Killing the American Dream

The Kasich administration has taken direct aim at the real job creators in our state – small business owners. By doing this – they are unwittingly killing many American Dreams.

The Kasich administration is pushing the legislature to QUADRUPLE the current “severance tax.” This is a tax on businesses who “sever” oil and gas from the ground in Ohio, and Kasich wants to raise the current tax from about 1% to about 4% – a 400% increase on these businesses. This is in addition to the already deplorable personal and corporate tax environment that Ohio small business owners already face. So, you could be thinking – yeah, that’s wrong, but it’s not that big of deal, right?

Well, let’s share a typical story for one of the 2,500 small business owners in Ohio’s oil and gas industry that would be crushed by this new tax. If you will – take a moment and imagine that you are a 2nd generation small business owner in South East Ohio. Your father set up a business with his savings, work ethic and a quest for his American Dream. You know that he simply wanted to provide for his family, ensure his kids received a good education and maybe help his community that hasn’t done so well over the last few years.

Because he worked his butt off, things went pretty well for him. He was able to put aside some money for his family, hire 10 or 12 people to come work for him and he was getting by. He worked his whole life trying to secure a future for you, and it seems to be working.

You take over the business as he retires, and you are fortunate enough to have inherited his work ethic and a profitable operation. You’re surrounded by great co-workers – men and women who helped raise you over the last 20 years – men and women you respect and to whom you feel an obligation for their years of hard work.  With about a 7% profit left at the end of the day for all your effort, you aren’t getting rich but you are doing ok. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s ok.

In the last couple years, something truly unexpected happened – new shale discoveries and new technology have set up a potential boom for the business your family worked so hard to build. You can actually see some light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a moment full of promise for both you and your community. You can see other local businesses benefitting, property values going up, schools improving, and local population growing.  In such an environment, kids may actually stay home after they graduate from school and your community can thrive once again. So many Ohio citizens in your part of the state are about to get a break. It’s so close you can almost taste it!

But, just as this new dawn is about to rise – a strange thing happens, the same John Kasich who campaigned on a low tax, pro-growth environment proposes a tax increase that will:

1. Quadruple the existing severance tax on your gross receipts (that’s equivalent to a 40% income tax increase)

2. Cut the profit margin in half for you and your fellow job creators in oil and gas

3. Make Ohio less attractive for out of state investors (i.e. it takes $8,000,000 – $12,000,000 just to tap one new well). New study dropping Ohio in rankings of places for energy investment here.

4. Make Ohio less competitive when compared to foreign countries and other states enjoying similar shale discoveries

You look at what this change means to Ohio, to your industry, to your business and it hits you – your dreams are slipping away right before your eyes. What should have been the moment you began to build a real future for your family and your community is, instead, being destroyed just as it was taking shape.

So by now you’re probably wondering, what is the justification offered by Kasich for increasing the tax rate on these business owners by 400%?  He says – this tax isn’t as bad as some other states, many of the companies are big, out of state corporations and he plans to give the money from the tax increase to Ohio families through a tax cut program. Not a permanent cut in the actual income tax rates mind you – just a pure redistribution of wealth from those earned it, to everyone else when the funds are available.

Apart from the fact that this completely ignores the 2,500 small business owners already doing business in Ohio’s oil and gas industry – does this justification for increasing taxes sound familiar? Take from the producers and “spread the wealth around.” Demonizing business owners? Using class warfare to justify wealth re-distribution? The only part missing is Joe the Plumber.

At what point is this right?

If Kasich wants to cut income taxes for all Ohioans – by all means, do it! I’m all for it. But taking from families who worked hard to earn their money and giving it to random Ohioans to the tune of about $46 (that’s the high estimate) for the average Ohio family – what the heck is going on in this state?

This is wrong on every philosophical and practical level. Philosophically, it is legal plunder and wealth re-distribution of the worst kind. On a very practical level, why in the world would you want to take away half the profits from the very people that are projected to drive as many as 200,000 jobs to our state?

“If you want less of something, tax it.” – Ronald Reagan

You know what happens when you tax something? You get less of it. That means less money to hire people, fewer new jobs and fewer surrounding area businesses who would benefit from the potential boom. It means less of everything! See the slideshow on effects of increasing the severance tax here.

Just when Ohio has a chance to be highly competitive and to lead the pack – the Kasich administration steps in and seeks to crush people’s dreams. This whole scheme will have negative repercussions on real Ohioans for years to come.

I’m not a partisan person in anyway, but if you are – ask yourself one last question. If this was Strickland (a Democrat) and not Kasich (a Republican) – what would you think about a wealth redistribution scheme which quadruples taxes on a single group of small business owners, decimates their lives, and destroys new job opportunities; while offering the plundered money to people who have nothing to do with the process?

This is an attempt to “spread the wealth around” in the worst way, and is direct attack on the American Dream for thousands of Ohioans. These people are asking for nothing, but to be left alone to provide for themselves and their families – hard working people who did nothing to deserve this attack.

Our Ohio House of Representatives has resisted Kasich’s attempt to move forward on this task so far, but the negotiations have started. Kasich has brought the big oil and gas companies to the table and they are trying to craft a deal right now. They can afford lawyers and accountants to lessen their burden. But, you know who isn’t at the negotiation table – the small business guy who can’t afford the best lobbyists and can’t afford to push the big money to candidate fundraisers – the guy who will never get the politicians in their pockets.

Don’t let this happen. Defend entrepreneurship and economic freedom in Ohio. Help save these American Dreams.

Make sure your legislator signs this pledge to NOT vote for an increase to the severance tax. Make sure your legislator defends the American Dream.

Blog taken from Chris Littleton’s original piece on problems with Jobs Ohio and Severance Tax here.

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