Give Nikki Haley some credit -- she is absolutely fearless.
After months of taking hits for offering voters nothing beyond vacuous one-word mantras, she is now pushing a retread idea that is so bad the Legislature killed it again just two months ago: Eliminate the corporate income tax.
Some people might argue that Haley is not very creative, that all she could come up with was something other lawmakers (you know, those bad ones who aren't Nikki) discussed ad nauseam this year before realizing it was a mistake.
But, in fact, it's a brilliant move -- she knows that some people just hear the words "cut" and "taxes" without ever bothering to investigate whether that actually includes their own (it doesn't). Plus, she gets credit for being fiscally conservative without worrying about putting the state in an even bigger budget hole.
Because there is no way the General Assembly will go for this.
Bailing out fat cats
The goal, Haley said, is "a very business-friendly tax structure," which sounds like somebody's just a tad upset that the Chamber of Commerce had so little faith in her that it endorsed Democrat Vincent Sheheen for governor.
Fact is, South Carolina is already very competitive in the corporate income tax department. There are only three states without a corporate income tax and only four others with a lower rate than ours.
And here's the fine print: The corporate income tax is not really a tax on a business' income --just its profit. So while we're borrowing money from the feds to pay unemployment benefits, don't have enough money to lock up thugs or keep state troopers on the road, we are supposed to make sure businesses don't pay any -- any -- taxes on their profits?
Not to mention, the state can't afford to lose $300 million a year. But Haley told the Greenville News on Thursday that she could offset the loss by re-instating the tax on our groceries. Which sounds a lot like a corporate bailout, doesn't it?
With that kind of financial smarts, it's surprising Haley has had such trouble with her own income taxes.
Sitting on a lead
To be fair, Sheheen hasn't exactly stopped the presses with his high-falutin' ideas to get South Carolina back on track.
He wants to replicate the success of luring Boeing to North Charleston, which isn't a bad idea. At least it worked ... once.
It's certainly a better idea than giving away the third-largest source of state revenue -- which is what the corporate profits tax is -- when the state is, well, GOING BROKE.
But again, give Haley credit -- she is sticking to her game plan. She is sitting on her lead and keeping her mouth shut (so much for transparency). That's because she knows she doesn't have to do anything -- she has a Sarah Palin endorsement and some tea party groupies.
The second coming of Mark Sanford knows that buzzwords are more important than any real ideas. And she's so good at slinging the fiscal conservative lingo she can even propose raising taxes on every South Carolinian and get away with it.
Nikki knows she'll be fine if she follows the Sanford playbook. All she has to do is stay off the Appalachian Trail.