by Andrew Walden
After campaigning on a promise not to raise taxes and specifically not to raise the GE Tax, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie this week has promised to sign any GE Tax hike approved by the Legislature. Abercrombie says it is up to the legislature to decide “if some want to benefit at the expense of others.” And he is blaming the public for not rallying behind his proposed pension tax and Medicare Part B cuts without which he says “every body’s taxes will go sky-high”.
A recently released Democrat-run People’s Pulse poll shows 68% oppose GE Tax hike—including 49% who “strongly oppose” a GE Tax hike. But the news of Abercrombie’s latest broken campaign promise is drawing the slimmest media attention.
In a video interview with KITV February 15 Abercrombie, channeling Nixon, said “a silent majority” must rally to support his pension tax and Medicare Part B cuts. Abercrombie implied that the majority, by remaining silent, was not reaching out to the Legislature and that their failure to speak up is opening the door to passage of a GE Tax hike:
A--There’s been lots of support (for my pension tax hike). There’s a silent majority out there that understand that we’re all in this together.
Q—What happens if it doesn’t pass. Then what?
A--If some want to benefit at the expense of others, that has to be decided by the legislature…. (The silent majority) need to contact the legislature and let them know that we’re going to act like responsible people.
Q-- KITV plays video of UPW member testifying against the Pension Tax and in favor of a GE Tax hike, saying “Every body give up 1%.” KITV’s anchors point out that Abercrombie during the campaign opposed all tax increases and specifically opposed an increase in the GE Tax and ask Abercrombie for his response:
A--At the time were were talking of those numbers, the numbers were less than $200M, the figure that was put forward to the legislature last year. That has ballooned to over $850M dollars. We’ve picked up a 27% increase in the last year and a half just on Medicaid alone—that’s the share of the medical costs that the State has to pay. The costs are ballooning out of sight. If we do what I am suggesting … most people will not be affected. And it may be that when we get to the General Excise tax even that will not be enough. If you just take an increase in the General Excise Tax alone, that may not even get us barely past even. We are now $7.4B dollars in the hole on the retirement system alone. If we do not significantly reduce the unfunded liability—which a GE Tax by itself will not do—the very bonding authority of the State is in jeopardy. Which means every body’s taxes will go sky-high in terms of what it costs to do anything in the state.
Just in case anybody didn’t get the message, a statement from Abercrombie spokesperson Donalyn DelaCruz printed in the February 16 Political Radar Column made it unmistakable. After two paragraphs of fluff about how terrible a GE Tax hike would be, DelaCruz gets to the point:
If a measure to raise the GET passes out of the legislature because other elements of his plan are not adopted, he will of course consider it as the people’s will. In the end, all must work together, not just to balance the budget, but more importantly to help Hawaii recover and reinvest in our priorities.
In his February 17 column, David Shapiro even has the timeline down, asking “Are we looking at a special Easter resurrection?”
Perhaps as a show of their ability to mock truth, the Star-Advertiser editorializes Sunday, “Abercrombie should continue to resist increases in the general excise tax, as he pledged to do during the campaign.” Their decision to write a line like “continue to resist” is merely a display of the SA’s raw force of information volume. They are laughing at you. It is almost as insulting as DelaCruz' use of the phrase "he will of course."
And then the SA editors mention another timeline, writing, “Chatter in the state Capitol halls indicate some lawmakers may be tempted to postpone the toughest budgetary decisions until a special session, with decisions forged in the interim and when the looming start of a new fiscal year makes those decisions more urgent and thus, more politically palatable.”
Interview—Political Radar—Volcanic Ash--and then obfuscation is a well-worn pattern for releasing controversial Hawaii Democrat initiatives. The elite read the message openly, but the general public never hears it. This pathway allows the illusion of transparency without the reality of public awareness. By reading this article and sharing it with as many others as possible, you are breaking that silence.
The other shopworn technique at work is Abercrombie’s shaping of choices to manufacture consent. Completely outside the realm of public budget discussion are such simple ideas as:
- Auditing the DOE
- Continuing furloughs
- Continuing the 50-50 split on government employees medical costs
- Hiring freeze
- Selling off State assets to pay down debt
Abercrombie purports to have reduced the public options to screwing retirees or screwing taxpayers. He does this knowing that public employees are highly organized and their response is guaranteed. But while giving the appearance of being politically inept, Abercrombie is skillfully forcing the unions to do the heavy lifting for the GE Tax hike, while giving himself enough deniability to allow the media to influence the minds of the weak on his behalf.
At the end of this Legislative Kabuki show, the GE Tax hike will pop up mysteriously as if emerging from a magical public consensus which Abercrombie is already calling “the people’s will”.
REALITY: DoE Procurement audit: Millions wasted by "fraudulent unethical behavior"