Why ‘The Pledge’ should not be scrapped

It’s the key to the ‘New Hampshire Advantage’
Tom Thomson

Tom Thomson

Recently, I was amused by a letter to the editorin NH Business Review titled, “Isn’t it time to scrap The Pledge,” written by Arnie Arnesen of Concord, formally of Orford, my hometown.

In her letter, Arnesen says, “What better time than now to question New Hampshire’s political shackle known as “The Pledge”? The 50-year-old tax pledge, concocted by two reactionary conservatives, represents the ‘for me, not you’ mentality that prohibits healthy and constructive growth.”

Arnie must have missed all the great news of the recent record-breaking growth and prosperity with an all-time record of those employed under Gov. Chris Sununu and President Trump just before the coronavirus hit our economy.

The only reason I’m responding to this letter is that she is calling out my late father, former Gov. Meldrim Thomson, who served New Hampshire for three terms from 1973 to 1979 and is not here to defend himself, and I know he would have done a much better job than me.

Yes, it was my father who galvanized “The Pledge” in New Hampshire. Every governor, Democrat or Republican, since has taken “The Pledge” to get elected, except for one time, when Gov. Jeanne Shaheen ran for a third term and refused to take “The Pledge.” Shaheen won her third term, but her push for a statewide sales tax went down in defeat on the morning of April 19, 2001, and I believe my dad waited until the sales tax was defeated before he passed away that afternoon.

“The Pledge” my father believed in was very simple. As a candidate for governor you should be honest with the voters of New Hampshire and tell them, “Yes, I support a sales or income tax (or both)” or “No, I oppose a sales or income tax.” My father always opposed a sales and income tax and was famous for his slogan, “Low Taxes are the Result of Low Spending.”

Because of “The Pledge” we have the “New Hampshire Advantage,” meaning no sales or income tax, and because of that folks from all our neighboring states flock to New Hampshire to purchase everything, which brings in millions upon millions of dollars to our state’s economy. In addition, many move here to enjoy the low-tax environment.

Governor Thomson left a record during his three terms that most elected officials could only dream of:

  • Had a surplus every year as Governor
  • He had a triple-A state bond rating, which was the best in New England.
  • New Hampshire had the lowest unemployment in New England, which was 3.4%.
  • New Hampshire had the lowest state gross debt in New England.
  • New Hampshire had the lowest state and local taxes per capita in New England.

Remember, Arnie Arnesen, the progressive liberal who ran for governor in 1992 and refused to take “The Pledge” lost to Republican Steve Merrill, who took “The Pledge” and won by 56.02% to Arnie Arnesen’s dismal 39.95%, and Miriam Luce received 4%. Then in the governor’s race in 2002, Democrat Mark Fernald also famously refused to take “The Pledge“ and supported an income tax and ran against Republican Craig Benson, who won by 58.62% to Mark Fernald’s 38.21% and John Babiarz received 2.94%. To me it seems pretty clear that not taking “The Pledge” is a good way to get less than 40% of the vote in New Hampshire.

Progressive liberal Arnie Arnesen once again is wrong. If you want to be a New Hampshire governor, be sure to take “The Pledge” and promise the taxpayers before they vote that you will veto a sales or income tax if it comes to your desk. If you do so, then everyone will enjoy the “New Hampshire Advantage.”

Tom Thomson is a resident of Orford.

Categories: Government, Opinion