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Liquor reform for a gas extraction tax?: It should be a nonstarter | TribLIVE.com
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Liquor reform for a gas extraction tax?: It should be a nonstarter

Tribune-Review
| Monday, November 17, 2014 9:00 p.m.

There’s a big difference between compromise and capitulation. The Pennsylvania General Assembly soon will reveal if it knows the difference.

There’s talk that the newly emboldened majority-Republican Legislature (though not veto-proof) might trade a tax on natural gas extraction with incoming Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf for a privatized liquor system.

Maybe the pols in leadership positions aren’t saying as much — in fact, incoming House Speaker Mike Turzai says revenue discussions must start with liquor reform — but at least one analyst thinks as much.

Perhaps Republicans are so frustrated by four years of inaction on marquee issues and Mr. Wolf so wants to avoid gridlock that a deal could be cut, Muhlenberg College poli-sci professor Christopher Borick speculated for the Trib’s Dave Conti.

But since when does trading one great idea for one truly lousy idea make sense? How could any GOP pol argue with any credibility that enacting an onerous industry-retarding tax (on top of a corporate tax already too high) is a fair and balanced trade to end a Soviet-style liquor system that has perverted the marketplace and handicapped consumer choice since Prohibition ended? As rational economic policy goes, it’s a nonstarter.

It once was said that while compromise makes a good umbrella, it makes a poor roof. It’s an axiom Republicans must remember as Harrisburg embarks on a new era.

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