Advocating the replacement of state income taxes with sales taxes remains a cottage industry for conservative think tanks around the country. They have had a partial success this year in Kansas, where the legislature paid for a modest reduction in the state income tax by making a “temporary” sales tax increase permanent. But conservatives have had less success than they expect with this agenda because they haven’t admitted to themselves the tradeoff it involves. Sales taxes do indeed appear to be better for the economy than income taxes. But they are also much more regressive, so a shift toward sales tax buys economic growth at the expense of greater inequality. This fact, which Jindal was not prepared to rebut, was a key reason his plan died.
Jindal was attempting to enact a state-level version of the Ryan approach, but in a context that left him unable to use the Ryan-style obfuscations that are necessary to hide the fact that it’s a gigantic exercise in upward redistribution of wealth.
Silver sees Jindal’s troubles as a reminder that “it can be difficult for a candidate to serve in an executive role and to position himself for national office at the same time”:
There was a series of active governors nominated by the parties between 1988 and 2000 (Michael S. Dukakis, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush). But there have been none since. Mr. Romney was a former governor but was almost six years removed from office at the time of his nomination and talked little about his executive record in either the primaries or the general election.
As the parties have become more nationalized, demanding greater ideological fealty from their candidates, sitting governors may face an unpleasant choice between working to preserve their standing among their constituents while alienating national party leaders – or pursuing a national agenda at the price of their home-state popularity.