Shift and Shaft

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A policy wherein federal (or state) elected officials cut taxes and spending on desirable state (or local) programs, leaving state (or local) elected officials to either cut spending for the programs or raise taxes to continue them. Politically, such a policy allows federal (or state) elected officials to run on the popularity of tax cuts, while insulating them from the responsibility for their unpopular effects. This is the "shift."

In addition to being cowardly, it is generally unjust. Such a policy disporportionately affects the poor, as they are simultaneously most in need of spending and least able to generate revenue. Further, even when the poor are not in disproportionate need of spending, the shift ensures that they bear a greater burden of the taxes, due to regressive taxes employed most state and local governments. This is the "shaft."

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