Is the NDP afraid of the "T" word (taxation)?

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Lord Palmerston
Is the NDP afraid of the "T" word (taxation)?

Post #1.

Lord Palmerston

[url=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/broadbents-bold-ndp-advice/...'s bold advice: don't be afraid of the "T" word[/url]

It seems the NDP is afraid of it these days.  Jack Layton rightfully called for an inheritance tax in '04 and has been retreating ever since.  In 2006, he specifically said no new taxes.  Then there's the anti-HST campaigns and the "Axe the Tax" campaigns which have become central focuses provincially and which in my view feed into anti-tax populism.

 

Lord Palmerston

Hugh Mackenzie of the CCPA has actually come out in support of the HST.  He wrote me the following:

Quote:
I support the HST package because conversion from the sales tax to a value added tax makes economic sense (while the nominal rate of tax is 8%, because it applies to inputs, the effective rate of tax can be double or more than double that rate; in addition, it gets incorporated into the costs of exported goods, which doesn't make sense in the current economic environment), and because the enhancements to the credits offset or more than offset the potential impact into income ranges well above the median household income. I also support it based on future implications. I think consumption taxes are actually a pretty good way to pay for public services. As Richard Shillington and I demonstrated in our CCPA paper, paying for improved public services through consumption taxes delivers a net benefit to about 75% of the population. The sales tax is so flawed that it would be difficult to imagine circumstances under which it could be increased to pay for better public services. Sticking with the sales tax effectively means freezing an important source of revenue for the province.

I also think it is nonsensical for the left to come out in opposition to tax increases. I have yet to hear a coherent explanation as to how a party of the left is going to benefit long-term from stoking up opposition to taxes. We should have learned our lesson over the GST campaign, the main beneficiary of which was Preston Manning.

Somewhere between David Lewis' corporate welfare bums campaign of 1974 and today, populism shifted from being left wing to being right wing. It is time the left noticed that and took it into account. Unfortunately, we don't seem to be getting it. Witness the BC NDP, which played the populist game with the carbon tax, lost an election it should have won, and then does exactly the same thing all over again with the HST.

Pierre C yr

Sadly about as much as Canadians are.  And most Canadians believe the lie that any tax will wittle down to them along the line. The argument shouldnt be about taxes. But about the best way to pay for essential services. Once people realize they can save on something like public health care or public auto insurance they will accept a tax or fee to pay for it.

 

Im a big fan of the tobin tax myself as an alternative way for raising government revenue.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

The NDP needs to explain to the masses that taxes are being shifted onto their backs - giving the filthy rich and the corporate welfare bums a free ride.

CORPORATE WELFARE BUMS

Those words have never fitted the elite of our class warriors better than they suit them now. The NDP needs to declare war openly - because the war is on, ready or not.

Lord Palmerston

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

 

The NDP needs to explain to the masses that taxes are being shifted onto their backs - giving the filthy rich and the corporate welfare bums a free ride.

They certainly are not getting that point across right now.

Fidel

Lord Palmerston wrote:
 It is time the left noticed that and took it into account. Unfortunately, we don't seem to be getting it. Witness the BC NDP, which played the populist game with the carbon tax, lost an election it should have won, and then does exactly the same thing all over again with the HST.

1. Where in the fossil fuel exporting world have carbon taxes actually worked to reduce GHG emissions?

2. If a tax ends up being a slap on the wrist for corporate polluters, then why bother?

Fidel

Lord Palmerston wrote:

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

 

The NDP needs to explain to the masses that taxes are being shifted onto their backs - giving the filthy rich and the corporate welfare bums a free ride.

They certainly are not getting that point across right now.

Theyve only just returned to Parliament after summer break? Did the NDP turn into a big business party representing Bay Street and foreign interests while we weren't looking?

 

Lord Palmerston

Contrary to the claims of a few "left" critics of the NDP, the NDP is not a "capitalist party" or a "party of Bay Street."  Nobody is suggesting that here.

Coyote

Certainly afraid of taxation, sure. Hell, didn't even talk about taxes in the last election.

