Jason Lewis’s most recent short-sighted diatribe published Sunday in the Star Tribune starts with a quote from Phil Mickelson in which the golfer threatens to leave California for tax reasons. My first reaction is who cares? Leave. My second is what’s holding Jason back? I am sure Tennessee, Texas, or Wyoming would welcome the blabbermouth eagerly.
States with relatively higher income tax rates do quite well attracting high-income, highly educated individuals and businesses. California and New York, for example, don’t struggle to retain economically successful people regardless of what the Phil Mickleson’s of the world choose to do.
Moreover Democrats are not out to “punish,” “confiscate,” or “loot” the incomes of high earners as Lewis tastelessly claims. Rather Democrats propose thoughtful long-term solutions to chronic policies of underfunding government programs and facilities. These investments sustain economic security and a higher quality of life for all, rich and poor alike, which in turn attracts more talent and private investment. The nation’s economic power houses are in places like California and New York, not Tennessee and Wyoming.
In fact, only about 5% of small business owners would be impacted by Governor Mark Dayton‘s proposed marginal tax increase on top earners.
As usual, Lewis’s column is loaded with misleading references to small business, taxes, and high income earners. He automatically connects taxes to harm for these groups and implies that higher taxes will persuade “job creators” to leave Minnesota. People who really create jobs will leave when they cannot find or attract skilled workers, especially in a future that likely will rely more on skilled labor and intellectual capital.
Taxes are necessary. However, tax policy should both be fair and responsible. No one suggests that taxes don’t have economic impact and can harm economic growth, but lower taxes don’t always bring coinciding economic benefit, especially in the long term.
Even Arthur Laffer — a well-known economist cited by Lewis in Sunday’s column seemingly as support for his anti-tax arguments — recognizes that decreased tax rates don’t automatically result in broader growth. Taxes fund programs essential to economic growth as well as programs that indirectly support economic security.
People are free to move and live where they choose in the United States. Perhaps if we had fewer drags like Lewis around we would have less trouble achieving again what Minnesota once was, a smart, fiscally responsible state that thrived, not a dysfunctional state plagued with bellyachers.