Lardaro Should Watch His Credibility Attacks

It’s interesting to see Len Lardaro, a University of Rhode Island economics professor, argue against the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s sales tax elimination proposal on the grounds that we might have once cited the Hoover Institute on something:

Lardaro, however, disagrees. “It is a good idea but, like many Rhode Island proposed solutions, there has been little to no due diligence,” he said. “The group pushing it has created a report card using an ideologically tainted model from the Hoover Institute predicting Rhode Island’s economic activity is about to explode. This calls the entire group [promoting the measure]’s credibility into question. Reform sales tax? Yes. Abandon it? No.”

As the second commenter to the article writes: “A state employee is concerned about a loss of revenue. Conflicted?”

According to the Center’s RIOpenGov payroll module, using data directly from the state government, Lardaro’s gross pay for 2012 was $107,359.  That’s a fair bit of incentive to join the State Budget Protection Guard.

And even if Lardaro’s iterative Current Condition Index hadn’t become one of the sad echoes of the state’s economic wallow, his Credibility Index ought to be suspicious.  Anybody recall his 2009 op-ed?

I propose raising the state’s sales-tax rate to 8 percent from 7 percent, not broadening its coverage to services (to help contain regressivity), and earmarking all of the resulting tax proceeds to K-12 public education and public higher education. Should the legislature try to move any of the resulting revenues to the General Fund (the God of current consumption), I expect Governor Carcieri to veto this measure and take his case to the people.

After a morning of talk radio discussing his proposal seriously, by the time he got to Dan Yorke’s drive-time show, he proclaimed it to have been a joke to get a rise out of people and wake them up. Sure.

If due diligence is the watchword of the day, perhaps some investigation is in order into the past behavior of people who have a personal financial interest in maintaining the state budget.

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