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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Browning Tags Ott Over Endorsement

Lehigh County Exec candidate Scott Ott recently accepted an endorsement form a group calling itself "Citizens Against Higher Taxes." That sounds harmless enough, and to an extremist conservative like Ott, he must have loved seeing all the local tea parties who have signed on as members of this coalition. But there's a problem with this organization, and another Lehigh County Exec candidate, Dean Browning, is driving the point home. This group wants to eliminate higher taxes by increasing income and sales taxes.

State income tax would go up 41%, from 3.07% to 4.34%. State sales tax would not just increase from 6% to 7%, but would cover items that are currently exempt, like clothing purchases.

“This is a massive shell game that won’t lower taxes," predicts Dean Browning. "Commissioner Ott should know that it is a fool’s errand to trust politicians in Harrisburg who say they will lower one tax by raising other taxes.”

Browning said the only way to truly cut taxes and spark economic growth is to reduce county spending and balance the budget. He pointed to his record on that front.

As Commissioner, Browning did spearhead a pay freeze and reformed the county compensation and pension system. This has saved taxpayers $6.7 million annually, most will agree. “I implemented real spending reforms that helped reduce the deficit by 65% over four years," notes Browning. "I also worked to change state law to empower Lehigh County voters to reject future debt for capital projects at the polls. I am proud to put that record up against anyone on either side of the aisle.”


Mark Baker said...

Browning - logic and common sense

Ott - uncompromising knee jerk reactions


Anonymous said...

Bernie, I would think you would be honest and tell people how your mancrush Browning is playing fast and loose with the facts,.

So I guess Browning wants to see higher Property taxes, right?

Anonymous said...

Mr. 16% grew a conscience and has the balls to feign taxpayer interest? What a POS. F you and your 16% Dean. Why don't you pay it for me asshole.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Dean Demo is pretending to be a Republican. Good luck in the primary.

Tea Party Footsoldier said...

Scrappleface is an uber bagger with right wing street cred and a mass media empire that puts Alex Jones to shame.

Dean N. Browning said...

Anon 2:31

I would love to see property taxes eliminated but the fact of the matter is that any such proposal in the hands of politicians is a shell game. We were promised that if casino gambling was allowed in PA that we would see a reduction in property taxes. Now we have casino gambling and property taxes are higher than ever. Another great example is NJ; forty years ago they implemented an income tax in exchange for a promise to "eliminate property taxes". Fast forward to today and NJ has some of the highest property taxes in the nation along with a substantial income tax. As I read the link about the plan proposed for PA, I see that they claim school property taxes will be eliminated, "except for a small portion that will be retained in each school district to retire the individual district’s outstanding long-term debt, typically 10% of the original school tax bill". How long do you think it would be before Harrisburg politicians find a way to increase that 10% to 20% and then to 40% and then back to the original amount. Then we will have a higher sales tax, a higher income tax and school property taxes to boot. At that point we will be no different than NJ.

Dean Browning

Dean N. Browning said...

Anon 2:32

Let's get the facts straight. In my four years as a Commissioner I never voted for a budget that increased taxes. Anyone who says otherwise is simply not telling the truth. What I did do was vote against a last minute, Washington style budget gimmick that would have required the County Executive to cut $19 million or 20% of the County's controllable spending covered by property taxes in order to eliminate the 16% increase and balance the budget. I didn't think that was feasible and I wasn't going to mislead anyone into thinking is was. However, Scott Ott and his group ran saying they had a specific plan to cut the $19 million and eliminate the 16%. And what are the results now that Ott is in office? Despite a seven-to-two Republican majority on the Board of Commissioners, Ott’s budget only cut spending by $500,000 (the smallest cut in the last 3 years) and reduced taxes by less than 3%. And Ott increased the structural deficit from $4.3 million to $7.3 million in the process.

Dean Browning

Anonymous said...

Browning lost me on this item and his posts above. Mr. Browning, I am tired of paying these ridiculous property taxes, i would rather pay an increases sales tax so ALL consumers payntheir fair share on what the purchase. Currently there is a massive undergroud economy of people who dont pay taxes, but do consume goods. This theory would capture those people.

Anonymous said...

6:49 is right on the money!

Using property taxes has become unfair, particularly for senior citizens. Way too many citizens get by without paying an adequate amount of support for resources simply because they do not own real estate.

Replacing property taxation with funding through sales taxes gets EVERYONE in the game, each only according to their ability to pay, based on what they are able to spend.

Let's also stop this nonsense belief that renters pay equal tax through their landlords. Baloney! the building owner and renter share the same tax together. Besides, two-unit dwellings ARE NOT taxed at double the rate as single units.

My only concern is if our politicians increase sales taxes and continue property taxation at current rates. What we need is a replacement of one tax revenue source with a more equitable source.

Anonymous said...

Whether we collect tax revenue through sales taxes or property taxes doesn’t address the real problem of the high cost of big government or the unsustainability(apparently not a real word) of our public pension system for state employees. Going to a new tax system before addressing this problem puts the cart before the horse and opens the door for less scrupulous legislators down the road to copy the New Jersey example right here in Pa. When that happens where will we move to escape even higher high taxes?

