Q: When is a tax hike not a tax hike?

A: When Ellen Bernstein says it isn’t. How else do you explain the ridiculous statement, in her recent opinion piece in the Albuquerque Journal in which she writes: “Rolling back tax cuts granted by lawmakers during a time of huge state budget surpluses is not the same as raising taxes. Some would like the public to think they’re the same. But, they’re not.”

She goes on to quickly change the subject, but never answers the question. If taking New Mexico’s top personal income tax rate from 4.9 percent where it stands today and raising it to 8.2 percent — a 67 percent increase — is not a tax hike, then what is it? For much of the 1950’s, the top federal income tax rate exceeded 90%, is anyone willing to say with a straight face that raising the income tax to that level is not a tax hike? Or, is there some kind of statute of limitations on tax hikes that I am missing out on?

Also, Bernstein, like Rep. Miguel Garcia and Allen Sanchez (of the Catholic Church) before, have made the case for various tax hikes. They also pay lip service to the idea of reigning in spending, but never mention specific cuts. Why is that? Are the left wingers in this state afraid to offend someone by calling cuts to an existing program, no matter how wasteful? It seems like they are all “on-message” when it comes to raising taxes, but no one wants to talk about spending because the truth is they don’t really care.

Unlike the lefties, the Rio Grande Foundation has specific budget-cutting ideas on the table including Medicaid, criminal justice, government employment, the film industry, and do I even need to mention the Rail Funner? Rather than being obstructionists and simply protecting their own fiefdoms, I urge Bernstein and others on the left to get serious and make their own specific budget-cutting proposals public. After all, if the government education system is to be a sacred cow, then someone else’s ox is going to be gored.

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