[url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wfAUlU-2_A&feature=channel]Oh, wait[/url].

janfromthebruce

Coyote wrote:

Certainly afraid of taxation, sure. Hell, didn't even talk about taxes in the last election.

[url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wfAUlU-2_A&feature=channel]Oh, wait[/url].

thank you Coyote - checking the facts to verify that your beliefs are based on the facts.

Unionist

[url=http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20051205/layton_elex... won't raise taxes, pledges Jack Layton[/color][/url]

 

Coyote

And I understand your point, Unionist, but there is a huge difference between disagreeing with what someone says about taxes - although surely you would agree with Layton's position in the last federal election? - and saying that they aren't talking about taxation, or are afraid of it. I mean, when you make the issue of corporate taxation front and centre in your campaign you are hardly ducking the issue.

 

Stockholm

In 2005, the federal government had a massive surplus so there was no reason to propose tax increases back then.

Some taxes need to be opposed. For example in the late 80s Margaret Thatcher wanted to bring in her "poll tax" whereby every single person in the UK over 18 would have to pay flat fee for municipal services. "Bollocks to the poll tax" became a rallying cry at rallies put on by the militant tendency and other far left groups.

I might add that the French revolution started out as a tax revolt against the salt tax.

Fidel

[url=http://www.ndp.ca/press/liberals-on-board-with-conservative-tax-hikes]Li... on board with Conservative tax hikes[/url]

 

And, of course, this was typical of depression era Hooverites in the US. They claimed to be practicing Keynesian methods by raising taxes...on those Americans who were least able to pay them. Liber-Tories are doing their best impression of Herbert Hoover's US government in tough times.

Canada's two old line parties want to do the same today with raising taxes for ordinary Canadians. Afterall, someone has to pay for the $50 billion dollar Tory-Liberal tax cuts for those most able to pay.

Unionist

[url=http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/mini/CTVNews/20040621/ndp_inherita... would ditch inheritance tax if minority[/color][/url]

Quote:
Federal New Democrats are prepared to sacrifice their controversial proposal for a $3.1-billion inheritance tax if faced with a minority Parliament following next week's election, the party's leader told The Canadian Press in an exclusive interview. [...]

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Stoffer became the first New Democrat to break ranks with the party over the tax. [...]

By essentially cutting the policy loose, Layton may have opened himself up to criticism that he is sacrificing a core principle in the quest for power.

It's a suggestion he flatly denied, saying the levy was a practical budgetary measure.

[b]The inheritance tax was put into the platform "to make sure it could finance [i]everything we were proposing to do[/i]," Layton said.[/b]

Hard to read this stuff without shaking your head.

Needless to say, the inheritance tax has never been heard of since.

 

Fidel

Of course that was a special case scenario.

Coyote

well, heads shake in different directions for different reason, i suppose.

Fidel

[url=http://www.ndp.ca/xfer/campaign2008/Platform_2008_EN.pdf]NDP Platform 2008[/url] pdf

Quote:
During elections, Liberals and Conservatives don't talk much about corporate tax cuts. But come budget time, the biggest priority for Liberals and Conservatives is another round of tax giveaways to Canada's wealthiest corporations. We will change that and bring a more balanced approach to Ottawa. Jack Layton and the New Democrats will:

[list][*] Reverse the Liberal and Conservative giveaways. The New Democrats will not implement Mr. Harper's profligate, wasteful and unproductive corporate tax breaks.

[*] We'll restore a uniform 22.12% tax rate - what it was before the Martin and Harper governments began these giveaways.

[*] Simplify the tax code by reviewing and eliminating outdated tax incentives and loopholes.

[*] Tighten-up tax administration so everyone pays their fair share of taxes, and the billions of dollars in taxes currently owed, but not paid, are collected.

[*] End the special tax breaks for the tar sand projects, and the big oil and gas industry.

[*] Eliminate the loopholes that enable Canadian corporations to avoid paying the taxes they owe by running theirfinances through international tax havens, as spelled-out in the Auditor General's report.

[*] Recover unpaid loans and outstanding taxes from corporations that are doing business with the federal government by deducting such debts from the contract payments.[/list]

Corporate welfare bums, cheats, and tax evaders -  this is the NDP! You're surrounded! Come out with your hands up.

