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irregular times logoOn Taxes, Republican Does Not Equal Conservative
A Guest Article contributed by Jim

My thanks go to Irregular Times for letting a conservative voice shoulder in for a few minutes' of your time. Yes, that's right, I'm a conservative, but don't get me wrong: I am most certainly not a Republican. I'm not a Democrat either. But whenever I identify myself as a conservative who has repudiated registration as a Republican, I usually get a response of incredulous shock. "How can you, as a conservative, reject the Republican party? Don't you know that the Republicans are so much more conservative than any other players? And that John Kerry -- he's such a Massachussets Liberal!"

My response: the notion that Republicans are especially conservative, even compared to Massachussets types, is a myth. A Myth!

A case in point: taxes. The conservative viewpoint is clearly that a smaller tax burden is preferable. So, if Republicans are really so conservative, then in places where Republicans are in political control the tax burden should be lower. Right?

Well, thanks to new data from The Tax Foundation, we can test that hypothesis. For each of the 50 states, the Tax Foundation measures the amount of state and local taxation as a proportion of state income. Then the Tax Foundation ranked the 50 states from 1-50 with #1 being the highest-taxed state as a proportion of state income, and #50 being the least-taxed state as a proportion of state income. Thanks to public information records, we also know which party controls which state political bodies: who the governor is, which party controls a state house, and which party controls a state senate.

SO, the Republicans-Are-Conservative (RAC) Hypotheses, restated in terms of this data, are as follows:

RAC Hypothesis #1: States with Republican Governors should have a larger Tax Foundation rank number (indicating a lower tax burden) than states with Democratic Governors.

RAC Hypothesis #2: States whose lower houses of the state legislature are controlled by Republicans should have a larger Tax Foundation rank number (indicating a lower tax burden) than states whose lower houses are controlled by Democrats.

RAC Hypothesis #3: States whose upper houses of the state legislature are controlled by Republicans should have a larger Tax Foundation rank number (indicating a lower tax burden) than states whose upper houses are controlled by Democrats.


Hypothesis Tests Let's test those hypotheses, shall we? What does the data show?

RAC Hypothesis #1: NOT SUPPORTED. The average rank of states with a Democratic Governor is 26.7, while the average rank of states with a Republican Governor is 24.6. This outcome is opposite that predicted by the "Republicans-Are-Conservative" Hypothesis #1. If you want conservative tax policy, by all means don't get a Republican governor.

RAC Hypothesis #2: SUPPORTED. States whose upper and lower houses are controlled by Democrats have an average Tax Foundation ranking of 21.3. A state whose lower legislative house is controlled by Republicans, however, has an average Tax Foundation ranking of 29.6. This means that having a Republican-controlled lower house is positively associated with conservative tax policy, an outcome in line with the "Republicans-Are-Conservative" Hypothesis #2.

RAC Hypothesis #3: NOT SUPPORTED. States whose upper and lower houses are controlled by Democrats have an average Tax Foundation ranking of 21.3. A state whose upper legislative house is controlled by Republicans, however, has an average Tax Foundation ranking of 20.9. In other words, there's very little difference between the tax conservatism of states with upper houses run by Republicans and upper houses run by Democrats -- if anything, the states with upper houses run by Democrats tend to rank as slightly more conservative. This outcome is opposite that predicted by the "Republicans-Are-Conservative" Hypothesis #3.


Conclusion In sum, only one out of the three "Republicans-Are Conservative" hypotheses is actually supported, while it turns out that having a Republican as governor or having Republicans control the lower legislative house of a state actually leads to less conservative taxation.

If you look beyond the hype and carefully examine the truth, you'll find that "Republican" is not synonymous with "Conservative", and actually may be contrary to it. Although Republican partisan politicians like to talk a good game, it's apparent that they often just don't deliver. Those of us who are conservatives first need to be willing to look beyond the Republican party for the kind of relief we value.


PostScript You may be curious to know Massachusetts's ranking on the Tax Foundation's scale: it ranks 36 out of 50. That means that Massachusetts is more conservative in its tax policy than 35 other states, including the supposed conservative bastions of Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Utah.

Jim, Guest Contributor to Irregular Times

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