(Chuck Muth) – When it comes to the issue of tax hikes, Republican Brian Sandoval is the “Marco Polo” gubernatorial candidate – he’s all over the map.
To concede a point, “no new taxes” is not a governing philosophy; it’s a means to a philosophical end, that of limited government. Every dime you give to the government is a dime the government will spend. By cutting off the government’s money supply, you cut off its ability to do non-essential “stuff” it shouldn’t be doing in the first place. Only by taking tax hikes completely off the table will politicians be forced to do less with less.
And any Republican who can’t get this simple, basic issue right probably is going to get a lot of other conservative issues wrong as well – on education, health care, economic development, jobs, etc.
Which brings us back to Mr. Sandoval. He’s been under suspicion by fiscal conservatives since the day he announced his campaign last September, when the only solid policy position he took was in declaring that he wouldn’t sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge promising the voters of Nevada to “oppose and veto any and all efforts to increase taxes.”
But since that time, Sandoval has issued a series of statements seemingly all but swearing off support for tax hikes should he be elected governor.
In a recent e-interview with Nancy Dallas published here in Nevada News & Views, Sandoval stated: “My agenda as Governor will be to get Nevada working again by creating new jobs, recruiting new businesses, enhancing our education system, and not raising taxes.”
In addition, in a recent interview on Dawn Gibbons’ new radio program, Sandoval was asked, “Is there any situation in which you would consider raising taxes?” His emphatic, one-word unambiguous answer was, “No.”
So on a blogger conference call yesterday, I asked Mr. Sandoval why he was unwilling to put his tax position in writing as his fellow Republican opponents, Jim Gibbons and Mike Montandon, already have. And that’s when the former federal judge began spinning like a Tasmanian devil.
First he said he was absolutely opposed to a business income tax, which, of course, is not the same as saying he would never “consider raising taxes.” Since there are plenty of other taxes that could be raised other than a business tax, this statement set off alarm bells.
Later Sandoval further equivocated, saying raising taxes would be a “last resort” – which mirrors a similar statement in the Dallas interview in which he declared that “raising taxes would be last on my list of the things to do as Governor.” But saying that raising taxes would be last on your list isn’t the same as saying there isn’t any situation in which you would raise taxes, is it?
Next in the conference call spin-cycle, Sandoval said he wouldn’t sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge because it would “tie my hands behind my back.”
Danger, Will Robinson!! Warning! Warning!
You see, that’s exactly WHY we ask politicians to sign the Pledge; we WANT their hands tied. Because as we’ve seen over and over again, whenever tax hikes are on the table, taxes go up. It’s like reverse-gravity.
But more importantly, what does this say about the candidate’s word?
Sandoval’s stated position is now this: If I sign a pledge not to raise taxes, my hands are tied; however, if I merely *say* there is no situation in which I would consider raising taxes, my hands aren’t tied. Is that political forked-tongue double-speak or what?
Don’t worry, it gets worse.
When I pressed Sandoval on this point, pointing out that it made no sense to make a verbal commitment not to support raising taxes in any situation but then refuse to put that commitment in writing like everyone else, the former attorney general said, “I haven’t signed any pledges, and I am going to remain consistent on that.”
However, that turns out not to be true.
Elizabeth Crum, editor of the Nevada News Bureau, discovered after the conference call that Sandoval signed the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage pledge in 2002 when he was running for AG in which he promised not to support gay marriage or domestic partnerships.
And adding insult to the injury already done to his word on this pledge business, not only was Sandoval’s statement that he has consistently refused to sign any pledges false, but as pointed out in an anonymous letter I received yesterday, Sandoval broke that written pledge last year when he stated publicly that he supported AB 283, a bill passed in the last legislative session “that gave same-sex domestic partners the same rights as married people.”
So if history is any guide, Nevada voters can’t trust any commitment Brian Sandoval makes either verbally OR in writing, especially on the issue of tax hikes. Why do I say “especially”?
Because, as Democrat television ads running this very minute are pointing out, Sandoval was attorney general in 2003 and is the one who sued the Nevada Legislature over what was then the largest tax increase in state history.
The Sandoval campaign has cried “foul” and maintains the former AG didn’t sue to force the Legislature to raise taxes, only to pass the budget. “This office is not going to opine on how you accomplish balancing the budget,” Sandoval said in front of a legislative committee, “only that you must balance the budget by July 1, 2003. How you get there is the business of this body.”
However, as CityLife editor Steve Sebelius noted on Wednesday, “once the July 1, 2003 date passed without a budget, Sandoval did take a position, and it was in favor of asking the courts to order the Legislature to raise taxes.”
Sebelius notes that in “court papers from the later-overturned case, Guinn v. Legislature,” he found “two different petitions – signed by then-AG Sandoval himself – a request that the courts order the Legislature to raise taxes.”
So let’s recap what we have here so far. Mr. Sandoval said he doesn’t sign pledges, but he has. He’s said he didn’t sue the Legislature in 2003 to raise taxes, but he did. And now he’s saying there isn’t any situation in which he would consider raising taxes but doesn’t want to have his hands tied behind his back.
This is supposed to be our reason to believe again?
Sorry, Mr. Sandoval, we’ve heard this this kind of political macaca before. So we don’t want to read your lips; we want to read your signature on the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.