Another form of taxation occurred in the 1980s and 90s when our two dirty old line parties deliberately cut corporate taxes while running up astronomical debt with private banks and foreign creditors while the country was on its ass economically. And it was due mainly to their policies for neoliberal voodoo. And our fiscal Frankensteins in the two old line parties are both doing it again.

Lord Palmerston

Stockholm wrote:
In 2005, the federal government had a massive surplus so there was no reason to propose tax increases back then.

Do you even consider yourself a social democrat?  There were massive tax breaks under Chretien and Martin which benefitted corporations and the wealthy.  As long as there's a surplus, progressive taxation doesn't matter?

Unionist

Was there anything in the NDP platform about increasing taxes on [b]rich people[/b]? Just curious.

 

Stockholm

In case you don't remember, the NDP spent most of the last election campaign pledging to reverse corporate tax cuts that the Conservtaives and Liberals had brought in and using the money to pay for all sorts of programs.

Lord Palmerston

Stockholm wrote:

In case you don't remember, the NDP spent most of the last election campaign pledging to reverse corporate tax cuts that the Conservtaives and Liberals had brought in and using the money to pay for all sorts of programs.

So you stand by your statement that in 2006 there was no need for tax increases on corporations and wealthy individuals because of the surplus?

janfromthebruce

A false surplus, by Liberals stealing workers EI money, they never created a surplus, they were thiefs. Now look, there's not enough money in the kitty, after robbing it blind, and the Harper cons are just following the example the libs set out for them.

Lord Palmerston

NDP: [url=http://www.ndp.ca/press/liberals-on-board-with-conservative-tax-hikes]Li... on Board with Conservative Tax Hikes[/url]

Quote:
“Michael Ignatieff has called the Conservatives’ plan ‘dishonest’, referred to it as the Harper Sales Tax and promised that he would not raise taxes,” said New Democrat Deputy Finance Critic Chris Charlton (Hamilton Mountain). “Is this what we are to expect from the Liberal Leader: Make a public announcement opposing the Harper Conservatives and then privately support their plans?”

Vote NDP because we're the only ones who can be trusted not to raise taxes.

Unionist

Stockholm wrote:

In case you don't remember, the NDP spent most of the last election campaign pledging to reverse corporate tax cuts that the Conservtaives and Liberals had brought in and using the money to pay for all sorts of programs.

[b]"Rich people"[/b] is what I said. Any NDP proposals to tax them more?

 

Coyote

I think the tax plan presented by the NDP was pretty clear.  Did it meet your litmus test? Obviously not.

I thought it was a great platform to run on, and enough Canadians agreed to give the NDP its second largest contingent to Ottawa ever. I know that doesn't matter to some people, but it does for those of us who are trying to build a viable social democratic option that can form government.

Fidel

Unionist wrote:

Was there anything in the NDP platform about increasing taxes on [b]rich people[/b]? Just curious.

Last time I checked it was mostly rich people and upper management types on the receiving end of shareholder dividends, untaxed corporate profits, and even when profitable corporations avoid paying (deferred) corporate income taxes. Hideo Mimoto, a statistician working for the feds then and cited in McQuaig's Shooting the Hippo, reported that somewhere in the neighborhood of 30% of federal deficits in the late 80's-early 90's was due to unpaid and deferred/delinquent corporate income taxes.

Fidel

Lord Palmerston wrote:

NDP: [url=http://www.ndp.ca/press/liberals-on-board-with-conservative-tax-hikes]Li... on Board with Conservative Tax Hikes[/url]

Quote:
“Michael Ignatieff has called the Conservatives’ plan ‘dishonest’, referred to it as the Harper Sales Tax and promised that he would not raise taxes,” said New Democrat Deputy Finance Critic Chris Charlton (Hamilton Mountain). “Is this what we are to expect from the Liberal Leader: Make a public announcement opposing the Harper Conservatives and then privately support their plans?”

Vote NDP because we're the only ones who can be trusted not to raise taxes.

Liberal and Tory times are bad times for Canadian workers. When the going gets rough, either party will favour the rich and stick it to workers and the unemployed.

