Right out of the gate, gubernatorial candidate Lincoln Chafee calls for the expansion of the sales tax in a state that already has the second highest sale tax rate, at 7 percent. In all fairness, as The Providence Journal pointed out today, Rhode Island also has the longest list of exemptions from the sales tax. But what is exempted are things like groceries and medication, which everyone, everyone that is except apparently Chafee, think should be exempted. Here is Chafee defending his tax:
At least “you have choices on the sales tax. You can spend $50 on groceries, or you can spend $40.… You can buy the Cadillac or you can buy the Chevrolet. You have those choices. With the property tax, you don’t,” he argued.
Leave it to him to unite Republicans and Democrats on this issue:
Added state GOP Chairman Giovanni Cicione: “A stunning move — we’ll tax the poor to fix our addiction to spending.… This is not a ‘new way forward,’ but the same old backwards path to buying union votes by raising taxes on regular Rhode Islanders.”
Added Patrick Lynch, brother of Bill Lynch and attorney general: “At a time when people are already struggling to decide if they can afford groceries or medicine, Senator Chafee wants to tax them both and make it more expensive for Rhode Island’s families.”
To his credit, Chafee also said Rhode Island also needs to rein in spending. But here’s a radical idea: why not curb the spending first, before we even talk about creating new taxes?