If Republicans want to be the party of Main Street and let Democrats continue to be the party of big government and its natural ally, big business, there's one tax they should embrace. As Christine Gregoire and Sally Jewell write in today's Wall Street Journal, government tax policies discriminate against Main Street by giving online businesses an unnatural competitive advantage that, absent government intrusion, they wouldn't otherwise have. As a result, the "bricks-and-mortar retailer" (to use the authors' term) suffers. Republicans would do well to end this unfairness in the tax code.
Gregoire and Jewell write, "Imagine a customer who walks into a sporting-goods store and asks for help in buying the coolest new running shoes. An attentive salesperson spends half an hour with the customer to find the most comfortable fit, the best performance and the right price. Just as the salesperson thinks she has found the ideal pair, the customer decides to make the $100 purchase via smartphone from an online competitor who doesn't charge sales tax."
In espousing a sales tax on online purchases, Gregoire and Jewell are also excited about the increased tax revenues that would go to state and local governments. But the reason for conservatives to back this proposal has to do with basic fairness and valuing a society in which actual people in actual stores with actual storefronts can sell products to potential customers without having to overcome a government-imposed hurdle that their online competitors don't face. If Main Street can't compete on an even playing field, that's one thing. But its businesses shouldn't have to overcome government-imposed disadvantages, as they do now.