Unionist

I guess we're into politicking instead of answering simple questions. Coyote, if you don't know the answer to my question, that's allowed. It just occurred to me over the last long while that no political party seems to want to propose increases in taxes on [b]WEALTHY CANADIANS[/b], such as personal income tax or capital gains tax or estate/inheritance tax. Corporate taxes are a very different animal indeed. Now, if I'm wrong and I missed something in the NDP platform, let me know. If I'm right, it might be interesting to discuss why that is the case.

But Coyote, if you just want to praise the great NDP platform, and tell me how many votes it got - well, that's not much of a recommendation, given that it's the fourth party in the House. As leftists, we can surely examine these issues without reducing them to popularity contests. Especially losing ones.

 

Fidel

Apparently the old line party leaders aren't the only ones refusing to discuss corporate taxes and delinquent corporate taxes. If Al Capone had been a Canadian, he'd have never been charged and sent to prison as tax evasion is encouraged and enabled by our two dirty old line parties for years and years.

Coyote

I didn't see anything about raising personal taxes in the last platform. I saw a focused campaign that pitted the needs of working Canadians against $50 billion dollars in tax cuts to Canada's wealthiest corporations. That is not fear of raising taxation as an issue facing Canadians.

But let me ask you: If you were the leader of a political party, let's call it the Unionist Party of Canada (actually, nice ring to that!), what would your tax policy be?

Fidel

And don't forget about Liberal-Tory tax cuts for corporate polluters in Oilberta belching out all those greenhouse gases and sending truckloads of corporate profits to the USSA every day. Last time I checked, it was mainly wealthy people profiting from environmental destruction in Canada and not indigenous Canadians or those of us living on 40% of median income or anywhere below that low water mark.

Unionist

Coyote wrote:

But let me ask you: If you were the leader of a political party, let's call it the Unionist Party of Canada (actually, nice ring to that!), what would your tax policy be?

I would concentrate far more on taxing wealthy individuals than taxing businesses, by means of increasingly progressive income tax brackets, increased capital gains taxes, and inheritance taxes. I would also apply strict controls on capital and liquidity flight in order to ensure that wealth created in Canada is taxed in Canada.

As for business tax, I would not prattle about "cutting" or "not cutting" it, but rather institute targeted tax credits conditional on government-approved reinvestment of capital (especially in environmentally friendly projects and corrections), job creation, regional development, employment equity (women, indigenous workers, minorities, disabled), skills training and delivery, and other like criteria. I'm really not that decided on how consumption taxes should be used, given their (prima facie) regressive nature, although I think there's clearly a role for them so long as the regressive nature is moderated or eliminated, whether by tax credits to lower-income earners or otherwise. Likewise, I haven't thought through "property taxes", which covers everything from your home to Canadian Pacific Railway's land bequest - too complicated for me.

But tax policy by itself is only half the game - obviously the question of how government spends its revenues is critical, but I think we all share the basics of what those priorities should be - and that's a separate discussion from your question.

Thanks for asking, though.

 

Coyote

Hey, the Unionist Party of Canada may be small but darn it, it deserves to be heard!

Fidel

He sounds like an NDPer.

Unionist

I wish.

 

Jacob Richter

Taxation should be shifted away from productive labour and towards capital - as much as possible.  Unionist, I would replace property taxes with rent taxes for various economic rent sources, such as land and thebroadcast spectrum.

Fidel

Unionist wrote:
I would concentrate far more on taxing wealthy individuals than taxing businesses, by means of increasingly progressive income tax brackets, increased capital gains taxes, and inheritance taxes. I would also apply strict controls on capital and liquidity flight in order to ensure that wealth created in Canada is taxed in Canada.

That sounds American. The Economist said in "Taxing the Poor to Pay the Poor", 2004,  that:

Quote:
"... between 1990-1997 the grabbing hand of the US state took an average of 31% of capital income between 1991 and 1997. The corresponding figure was about 20% in Germany, Norway and Finland, and 24% in France. In 1998, rich Americans faced a marginal tax rate on dividends of over 46%. Rich Belgians, Finns and Norwegians paid much lower rates. While Americans were arguing about Reaganomics in the 1980s, Swedish households were enjoying a negative tax rate on capital income, once generous deductions and adjustments for inflation were taken into account.

