Lawmakers closing in on expensive, futile budget

The final shape and form of Washington state’s 2010-11 budget hasn’t quite been settled, but the closer we get to the finished document, the more expensive it becomes both in the short and long term.

In the short term, taxes both on individuals and businesses will be going up substantially. By one count, as many as 22 taxes would be added or increased through Senate Bill 6143, which the House approved on Monday and sent back to the Senate for further consideration.

But that’s just the beginning of the hurt — unless you believe a state can tax itself into prosperity.

Advocates of higher taxes — almost exclusively Democrats goaded on by Gov. Christine Gregoire — applaud their courage for taking a manifestly unpopular stance in order to fund needed services during the current economic recession.

But that short-sighted philosophy ignores the likelihood that higher taxes will only prolong and make the problem worse.

What the state — and the country — desperately need these days are jobs, and lots of them. But employers already taxed to the gills and wondering where the ax will fall next can hardly be expected to make the necessary commitment to add personnel.

It’s been shown time and again that you can’t prime an economy by confiscating money from those still earning it and handing it over to the increasingly larger segment of the population that isn’t. You do it by getting out of the way and letting capitalism work.

But our leadership in Olympia seems either unwilling or unable to learn that lesson. And until we start holding them to account at the ballot box, they won’t.

Alexis de Tocqueville famously stated that, “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

Substitute “Legislature” for “Congress” and you have a clear picture of the corner into which Washington has painted itself.

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