Tuesday, April 29, 2008

NY Post on the Warpath

The NY Post editorializes today in favor of the governor taking strong action to insure that cigarette taxes are collected from Indian retailers: "Gov. Paterson says he's worried about Albany's deteriorating fiscal for tunes. Well, he could start collecting hundreds of millions in new revenue tomorrow by putting his foot down on Indian tribes' longstanding mockery of state cigarette-tax law. So what's taking so long?"

Indeed, what is the hang up? The Post sees timidity here in the face of potential Indian violence: "But the tribes, raking in dough from booming black-market sales, refuse to comply - and Govs. George Pataki and Eliot Spitzer each meekly acquiesced. Both no doubt feared a reprise of Pataki's enforcement effort, a 1997 crackdown that resulted in (among other acts of violence) Seneca Indians blocking a state highway with a giant tire fire. In other words, the govs chickened out."

What a sad scene. Millions of dollars being passed up because of the terrorist veto-and we're now on the third governor without the intestinal fortitude to simply enforce the law. Isn't it bad enough that the state's convenience stores and bodegas are getting the shaft? Do the tax payers also have to pay more so that a few Indian retailers can rake in the dough?

Let's get moving on this. No one should be above the law; and no one should be allowed, through the threat of violence, to intimidate. The average tax payer doesn't. The Post has the last word on this: "Contrast that with the hoops that state legislators jumped through in the recently passed state budget to squeeze every last drop of revenue from the tax code - most notoriously, a creative reinterpretation of the sales tax that would turn the screws on Web retailers for a measly $50 million. Maybe if Amazon.com shoppers built a tire fire on the Capitol lawn, Gov. Paterson would take notice? He needs to collect the cigarette tax now. It's not just the money - but also the principle of the thing."