Friday, April 01, 2016

Yet more States and taxes

As I expected, the public reception of Turnbull's State tax musings seems underwhelming, given that on Sunrise this morning we had the spectacle of both Jeff Kennett and Mark Latham opposing it.   (And David Koch was cynical from the start too.)

The reception to this idea gives good examples of political opportunism, too.  While Labor might claim credit for being the side to recognize (and say openly) that there is both a revenue and a spending issue with Australian governments at the moment, Shorten is more than happy to note as one objection to Turnbull's plan that it probably means "more taxes".   And, of course, on the Coalition side you have the spectacle of the PM and Treasurer seemingly not getting their lines straight. 

As for "middle of the road" economics writers who are for it, I see that Tim Colebatch has joined Martin in basic support.  But he dismisses my "race to the bottom" concern:
Wouldn’t it mean a “race to the bottom” in which states compete to cut tax rates, forcing them to cut services as well?
Only if state governments think they will win more political support from lower taxes than they would lose from lower services. It is no more likely than the opposite fear, that states will keep raising taxes so they can expand services.
That seems a tad naive, given the history noted in Creighton's column yesterday.

But generally, Malcolm Turnbull remains a bit of a puzzle:   smart, urbane, compassionate, says all the right things before getting the top job;   but then as a leader it seems his political skills go all wonky 

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