When the 2015-17 Washington state budget was finally passed back in June of this year, I heard boasts emanating from the Republican Party about how they held the line against democrats and managed to pass a budget without raising taxes. My first reaction was incredulity. My next response was to question whether I had been misjudging republicans and being unduly critical of them. However, a little research quickly revealed that I was being lied to, though it wasn’t until this past week that I heard an actual price tag placed on the cost of that lie.
In a radio program featuring Washington State Representative David Taylor, and former Representative Jason Overstreet, Representative Taylor revealed that the new state budget (which was passed with the support of 90% of republican legislators) increases taxes on Washingtonians by $17.5 billion over the next ten years. As Overstreet points out, Republican leadership, in order to conceal their deed, has resorted to deceit, calling this a “no new taxes budget.” Click here to begin listening to Taylor and Overstreet’s discussion of this topic at the 7:00 minute mark and continue through 11:30.
With an actual dollar amount for this tax increase now in hand, I thought it was time to spread the news far and wide and let my state’s higher taxes, bigger government republicans, bask in the warm glow of the light of truth shining on their deeds.
I remember receiving a letter from a conservative think-tank about 20 years ago in which they decried the actions of the big government, tax and spend democrats, who had just pushed our state budget over the $20 billion mark. Now, democrats and republicans working together have added nearly that same amount in increased taxes and spending in one fell swoop. Put another way, what two decades ago was an exorbitant budget for running the entire state, is now only the tax increase that we’ll be paying in the coming decade.
Republicans found many creative ways to spin the new budget, including using statements like, “we balanced the budget without a general tax increase.” That’s right, they didn’t raise “general” taxes, they just raised the gas tax and other “non general” items until it amounted to billions of dollars in increased taxes and spending.
The core attribute of a lie is that it is an endeavor to deceive – an endeavor to cause a person to believe something other than the truth. Whether achieved through outright falsehoods, half truths, or by simply leaving out one key piece of information, anything that intentionally causes the hearer to believe something other than the full and accurate truth, is a lie.
That republicans did not raise general taxes, or institute new taxes is a fact. The endeavor to make us believe they held the line on taxes and spending, is a lie. I could have more respect for a legislator who admits he raised my taxes than one who hides behind half truths and obfuscations, hoping I won’t catch on to what he has done.
I’ll go so far as to say that any republican legislators who are not actively exposing this egregious tax increase, are making themselves parties to a lie. These same republicans squeal like stuck pigs anytime democrats even suggest raising taxes, yet a hush settles over them when they themselves are the culprits. Presumably, they are hoping that their silence will cause conservatives to assume that everything is all right; that our taxes haven’t been raised; and that the republicans who were elected to rein in high taxes and big government are doing their job.
Out of 72 republicans in the Washington legislature, 65 voted for the higher taxes, bigger government budget, which, by the way, includes $50 million in taxpayer dollars to be given to a private business that specializes in the peddling of aborted baby body parts – Planned Parenthood. Whether or not you believe abortion is murder, to compel your neighbor to furnish funds for the propagation of that which he disbelieves and abhors is, according to Thomas Jefferson, “sinful and tyrannical.” So, in addition to the impoverishing effects of higher taxes and bigger government, and the moral degradation of lying, we can add the sin of tyranny to the list of deeds done.
I want to publicly commend and honor the seven republican legislators who voted against the budget – State Representatives Graham Hunt, Matt Shea, Brad Klippert, David Taylor, Gena McCabe, Bob McCaslin and Elizabeth Scott. Though opposition to such a budget is merely the minimum duty of those who profess Christian and conservative values, yet to do so when it means standing alone, and, especially, standing against your own party’s leadership, takes courage.
There were of course democrats who also voted against the budget, but I presume they did so because they were holding out for even more taxes and spending. If I’m wrong, please let me know and provide me with the names of any democrats who voted against the budget for the right reasons and I’ll gladly add them to the above honor roll.
Regarding the 65 republican legislators who gave us higher taxes and bigger government, I don’t want anyone to think I’m railing against them in a spirit of anger or hate. God loves those legislators as much as He loves me, and He forgives them with the same undeserved favor that He forgives me. In fact, I’m required to forgive them with the same forgiveness that I am forgiven with. However, the new covenant reality of salvation by grace alone, apart from works, doesn’t mean that the standards of right and wrong have changed, or that the conduct of those legislators can, or should, be condoned.
This phenomenon of the conservative right supporting, and being lead by, a party of higher taxes, bigger government and deceitful politicians, is not restricted to my state. Washington’s $17.5 billion republican supported tax increase merely serves as a poster child example for something systemic that is going on across the country.
Just a few days ago, the party that was elected to stop runaway deficit spending in the other Washington – DC that is – had a third of its republican House members vote to once again raise the debt ceiling, something which by now could just as well be done with a rubber stamp to save time.
Before you get the idea that the other two-thirds of House republicans oppose higher taxes and bigger government, take into account that the very next day they made Paul Ryan the new Speaker of the House with only nine Republicans voting against a man who only hours earlier voted to raise the debt ceiling. Are those two-thirds of House republicans (minus nine) who voted against raising the debt ceiling one day, then voted for Ryan the next, schizophrenic? Or perhaps they too are higher taxes, bigger government republicans, who merely needed to put on a good show of opposing the debt increase in order to get the conservative rubes back home to reelect them next year.
As frustrated and furious as one might be with republicans who lie about being conservative so they can get elected, then raise taxes, increase spending, grow the size of government, then turn around and lie again about having raised taxes, half of the blame still lies at the feet of their enablers – the people who elected them.
The experiences of the past several decades should have taught us by now that we can’t just sit back and wait for one of the establishment-controlled big parties to provide us with God-honoring, constitution-upholding, men of character to vote for. If we want the privilege of being able to invest our vote in Christian constitutionalists who contend earnestly for the principles of liberty, then we are going to have to shoulder the burden of seeking out, raising up and supporting such candidates ourselves, maybe through a local coalition of like-minded people, or through an alternative party, like the Constitution Party which I support.
Some may point out that, given the current balance of political power and partisan control, the Washington budget battle was not winnable. They may contend that it was not a hill to die on. However, at some point, one has to pick a hill to die on, or admit that all ones rhetoric and appearance of putting up a fight, is really just a charade.