The politics of envy (cont’d)

February 10, 2012

This week Gov. Mary Fallin set phasing out the state’s personal income tax as the priority for the 2012 legislative session. The boldness of Gov. Fallin, state senators, and state representatives is receiving national attention and charting a path toward greater economic freedom for Oklahomans.

Fallin’s vision is in stark contrast with that of President Barack Obama, who continues to engage in the politics of envy. Progressives and tax users in Oklahoma are siding with the delusions of the President as they line up in opposition to allowing citizens to keep more of their own money. Whether it’s the cries of various tax-user advocates, or the hollow claims that property taxes will increase, it is clear that (as OCPA’s Milton Friedman Distinguished Fellow Andy Spiropoulos so aptly put) the battle lines have been drawn.

While tax cuts in Oklahoma have already helped lower- and middle-income citizens, we will continue to hear from progressives and tax users that cutting income taxes only helps “the rich.” Over the same period in which reforms like Right to Work and a 20-percent reduction in the personal income tax were passed, those with low incomes paid significantly less income taxes while the number of middle-class tax filers is growing, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). For example, according to the CAFR, from 2000 to 2009 the number of tax filers making between $25,001 and $50,000 grew from 373,824 to 408,771, or 9 percent. Tax filers making $50,001 to $75,000 grew from 178,394 to 202,309, or 13 percent. And tax filers making $75,001 to $100,000 grew from 76,186 to 114,452, or 50 percent.

The need for personal income tax reform—and ending the discrimination against those who happen to earn more—is necessary and is supported by a majority of Oklahomans. Still, the politics of envy will continue, which is a shame because it holds so many in mental slavery to the idea that government holds the keys to a desirable future.

Let’s hope state lawmakers don’t succumb to the delusions of progressives, tax users, and President Obama. Instead, let’s hope they spread economic freedom to all Oklahomans by phasing out the state’s personal income tax.