Chuck Muth: Beware of Sandovals in conservative clothing
For the Nevada Appeal
When it comes to the issue of tax hikes, Republican Brian Sandoval is the Marco Polo gubernatorial candidate – he’s all over the map.
Sandoval has been under suspicion by fiscal conservatives since the day he announced his campaign, when the only solid policy position he took was in declaring that he wouldn’t sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
However, since that time Sandoval has issued a series of statements seemingly all but swearing off tax hikes. For example, on Dawn Gibbons’ radio program recently he was asked, “Is there any situation in which you would consider raising taxes?” His emphatic, one-word unambiguous answer was, “No.”
So on a blogger conference call this Wednesday, I asked why he was unwilling to put his tax position in writing – as his fellow Republican opponents, Jim Gibbons and Mike Montandon, already have. And that’s when the former judge began spinning like a Tasmanian devil.
First he said he was opposed to a business income tax – which, of course, is not the same as saying he would never “consider raising taxes,” since there are plenty of other taxes that could be raised. Red flag No. 1.
He then further equivocated by saying raising taxes would be a “last resort.” But saying that raising taxes would be a last resort isn’t the same as saying there isn’t any situation in which you would raise taxes, now is it? Red flag No. 2.
Then Sandoval said he wouldn’t sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge because it would “tie my hands behind my back.” Danger, Will Robinson! Warning! Warning!
You see, that’s exactly why we ask politicians to sign the pledge; we want their hands tied. Because as taxpayers have seen over and over again, whenever tax hikes are on the table, taxes go up. It’s like reverse gravity.
But more importantly, what does this say about Mr. Sandoval’s word? His stated, convoluted position is this: If I sign a pledge not to raise taxes, my hands are tied; however, if I merely say there is no situation in which I would consider raising taxes, my hands aren’t tied. Huh?
When I pointed this out, noting that it made no sense to make a verbal commitment not to support raising taxes in any situation but then refuse to put that commitment in writing, Sandoval replied, “I haven’t signed any pledges, and I am going to remain consistent on that.”
However, that turns out not to be true. While running for attorney general in 2002, Sandoval signed the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage pledge.
Sorry, Mr. Sandoval, but we’ve been down this verbal, politician-speak road before. When it comes to your position on tax hikes, we don’t want to read your lips; we want to read your signature.
• Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy grassroots advocacy organization. He may be reached at chuck@citizen