A pattern has emerged in recent Washington state election cycles in which Democrats running for major statewide office promise that, if elected, they will not raise taxes and then, once safely in office, they do exactly the opposite. Here are some examples.
Seeking the governorship in 2004 Christine Gregoire said nothing about wanting to increase the tax burden state government imposes on Washingtonians. Yet that’s just what she did within months of taking office. Joined by majority Democrats in the legislature, the newly-minted governor signed a permanent $500 million tax increase, one of the largest in state history.
In 2008, as Gregoire sought re-election she said, “Now is not the time you put taxes on people.” True enough. Apparently she meant that 2009 was the time to raise taxes, because she proposed a budget with tax increases as her way of handling a $2.6 billion shortfall.
In 2010, a coalition of liberal activists, labor unions and Democratic groups pushed hard for Initiative 1098, a ballot measure to impose a state income tax, while Democratic candidates were careful to keep their own opinions to themselves (although most of them probably voted for it.) Politically their silence was smart, because at the polls voters crushed Initiative 1098 by nearly two to one. Still, every session a group of Democratic lawmakers quietly introduces a bill to impose a state income, waiting for the right political opportunity to enact it into law. In 2013 that bill was SB 5166, introduced by Sen. Maralyn Chase (D-Shoreline).
In 2012, as Jay Inslee was running for governor, he assured the public, “I would veto anything that heads the wrong direction, and the wrong direction is new taxes in the state of Washington.” In other campaign remarks he said “I am not proposing raising taxes…” and “A plan that raises taxes is not a way forward…”
That’s clear enough, and these assurances no doubt conveyed what Inslee intended, that voters should not fear he was just another tax-and-spend Democrat. Once in office, however, Inslee reversed course.
In March 2013, within months of becoming governor, Inslee proposed $1.2 billion in new taxes, including higher B&O taxes on travel agents and other professional services, and new sales taxes on bottled water, car trade-ins, out-of-state visitors and brewery owners.
Democrats took a similar approach in their years-long effort to end voter-approved limits on enacting tax increases. They finally succeeded in February, when the state supreme court overturned Initiative 1185, which had required a two-thirds vote in the legislature to pass a tax increase. The purpose of filing the lawsuit was to clear the way for imposing additional tax increases, which is just what Democrats did when Inslee signed a two-year state budget a few months later.
Democrats need ever-rising government revenue to feed and reward the interest groups that got them elected and sustain them in power, but that doesn’t mean the people should be financially burdened just to further their political goals.
The pattern is clear. When it comes to commitments they won’t raise people’s taxes, Democrats treat their campaign promises like a baked pie crust – something that’s made to be broken.
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