How is it possible for social democrats and the left in Europe and Scandinavia to tax capital lightly and still plow a third of GDPs back into social spending? Is it magic?

 

Quote:
As for business tax, I would not prattle about "cutting" or "not cutting" it, but rather institute targeted tax credits conditional on government-approved reinvestment of capital (especially in environmentally friendly projects and corrections)

That sounds a lot like ONDP and federal NDP tax strategy to me.

genstrike

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

The NDP needs to explain to the masses that taxes are being shifted onto their backs - giving the filthy rich and the corporate welfare bums a free ride.

CORPORATE WELFARE BUMS

Those words have never fitted the elite of our class warriors better than they suit them now. The NDP needs to declare war openly - because the war is on, ready or not.

 

First, there are no class warriors left in Parliament.

Second, is this really a good slogan?  I've never liked it because it stigmatizes welfare recipients and further legitimizes the sort of "welfare bums" stereotypes which allows the right to attack social assistance programs.

Lord Palmerston wrote:

Contrary to the claims of a few "left" critics of the NDP, the NDP is not a "capitalist party" or a "party of Bay Street." Nobody is suggesting that here.

How is the NDP not capitalist?  Where in their platform do they say they are against capitalism?

Social democracy is just another form of capitalism

George Victor

But if you are not making the laws, all of this is just more  about what "should be", not really "getting at" the bastards, eh?  Retreat into delusional thoughts about "class warriors", rather than effectively supplyiing housing for the unhoused, food for the unfed. 

Lord Palmerston

genstrike wrote:
How is the NDP not capitalist?  Where in their platform do they say they are against capitalism?

Social democracy is just another form of capitalism

Of course it is.  But that's not the point.  Virtually no capitalists support the NDP.

Daniel Grice

I have always found it amusing how the NDP came out so strongly against income trusts and in favour of high corporate taxes. The corporate welfare bums are often owned by the teachers pension fund and workers retirement RRSPs. Income trusts were primarily an investment tool for seniors since the wealthly would have to pay their full marginal tax rate.

Corporate executives get paid pre-corporate taxes. RRSPs do not.

George Victor

Right on, DG.  And we ALL,, I mean ALL depend on the corporations being PROFITABLE!

Fidel

genstrike wrote:

Second, is this really a good slogan?  I've never liked it because it stigmatizes welfare recipients and further legitimizes the sort of "welfare bums" stereotypes which allows the right to attack social assistance programs

 

Except that people on social assistance have few choices but to accept assistance, especially now that the economy's on its neoliberal derriere. Canada's corporate welfare bums do have the choice to not accept government welfare cheques in the mail.

[url=http://www.fraserinstitute.org/newsandevents/news/6395.aspx]Rightwing Vancouver make-believe think tank estimates corporate dole to be $180 billion[/url] during the last twelve-year Liberal dynasty in Ottawa.

It's time to get the rich off welfare in Canada!

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

genstrike wrote:

First, there are no class warriors left in Parliament.

First, you misunderstood me. I was referring to the Conservatives as class warriors, not the NDP. 

I was exhorting the NDP to recognize the war is on. I want the New Democrats to become class warriors, rather than continuing to lose the war by default.

genstrike

George Victor wrote:

But if you are not making the laws, all of this is just more  about what "should be", not really "getting at" the bastards, eh?  Retreat into delusional thoughts about "class warriors", rather than effectively supplyiing housing for the unhoused, food for the unfed. 

(something about how knee-jerk anti-communism is intellectually satisfying because it allows me to dismiss anyone with any sort of critical analysis of the economy as delusional)

I'm not the delusional one.  Anyone denying that class war exists, is on, is part of capitalism, and right now our side isn't doing well is delusional.

 

Lord Palmerston wrote:

genstrike wrote:
How is the NDP not capitalist? Where in their platform do they say they are against capitalism?

Social democracy is just another form of capitalism

Of course it is. But that's not the point. Virtually no capitalists support the NDP.

