Is it possible that state and local sales taxes can get so high
that they choke off growth and hurt local economies? NBC Nightly
News, on January 23, used a New York experiment in abolishing
the sales tax on clothing and shoes for one week during January to
raise this question.
Chief Financial Correspondent Mike Jensen explained that the "one
week elimination of New York's 8.25 percent sales tax on clothing
and shoes" is part of "a national reexamination of skyrocketing
sales taxes." Jensen reported that "the average combined sales tax
-- city, state, and county -- just hit 8.2 percent nationwide.
Fifteen years ago it was 6.5 percent."
Jensen explored the rationale for New York's move, explaining
that New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani "says New York stores will do
more business, pay more income taxes, and hire more people." He also
interviewed consumers burdened by sales taxes.
"All across America, city, and state, and county officials are
looking over their sales taxes, trying to figure out how much is too
much," Jensen told viewers.
Kudos to Jensen for spotting this national trend.
As MediaNomics reports this month on page one, most
reporters are not spotting another trend -- the huge alliance of
groups arguing that free speech is at stake in the campaign finance
debate. There has, though, been an exception: Time's Nancy
Gibbs. Without endorsing the view that restrictions on campaign
advocacy equal restrictions on free speech, she at least reported
that such a view exists.
She ran a quote from Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky
Republican spearheading opposition to the McCain-Feingold bill, who
said: "I like the debate about whether we ought to amend the First
Amendment for the first time in history." She wrote that "McConnell
and his allies challenge the very premise that the problem with
American politics is that there is too much money in the system."
"We spent less in the 1994 election than consumers spent on
bubble gum that year," McConnell told Gibbs. "We're not spending too
much on campaigns; we're probably not spending enough."
More reporters should follow Gibbs' lead and report both sides of
the campaign finance debate.