Why Isn't Grover Angry About This? Sequester Causing Voluntary Tax Increases
I've been meaning to ask this question for a while: Isn't this the equivalent of a tax increase?
Here's the story.
The sequester spending cuts forced the superintendent of Yellowstone to decide not to clear the winter snow from the park's road as early as it typically had been plowed in the past because...well...it will eventually melt as the weather gets warmer anyway. That seems like a perfect solution to the sequester-caused spending cut except for the businesses in and around the park. No plowing meant no tourists, and that meant much less business.
According to this story by Mark Barabak in the Los Angeles Times, the prospect of lower sales convinced many of the tourist-related businesses around Yellowstone to pay for the plowing. The Cody and Jackson Wyoming Chambers of Commerce raised $170,000 to get the snowed plowed.
Wasn't this the equivalent of a tax increase for those people who paid to have the snow cleared two weeks early?
Yes, the payents were not required by law. But that's a distinction without a difference. It was money eventualy paid to the state and local governments by businesses and individuals who otherwise would have used the funds for their own purposes.
Yes, there wasn't a legal penalty for not paying into the chamber of commerce plowing fund. But there almost certainly was peer pressure from the others that did, and perhaps perceived or real threats of taking their business elsewhere if you didn't participate. That's at least as much coercion as anything the IRS could do.
And yes, you could call it a user fee instead of a tax. But what's the real difference between the two when the bottom line is the same, that is, it was still money out of the pockets of the businesses.
I'm pretty sure that the businesses that paid into the plowing fund think that their taxes went up because of the sequester. After all, federal taxes did not go down when spending was cut and they still had to pay more to a government to get the snow removed.
So tell me again why we shouldn't consider this a tax increase?