolta’s personal Boeing 707 on the Senate floor. You want to tax fat cats? I gotcher “fat cats” right here! Repeal the Hollywood Tax Cuts!
I never understood why*, at the height of the “ban the 100 light bulb” movement, someone in the GOP didn’t counter by picking the most popular type or brand of movie and television lighting — which are typically much more powerful than home and office lighting — and order those bulbs to be banned as well.
But then, since most celebrities have failed to live up to the Gore pledge, I’m on record as calling for the dissolution of motion picture production in its entirety, if only to save Gaia from the industry’s destructive ravages.
* Actually, I do, for the reasons that Glenn goes on to explain in his article.