We Will Continue to Criticize Ideas That Don’t Follow Principles of Sound Tax Policy, No Matter Who Proposes Them, Republican or Democrat

April 29, 2009

Yesterday, PolitickerNJ.com reported on the New Jersey gubernatorial race, where the chairman of the New Jersey Democratic Party attacked the Tax Foundation while also attacking a Republican candidate for Governor.

I decided that it warranted a response. Here it is:

To the editor of PolitickerNJ.com:

When the chairman of the New Jersey Democratic Party, Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, compared the Tax Foundation to Rush Limbaugh, it reminded us of a time early this decade when a Republican political operative called us “Democratic stooges.”

Back in 2000, we released data on a Midwestern state’s tax burden that was seen as unfavorable to a Republican congressional candidate’s message. So, one of his campaign staffers attacked us for being too close to the Left. Now that we have also been attacked for being too close to the Right by Assemblyman Cryan, the Tax Foundation’s reputation as a nonpartisan educational organization should be more secure.

It is unfortunate that Assemblyman Cryan has decided to attack the Tax Foundation in an effort to score political points.

Our data show that in recent years, New Jersey has consistently shown up at the bottom or near the bottom when it comes to tax burden and business tax climate; it has some of the highest income, sales and property taxes in the nation. Policymakers, journalists and residents of the Garden State can review their property tax bills and decide for themselves whether or not the Tax Foundation has a vendetta against their state or if New Jersey actually has very high taxes and uses a complex system to levy them.

Our public statements on reforming New Jersey’s tax code haven’t favored one party. Just this past October, we criticized a proposal from New Jersey Republican legislators to enact a sales tax holiday, which we see as a gimmicky policy that doesn’t promote economic growth. We also praised Gov. Corzine for some changes he proposed to the state’s corporate income tax, although those changes were modest.

During last year’s Presidential campaign, we criticized both McCain and Obama for several factual blunders they made during speeches and debates. We even called out a right-wing organization for running false ads on then-candidate Obama’s tax plan.

Because the Tax Foundation is a nonpartisan organization, we don’t have a dog in the fight brewing around this year’s gubernatorial election in New Jersey. We do not engage in lobbying efforts to support or oppose legislation or candidates for public office.

We do encourage policymakers, candidates, journalists and citizens to read and use our research. But we will be quick to clarify and criticize any misuse or distortion of our data, as we did with Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (MN) when she misused our Tax Freedom Day data.

More importantly, we will continue to praise ideas that follow principles of sound tax policy and criticize ideas that don’t follow those principles, no matter who proposes it, Republican or Democrat.

The facts might be inconvenient, but they’re still facts.


Matt Moon – Manager of Media Relations, Tax Foundation

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