I can't - and won't - count the times where I've pointed out that increasing the GST is probably the best way of raising revenues to deal with a federal structural deficit whose size is almost exactly equal to the revenues foregone by the 2 points the Conservatives cut from the GST. And I have sung - and will continue to sing - its merits as an efficient, growth-friendly tax.
But every time I do this, someone invariably points out that "everyone knows" that increasing the GST is ballot-box poison, that there's no way it will ever happen and that I should take this into account. I understand why people keep telling me this, but I really don't see why I should pay attention.
Firstly, I don't buy it. It's not clear to me that the Conservatives owe their 2006 victory to the GST cut, and governments in Quebec and Nova Scotia recently increased the TVQ/HST without - as far as I can tell - a great amount of fuss. Voters are adults, and can generally be counted on to make adult decisions if offered adult choices.
And even if voters do have an irrational aversion to the GST, I don't see why I should be internalising this tendency. When politicians choose to sacrifice evidence-based policy in favour of electoral gain, they should be called on it.
Finally, it's important to keep the option alive in policy debates. If people are afraid to even mention the GST, then it falls off the table. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.