Tax reforms are most difficult to do. For one thing, the constituency for tax reforms, especially those relating to new taxes or increasing tax rates, is hard to find. For another thing, precisely because the constituency is narrow, legislators avoid being supporters, much less being champions, of tax reforms.
We have seen, for example, how Ralph Recto, who sponsored the law that increased the valued-added tax (VAT) from 10 percent to 12 percent, was trounced in the 2007 Senate elections. He has regained his position by joining the Noynoy Aquino bandwagon and by doing a complete turn-around—packaging himself as a populist by calling for measures (say, reduced oil prices) that make the whole population, especially the rich, happy, even if such measures aggravate the government’s fiscal problems.
And in the 2010 elections, Mar Roxas was painted as a firm supporter of the increase in the VAT rate. On the other hand, rival Jojo Binay projected himself as the creator of a socialist Makati, which he intends to replicate all over the country. This is Binay’s Makati that offers cash gifts, free movies, free groceries to senior citizens, even to those residing in Dasmariñas and Forbes Park, that has a state-of-the art hospital and modern clinics that are accessible to all, that provides not only free education but also free uniforms, textbooks, and school supplies to children.