When the all-Republican Hamilton County Council passed new food & beverage tax, it triggered a law passed by the Republican-dominated State Legislature allowing a handful of municipalities to raise an additional tax of their own.
Confused? A lot of people are. They used to think that Republicans stood for lower taxes and smaller government. This is neither your father's nor Ronald Reagan's GOP anymore.
Fortunately, the Libertarian Party is there so that fiscal conservatives need not be politically homeless. Although the Noblesville Common Council voted to pass their own food & beverage tax last night, Libertarians were there to voice the opposition. From the Noblesville Daily Times:
The vote was not a squeaker, but when the Noblesville Common Council voted 5-2 to establish an additional 1 percent food and beverage tax for city eateries it was clear they heard the voice of protest from those who vociferously opposed the tax.
Rob Place and Wayne Kirk, chair and vice chair of the Hamilton County Libertarian Party, both urged the council to vote down the ordinance."
Please let us not use the small business owner as a scapegoat to solve minor budget problems," Place said.
He suggested council members take a harder look at the city's budget or impose user fees for parks and libraries as alternatives to the tax.
Kirk said he is a small business owner who takes clients out to dinner."Now I'm having to think about how I spend my money," he said. "When we get these tax increases it does steal from the common person."
Today's Daily Times also ran my letter, criticizing the County Council vote in favor of the new tax:
The Hamilton County Council's vote in favor of the food and beverage tax was expected, but still disappointing for a variety of reasons.
1. Taxes are a drag on the economy, no matter what they are for.
2. Public policy enacted by the County Council should always serve to make Hamilton County more competitive, not less.
3. Good representative government responds to the will of the people. The majority of Hamilton County residents are opposed to any tax increases, for any purpose. Affected business owners and employees were not consulted as to the impact they would feel. The County Council arrogantly rejected the will of the people in order to placate the governor, on the basis of party politics.
4. Food and beverage taxes for Marion County stadium projects have a history of outliving the buildings they pay for. History will repeat itself.
5. Contrary to the rhetoric issued by the Council, conventioneers in downtown Indianapolis will not be visiting eateries in Sheridan, Cicero, Noblesville, Carmel or Fishers. Most conventions are catered and most conventioneers walk to nearby attractions.
6. Contrary to the small government talk Republicans spout at election time, their track record is increasingly tax-and-spend liberal policy.
7. The regionalism touted by Republican officials should set off warning signals to Hamilton County residents, who chose to live here, not in Marion County. Regionalism ensures that the dominant population center sets policy direction at the expense of the satellites. This vote shows the result, which reads like textbook Karl Marx — from those according to their ability, to each according to his need. This is only the first blow. Just wait until the bill comes for the regional transit plans.
The Libertarian Party mounted the only organized opposition to these taxes and provided the only organized support for the affected business owners, workers and patrons. As the Republican Party continues to drift ever leftward, the Libertarian Party remains as the only true home for fiscal conservatives who believe in limited government, lower taxes, home rule, and — most importantly — responsive government.
The Libertarian Party is eager to run candidates against those councilors who voted in favor of the taxes. I encourage people who share our views to get involved with us, to help build a party that best represents the views of Hamilton County residents. Call Hamilton County Chair Rob Place at 776-1042, or call me at 845-9857.
Mike Kole, Fishers
Mike Kole is the former Hamilton County chairman for the Libertarian Party.