So, are you saying the NDP is a capitalist party or isn't?  Because above you stated that the NDP isn't a capitalist party, and that nobody is even suggesting that it is.

Fidel

The NDP is a pro-Canadian party and advocating for market socialism, mixed market capitalism, and even social democracy,  but not Washington consensus neoliberal capitalism falling down around everyone's ears today. And the NDP will likely oppose whatever  "new" second-hand ideology the two stoogeocratic old line parties in Ottawa receive instructions for next from their imperial masters in the USsA.

George Victor

A couple of U.S.economists have published a research paper pointing to the rise of "progressive income tax" as a wartime thing, or as Neil Reynolds of the Globe explains their findings, on Friday,  "In his 'people's budget' of 1909, British Prime Minister Lloyd George imposed a 'super' income tax of 8.3 per cent on the rich - a much higher rate than the existing 5.8 per cent. ...the average top income tax rate in Europe was 7 per cent; in wartime Europe, it reached 50 per cent. France, for example, increased its top rate to 50 per cent from 2 per cent in two years."

The economists, Kenneth Scheve of Yale and David Stasavage of New York University say the "radical redistribution of incomes in the 20th century arose not from compassion but from the high cost of waging global wars - and the compelling democratic sensibility that the poor would fight in the trenches while the rich would pay the bills", in Reynolds' wording, the "conscription of wealth", as Labour described it at the time. 

I suppose one could argue that out there on the hustings, people are ready to give from the heart if only a trusted political leader rises from the ashes that are the average peron's perception of the political process.  But I have found no evidence of that in several years of attempts at raising the "average" voter's interest in providing more funding for long-term care for seniors and  the seriously physically challenged.

The Conservative's appeal for lower taxes has been a winning hand in political play for a couple of decades now - three decades in California, where  the inevitable outcome is suddenly evidenced in the destruction of social services across the board.

But try to find the media source that describes the process for what it is - institutionalized greed dependent on the invidious comparison of tax rates across social class and occupations - human weaknesses that the Cons have learned to play as "wedge issues" against a naive public.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Interesting point, GV. Higher taxes for the rich were only acceptable to them when they were to be used to ship the poor off to their deaths in foreign lands.

Oh wait - we're doing that now, aren't we? And the bastards are still whining for tax cuts. They've learned to have their cake and eat us too.

Sunday Hat

As an organizer, I like positions that build support rather than lose it.

I canvassed for he NDP trying to sell an inheritance tax. People hated it. People hated it to the extent that they didn't care what else the NDP was offering. When a single position makes losing inevitable it's kind of a moot point whether it's a "good idea" or not. An inheritance tax may be a good idea but any party that campaigns on it is going to lose.

As for the HST, I think there are a few points worth noting:

- It's not a tax increase. It's a tax shift. As TD Ecomomics pointed out yesterday the tax burden will be shifted off of business and onto you. Businesses will pay $7 billion a year less in taxes. People will pay $7 billion more. Combined with other tax measures in the budget, it will leave the government with decidedly less money. About $3 billion a year less.

- This IS the right-wing agenda. Why Hugh Mackenzie and other want to provide political cover for this appalling move escapes me. Tax harmonization is ABOUT shrinking government. It's ABOUT cutting taxes to business at the expense of the public good. People on the "left" who like this shit should seriously consider why they're on the same side as Jim Flaherty. Terence Corcoran and the better business nazis.

- So now that we finally have a populist issue that actually works for the NDP, New Democrats think it's wrong to discuss it. People are mad that their taxes are going up to pay for a business tax giveaway. They will pay more and there will be LESS money for schools transit and hospitals. And we're supposed to SUPPORT this? I've got a lot of respect for Hugh Mackenzie as an economist but as a political strategist he makes a good economist. The Chretien Liberals won EVERY SEAT IN ONTARIO campaigning against the GST. If he's wondering why the NDP lost seats in the 1993 campaign well.. I don't know anyone who think the 1993 result was because we opposed a mind-numbingly unpopular tax. I realize self-relflection can be painful but he may want to reflect on the Rae Government in Ontario if he's wondering why the NDP was wiped off the map.

 

 

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