Unfortunately for Dylan Ratigan, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
The MSNBC anchor nearly stumbled onto a valid point on Thursday's "Dylan Ratigan Show" – reporting that California's new Internet sales tax could cost thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue – until he proposed solving this dilemma with a national Internet sales tax.
"If we're going to do something like this," wondered Ratigan. "Should it not be applied on a national level? Maybe a national online retail sales tax."
Teeing up his daily "Mega Panel" segment, Ratigan correctly pointed out that the $317 million per year in tax revenue proponents say the law will generate will be offset by Amazon terminating its contracts with thousands of in-state affiliates, which will result in an exodus of jobs and capital from California and could end up chasing away more revenue than it generates.
Ratigan delivered his rant just days after his former employer, CNBC, ranked California 32nd overall in its annual "America's Top States for Business" report, which was released before the so-called "Amazon tax" took effect. The report, which noted California's 11.7 percent unemployment rate, ranked the Golden State 47th in "cost of doing business" and 50th in "business friendliness."
Imposing a national Internet sales tax would only nationalize what Ratigan himself admitted will be a disastrous state policy. If state law is driving online retailers like Amazon and Overstock out of California, then adopting this law at the federal level would just pressure companies to take their business, jobs, and tax revenue overseas, or at least across the border into Canada or Mexico.
As much as Ratigan bemoans outsourcing, his job-killing policy prescriptions belie his class-warrior rhetoric.
A transcript of Ratigan's introduction to his daily "Mega Panel" segment can be found below:
Dylan Ratigan Show
June 30, 2011
4:13 p.m. ET
DYLAN RATIGAN: California shoppers, open your wallets, the state will soon start collecting sales tax on everything that you buy online. Governor Jerry Brown signing the so-called Amazon tax, went into law yesterday. The deal is expected to raise $317 million a year for the state. Amazon and others threatening to cut ties with California so they can remain tax exempt. Who wants to pay taxes after all? So we have a law that's supposed to generate much-needed revenue – taxes on retail sales on the Internet – but it could end up actually driving 25,000 small businesses out of the state, taking jobs along with them, and the $152 million that they pay in state income tax. Which makes me wonder, if we're going to do something like this, should it not be applied on a national level? Maybe a national online retail sales tax.
--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.