Scott Armstrong

Bernie O'Hare said...

I'd agree, Scott. This is tax shifting, not tax reductions. And a sales tax is a regressive tax that imposes a greater burden on low-income families who have no choice about purchasing clothing and shoes.

Anonymous said...

So Browning is AGAINST a plan that might result in LOWER property taxes.


If nothing else, he is consistent.

Anonymous said...

Those who support replacing property taxation with sales taxation, as I do, are seeking a more equitable way to cover payment obligations, NOT necessarily reduced taxes.

Clearly, a reduction of taxes paid by many will result with a new system that spreads the burden over more contributors.

Bernie, there is no additional burden placed upon lower income folks, IF taxation on additional items is not part of any revised plan. I'm not looking to pay NEW taxes on anything not currently taxed.

By the way, who among us, including rich people,
have a choice not to pay for clothing and food?

Anonymous said...

Bernie, dont forget higher sales taxes also incourages more shoplifting and thrift store purchases hurting retailers even more

Bernie O'Hare said...

If i make $10,000 per year and have to buy clothing and shoes every year, that is going to make more of a dent on me than someone who makes $100,000 per year. It is a regressive tax.

Anonymous said...


Would it make more sense to support lower property taxes if the result is that taxpayers pay even higher taxes through another tax vehicle? Of course not. Honest brokers in this election understand both candidates in this primary are against high taxes and big government. Let's raise the level of discourse.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Bottom line is that this is another negative campaign piece from Dean Browning. He tries to reverse the groups endorsement of Ott and turn it into Ott's endorsement of the group.

At least the group is looking for ways to reduce property taxes, a concept that is clearly elusive to Mr. Browning.

At the end of the day Browning's campaign comes down to twisting the truth and justifying Browning's actual vote that resulted in property taxes going up.

It's the same campaign as two years ago. Browning has learned nothing.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, using your logic, paying current sales tax on pencils is regressive, too. Thus, we need to eliminate taxation of pencils.

Again, no one seeks brand new taxable items, just a more equitable way of paying for items currently covered by property taxation.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It is negative campaigning, and that is fair so long as it is not personal. If I accept an endorsement from a group, and that group is advocating a tax shifting scheme that results in higher sales and income taxes, I think it is eminently fair to point it out.

But what disturbs me much more about Ott than that endorsement is his involvement in taking a meat cleaver to the LC budget and just chopping off $5 million intended for personnel That was irresponsible. So was threatening CDBG funding upon which many small municipalities rely for much needed infrastructure. If he wants to attack that, he should run for Congress.

LC's Board has become dysfunctional, thanks largely to Ott.

Anonymous said...

Agree its all a shell game and there are those willing to gamble.Not me.Lower the cost of pensions and bennys, maintaining co/pay health insurance.Writings on the wall, bennys gotta go and strict attendence rules enforced.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bernie, using your logic, paying current sales tax on pencils is regressive, too. Thus, we need to eliminate taxation of pencils."

There is a difference between things we can do without, like pencils or cars, and things that are essential to our survival, like clothing and shoes. We need clothing. We need shoes. A poor person has to buy those items, whether he likes it or not. He can skip the pencils. A person making $10,000 per year is going to be hurt much more by a $40 pair of shoes than someone earning $100,000 per year. It is a regressive tax that impacts low-income people much more severely than those with more disposable income.

Anonymous said...


You seem to have a personal axe to grind with Mr. Browning in which case nothing he does/says/stands for/or points out will please you.
There is nothing wrong with candidates questioning or criticizing the positions of their opponents. I think we can agree however that it is wrong and counter productive to the process to personally attack an opponent.
You accuse Dean Browning of "twisting the truth". Will you please explain?

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Browning's whole premise is created in his own mind.

He alleges that because Ott received the group's endorsement, Ott must also support the group's property tax plan.

The discussion of whether or not the plan makes sense is a separate issue, and not one that needs to involve Ott. The group obviously wants to see property taxes cut, a fact that Browning conveniently fails to mention. That's not surprising, given that Ott cut county taxes and Browning was the deciding vote that gave county taxpayers a 16% tax hike (which is another issue Browning tries to dance around).

Couple that with the unflattering, extreme close-up photo of Ott (I guess Browning didn't have an out of focus, grainy photo handy) and it's obvious Browning is taking things to the gutter.

LC voters deserve better than the way Browning runs his campaigns. He has a history of this and it didn't work a couple of years ago. He apparently didn't learn anything from that experience, which isn't a good trait for a politician.

Bernie O'Hare said...

So am I to understand that Ott has accepted the endorsement of this group, yet disagrees completely with their reason for existence? This is a single-issue group.

Also, I do not consider the picture of Ott to be unflattering. He is being identified with a sales tax and income tax hike. It would be better if he had actually issued a statement, but he did accept an endorsement from a group whose sole reason for existence is actually to raise income and sales tax.

