SD Rostra

Despite Deceptive Editorial, SD CityBeat Supports Sales Tax Increase

In a recent editorial, San Diego CityBeat’s staff claimed to oppose Proposition D, the sales tax increase on the November ballot. But the purported opposition is just a convenient fig-leaf for the tax-and-spend CityBeat “liberals”, as they prepare to endorse the sales tax hike. The “liberals” (I don’t like calling them liberals, as they’re not – they are leftists) rule out cuts while stressing their eagerness to raise taxes and fees. Then after having ruled out any other way of closing the budget gap, they pretend to oppose a tax they’re going to support.

Let’s start from the editorial’s conclusion:

Look, we’re easy targets for the opponents of Prop. D. Even we liberals don’t want to pay more in sales tax than we have to—even if it’s just 20 cents on a $40 purchase. But time is of the essence. We need to know exactly how much each reform will save taxpayers each year, and we need to know that each reform stands an excellent chance of being enacted, legally and/or legislatively. And we need to know this before November.

That deception is straight out of the left-wing playbook on raising taxes: They claim not to want to raise the sales tax, while advancing many reasons to support it. The incremental increase is just 20 cents on 40 dollars. You’ll hardly notice it! That line of argument explains how taxes got so high in the first place. On the sales tax, we should be looking at the entire burden of a 9.25 percent sales tax, not just the 0.5 percentage point incremental increase. And they say they can only think of the sales tax as a way to close the budget gap. San Diego CityBeat sounds so Richard Rideresque in its passionate aversion to higher taxes!

Show us the money, and our opposition to Prop. D just might stick.

“Show us the money,” is another dead giveaway about the “liberal” mentality at CityBeat. The editorial candidly admits how the CityBeat “liberals” are fixated on shoveling more money into San Diego city government through taxes and fees:

We have said several times now that the city should have begun pulling the levers years ago on two revenue sources that would net about $65 million per year: imposing a trash fee for single-family homes (putting them on par with apartments, condos and businesses) and raising the storm drain fee that all property owners pay (recovering the full cost of clean-water mandates). If the city were to raise its real-estate transfer tax to the California average, another $41.4 million would be added to the general fund. And there you have a possible total of $106 million, eclipsing the $103 million that the sales-tax hike would generate. But raising the trash and storm-drain fees would take two years to implement. The city should still initiate that process, but it likely wouldn’t provide budget relief until 2013. That leaves us back to square one for next year.

Libertarians such as myself say, “show us the reduced spending,” but the CityBeat editorial rules out spending reductions, and trots the usual scare stories, as if public safety is the only place left to cut:

No, we don’t think the city would choose to lay off hundreds of cops— the city’s cop-citizen ratio is already among the lowest compared with other large U.S. cities—or shut down fire stations. But it will have to find $72 million (or more) somewhere, and in the past year, during which the city had to find more than $200 million, it took more than $100 million from onetime-only sources. The city has streamlined much of its bureaucracy and cut employee compensation by 6 percent. City leaders have been through numerous rounds of budget balancing in the past few years—if there’s tens of millions of dollars worth of bureaucratic fat left to be liposuctioned out of City Hall, no one seems to be able to locate it. We don’t want any more services cut.

So the CityBeat tax-and-spenders say they don’t want to raise taxes, but rule out spending cuts, and claim no one had identified enough “bureaucratic fat” to be cut to make a difference. But they still oppose Proposition D!

I’ll make an easy prediction about the CityBeat soi disant tax-skeptical “liberals” — They will soon say their impossible demands haven’t been met, so they’ll “reluctantly” endorse the Proposition D sales tax hike, as long as it’s seen as having a chance of passage. Or, if Prop. D. is heading to certain defeat, CityBeat may drop the issue. But if passage seems feasible, you can bet that CityBeat will be out there banging the drums for raising the sales tax, with all the pretended fervor of a convert.

SD CityBeat’s crude and transparent ploy is to make its later endorsement all the more dramatic, because of its former “opposition.” As the editorial admits, the CityBeat “liberals” know they are easy targets for Prop. D. opponents. If they had endorsed Prop. D early on, it would be easy to dismiss them as the tax-and-spend leftists they are. Pretending to oppose the sales tax hike gives the CityBeat “liberals” more credibility with the gullible. Don’t be fooled.

Rush Limbaugh likes to say that “liberals” always have to lie about their true goals, because the people would reject them. I don’t entirely agree with Limbaugh, because there are many honest liberals who don’t practice deception to advance their agenda. But the San Diego CityBeat editorial is the product of the kind of “liberals” El Rushbo is warning against.

I know some Rostrafarians have struck up transideological friendships with the CityBeat “liberals,” but I personally can’t have warm feelings for people who dissemble like that about their true motives. If they just honestly stated their support for the Prop. D. sales tax hike, I’d respect the CityBeat “liberals”.

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