House Bill 253

Missouri’s General Assembly failed to pass an override of the Governor’s veto on a really terrible bill (HB253) that would have slashed taxes by a substantial amount.  The fact that almost 2/3rds of the legislature, but not that full overriding majority, voted to cut taxes and therefore revenues only a few short years after social services have had to take such massive reductions to balance the budget is just crazy.  The prevailing philosophy behind the bill, of course, is that cutting taxes will make for a more productive economy thus leading to more receipts, but such an entropic view of government doesn’t sit well with me.  Tax revenues are not for profit revenues, they are raised to benefit everyone rather than just a few (or, they would be in a perfect world).  

There is a whole debate to be had there about the philosophy of what taxes should be for, and the role of government in society.  Rather than try and tackle the whole thing, I’ll share a pastiche statement inspired by Martin Niemöller that struck me today as I read about the debate on HB253:

First the came for the public schools,

and I did not speak out because I didn’t have a child in school.

Then they came for the Medicaid,

and I did not speak out because I wasn’t disabled.

Then they came for supplemental nutrition programs,

and I did not speak out because I was well fed.

And when they came for the safety net I needed, 

no one was left who felt empowered enough to speak for me.

The only reason that HB253 did not receive a veto-proof majority is because several legislators found “errors” in the final version, not because they changed their minds philosophically about cutting taxes so dramatically.  Boosters of the bill have already promised it will be back again next year.  We will have to be there as well.

Zach Rubin, 2018