Tax Hikes Don't Kill Jobs. Capitalists Do.

Yesterday I got a barrage of emails from the National Republican Congressional Committee. It wanted me to inform the citizenry about [insert any Massachusetts Democrat’s] plan to support President Obama’s budget and his “job-killing tax hikes.” Job-killing tax hikes, you say? Interesting. Because from where I sit, tax cuts in Massachusetts have killed plenty of them.

Yesterday brought news of Boston’s own State Street. It’s getting an $885 million tax refund this year, and is among the lucky firms that enjoy President Bush’s neo-gilded-age tax cuts and President Obama’s bank bailout. Despite profits of $1.5 billion last year, State Street cut 5 percent of its work force, or 1,400 people. In 2008 and 2009, it cut 2,200 more jobs.

Then there’s Bank of America. It paid no federal income tax last year, or in 2009. And yet over the last four years, it’s shed 2,000 jobs in Massachusetts.

Then there’s Fidelity. Despite generous tax benefits from the state, the mutual fund giant plans to move 1,100 jobs out of the commonwealth by next year.

I’m not trying to sell you a subscription to Pravda here. But the millions, and, more likely, billions in tax dollars that Beacon Hill doesn’t take in from such firms, and the jobs, and further taxable dollars, that these same firms move out of the state — all this stuff has a curious effect on our budget and the people who draft it. You get a Speaker of the House, the son of a blue-collar track worker, proposing a drastic reduction in union members’ benefits because union members can’t threaten to take their jobs and work elsewhere if their terms aren’t met. That’s a tactic of the monied. And that’s a tactic against which no politician parries because too many “unemployment-rate-climbs” headlines re-elects exactly no one. So we instead have Democrats fighting their long-time backers and Republicans diverting the public’s focus by saying tax hikes are borderline evil and stupid besides.

This mantra’s been chanted enough times to still the thinking of the best politicians in our state. Last week, even Massachusetts’ most progressive leaders said they’d rather cut education funding than raise corporate tax rates.

And you wonder why Brian Moynihan has that maniacally gleeful look about him these days.