A few months ago, the Burlington Free Press started running a column by Ed Shamy. It is usually very amusing and somewhat irreverent, but always enjoyable. I can’t say that about much in that paper.
On Thursday, March 23, he wrote a column comparing the House vote to raise the gas tax by 4 cents (6 cents on diesel) to a Republican proposal to entice mover-makers to come to Vermont to make their movies by exempting 25% of their Vermont-earned income from Vermont income taxes.
He opens by asking who deserves a tax break and sets the following scene:
Our first candidate is a single mom, hustling homeward at dusk from her thankless and lousy-paying factory job. Before picking up her youngsters at their after-school program, she stops at a convenience store to buy bread so she can wake up before dawn to make the kids’ school lunches. While there, she pumps gas into her 1990 Plymouth Horizon and tearfully shakes her head at the price of fuel. It has risen again.
Candidate No. 2 is a well-tanned dandy just arrived from Beverly Hills. He carries in his shoulder bag a lhasa apso with a ribbon in its hair. He wears an ascot. Beneath his pencil-thin, David Niven-esque moustache, he clenches in his pearly whites a cigarette in a holder.
We can’t help but feel bad for the mom, but this is not really a fair comparison.
First, by juxtaposing the gas tax increase with the name of the Republican legislator who supports the movie-making tax incentive, one might imply that the Republicans are the ones raising the gas tax. That is not the case. In fact, the Republicans were, for the most part, fighting the gas tax.
Second, it is not as if they are raising the gas tax in order to give a tax break to Hollywood fat-cats. They are completly unrelated – especially since a big budget movie has not been made here since 1999 (and this tax break would only apply to movies with budgets exceeding $1 million).
The other thing is the income tax break itself. I am not sure if I support the idea, but I understand the logic of it. Right now, we have no big movies being made here, so what is the income tax gain from that income? Zero – there is no income. If we did manage to lure movie makers here, we would reap income tax revenues on 75% of the income made here. Isn’t 75% of something better than 0% of nothing?
I get rather annoyed at the constant attempts by the press to unfairly paint Republicans as only caring about the rich. I would like to remind Mr. Shamy and the rest of you that the Democrats have such a solid majority in the State Legislature that you cannot blame anything on the GOP this year.