I don't think voters will attach a lot of weight to it, but will attach some.

I am much more bothered by what Ott himself has done.

Anonymous said...

Ott's proposal is nothing more than a weighted tax on the poor, elderly, and middle class. Basic necessities like clothing and food take a greater percentage of poorer persons income.

I bet he supports subsidies for certain industries.

Ott "Over The Top"

Anonymous said...

The bottom line for me, I feel I can trust Browning.

Anonymous said...


Animus such as this is bad form and bad politics. You do your side no favor with such vitriol. Scott Ott and Dean Browning are capable conservatives. We need not run down one to promote the other.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see Mr. Ott run the same ad, but on HIS behalf, simply by changing a few words . . .

"Scott Ott wants to eliminate your school property tax!"

An equally valid interpretation, no?

Anonymous said...

Browning gets the 1984 Doublespeak Award. He says he never voted to increase taxes in the same paragraph he says he voted to raise taxes 16%. Mr. 16% is a real pisser. 16%. 16%. 16%. He voted for a 16% tax increase. Own it Dean.

Anonymous said...

how do you read that?

Anonymous said...

The sole reason for the group's existence is to raise sales and income taxes? Another poster calls it "Ott's proposal"?

It's almost comical, but things like this are exactly why Browning and his supporters have lost all credibility. Last time I checked, Ott has no power to raise sales or income taxes, at any level.

The group is endorsing Ott for Ott's role in cutting Lehigh County property taxes. They are not endorsing Browning for HIS role in RAISING property taxes. It's as simple as that, but Team Browning can't accept reality.

Anonymous said...

This is pure bullsit from Browning and his buddy O'Hare covering for him. If yu raise the current sales tax it will have no effect on food or clothing. However, loweirng the property tax on homeowners will be a significant savings for many low income people. Seniors will get a huge break.

So if you are poor and love to eat fast fodd and buy a lot of shit, you will pay the same as anyone else.

The law can be easily written to ensure that food and clothing are exempt and the new revenues must be targeted to specific counties of origin. In the age of computwrs Browning talks as though we still have men in green eyeshades and big ledger books.

Welcome ot the the 21st century. A great idea and one many Democrats would embrace. Try as you might Bernie, Ott is right and I don't even like Ott, I'm a
Demcorat but Browning is using a lot of words and explaining nothing.

Armstrong is using the argument you hate Bernie, ignore the good in search of the perfect. His global apprioach isn't going to help anyone in the next decade, since it isn't going to happen. Let us take a positive step rather than sit still because Armstorng is mad that we are we are not flying.

RS said...

This is purely a campaign issue. Senator Argyle campaigned to eliminate property taxes. After coasting to re-election, nothing.
Purely a gimmick.
Gotta luv real politicians. Ott is learning quickly.

Anonymous said...


Amen brother!

Allentown Democrat Voter

Bernie O'Hare said...

"An equally valid interpretation, no?"

Absolutely. He can defend this.

Bernie O'Hare said...

". If yu raise the current sales tax it will have no effect on food or clothing. However, loweirng the property tax on homeowners will be a significant savings for many low income people. Seniors will get a huge break."

Wrong, especially when you realize that many low-income people do not own and cannot afford to own real estate. Like Ott himself, now that I think about it.

A sales tax is a regressive tax. It does not matter to me whether Callahan is proposing it (he has) or some tea party group.

Anonymous said...

I am proud to put that record up against anyone on either side of the aisle . . .

Hinting at bipartisamism, if that is a word, also reflecting his candidate announcement theme, but I recall his prior words on this very same blog . . .

From an overall standpoint, I don’t think partisanship is necessarily a bad thing. It is the process where we bring out opposing points of view and work to translate those views in to policy

and he now says . . .

the role of County Executive requires a candidate who is principled

So which is it? And yes, I agree that one should avoid personal attacks and stay on the issues but I cant reconcile one who supports farm preservation but calls it a tax bailout two year later, or one who says he did not vote for a tax increase, but failed to vote for a less onerous amendment . . . calling the less onerous increase a political gimmick, thereby allowing the more onerous increase by default, or says its not ‘conservative’ to call for spending cuts which actually begat a 500K spending cut. True the process is ugly but I suggested specific cuts here on this very blog.

Where are Dean specific cuts. Fight the union . . . perhaps? Lets not head into an unfair labor practice by predisposing anti-union animosity! Failed leadership is not the union's fault!

By Dean's own admission, the partisan process can be a bit ugly, but it does work, when elected folks say and do what they say. Thats what I want!

I'll judge by the result not the words, which in his case, he gave us a 16% tax increase, zero years of a balanced budget and increased year over year spending.

But hey, I'm jaded. I worked to elect him the first time. Fool me once . . . but I see no principle in him today. Sorry.


Anonymous said...

Ott against increased property taxes

Dean Browning for increased poperty taxes.

There is your campaign. Simple really!

Anonymous said...

The only fair way to deal with school taxes is to tax everyone in PA equally. It is time to put an end to the extortion forced on property owners. I favor keeping my home for life.