Friday, February 12, 2010

Economic crack addiction, still taking its toll among Republicans.

Hey everyone,

I'm still awe-struck by the Republican's refusal to take responsibility for the economic mess we're in... and to keep coming back with the same worn out economic policies that landed us here.

[Scott Walker is the Milwaukee County executive now running against Tom Barrett (former Congressman and now Mayor of Milwaukee) for Governor.]

This week's column.

Scott Walker just says no to tax dollars

There must be something in the air, here in the unhappy-Republicans-who-aren't-being-listened-to post-partisan universe. Paul Ryan, at the federal level, and now Scott Walker here at home, are both heading back-to-the-future with Bush-style tax plans.

President Obama is not the popular guy he was, but remember that entire hopey-changie-thingie last year when Republicans, and their anti-regulation cut-taxes-for-the-rich shell game, were tossed out of power because their economic theories crashed the economy? People are starting to lose some of the hope, but the reasons for tossing out the Republican playbook haven’t gone away. Cut taxes on the rich, again? Um ... who dat?

In the meantime, the same meth-laced economic policies that put us into economic rehab are being rewrapped in shiny new tin foil by Ryan and now Walker. It’s deja vu all over again, to quote the Great Yogi. Listening to their financial justifications is like hearing old junkies reminisce about the early days of their addictions when they got to go to great parties and, quarter after quarter, enjoyed the rush of short term economic ecstasy noodling their brains into pulp and wiping out pension funds across the country. “You know,” they stammer at us today, “there’s no reason we shouldn’t try to go back there.”

If you have friends or relatives with addiction issues, you’ll recognize the symptoms of denial wrapped in nostalgia for a past that didn’t exist, except at the other end of an economic crack-pipe. Let’s save Ryan for another time – maybe by then the national Republican leadership will actually acknowledge what he’s up to. What about Walker’s plan for our tax dollar?

Well, if we can believe the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's numbers, Walker’s plan to buy Wisconsin an economic “fix” – by giving tax breaks that benefit mainly corporations and people at the very top – will double Wisconsin’s nearly $2 billion budget deficit. He wants to cut income taxes for everyone earning over $225,000 a year; that’ll come to $287 million. He wants to re-write the law to let companies avoid state taxes by maintaining shell-offices in states that don’t have a corporate income tax; that’ll run us another $375 million. He wants to repeal the current code for tax deductions on capital gains to save those making over $200k some dough as well as help out the wealthiest folks in the state by eliminating any tax on retirement income, no matter how much they're raking in; those two will cost us about $1.1 billion. Sounds pretty good, if you’re in the top 5 percent. For the rest of us, maybe not so much.

The rest of us pay taxes in order to get services from the government we couldn’t afford as individuals. In order to try to keep his promised deficit at the $2 billion mark he’s going to have to wade through those services with a chain saw. Some of the obvious targets would be Badger Care or maybe firing 14,000 school teachers or how about cutting the shared revenue program with municipalities (which would result in spectacular property tax rate increases in order to keep paying for police and fire prevention) or, in a notion sure to find support in the crazier corners of the Legislature, cut funding to the entire University of Wisconsin System.

But, of course, no Legislature will let him – and he must know that. So where will the money come from to support all of his tax cuts? The same place junkies always get the money – they steal it from their parents or their kids. Or they borrow it from their Uncle Sam.

Except here, too, we have a problem. Walker has jumped into the Sarah Palin hot tub and, probably giddy from the bubbles, wants us to reject any federal Recovery Act funds. He says he doesn’t want Uncle Sam’s help.

Here’s why that’s stupid: It’s our money.

Wisconsin has received $2.76 billion in funds from the Recovery Act, $2.76 billion Walker would reject, given the chance. But if rejected, the money would not magically return to our pockets. It would end up in Illinois or California. Progressives are often chided for being out of touch with reality, but no progressive ever refused his own money. Walker, by contrast, seems to think this is actually a good idea.

Fortunately, even though he’s announced all of this publicly, he’s still running for governor. Its a nice way to help guarantee another term of progressive values and true fiscal responsibility in the governor’s mansion in Madison, the kind of responsibility that puts the people of Wisconsin ahead of economic crack dealers.

If only we had someone to run for governor who’s managed large budgets, maybe been a mayor or a well-respected congressman, and who espouses the traditional values of old-time Wisconsin Progressivism. That sort of person might be able to fight against the economic crack addiction young Walker is clearly still working through.

Oh yeah, Tom Barrett is running for governor.

We’ll be OK.



Free Lunch said...

I understand why Republicans keep selling voodoo economics. It gets votes. My question is why it gets votes.

Reagan backed off from the total silliness of Grover Norquist's demand that taxes be cut forever and acted as if he knew perfectly well which side of the revenue curve American taxes were on (that doesn't mean that Art Laffer isn't still getting paid to say foolish things on the WSJ Opinion page though).

GHWB was smart enough to increase taxes when needed, even though it cost him re-election.

W screwed up the economy completely by actually trying to do what Reagan only promised. Was he really as ignorant as he appears to have been? Did he really drink the propaganda koolaid that Republicans were selling to the credulous?

Why are Americans so willing to be bamboozled by Republicans?

Does anyone think Scott Walker is as foolish as George W Bush?

Kraig said...

I'm pretty sure I disagree with you, however I can't really tell due to your wierd fixation with using drug references ?? Next time try using real words to get your point across better.

Cutting taxes on businesses and corporations leads to a stronger bottom line which leads to more jobs.

Obviously, as California and Wisconsin have shown, higher taxes and stronger corporate regulation lead to bankrupt state governments, huge unemployment, and expanding handouts.

Grant said...

Cutting taxes on businesses and corporations leads to a stronger bottom line which leads to more jobs

If I were a tendentious blowhard, I could just say a cursory examination of corporate tax rates and economic performance from 1950 onward proves that to be naive nonsense.

But since I'm a nice guy, I'll just say it's a lot more complicated than that.

Mpeterson said...

What Grant said, Kraig.

And that's why I kept spinning back to the metaphor of addiction -- reason doesn't explain their actions, whereas the fairy dust of spectacular profits without having to take any personal responsibility for the consequences, explains almost all of it.

Matt said...

Wow, you really must have done a deep dive into the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's numbers for this column. Or maybe you just got really lazy and (almost verbatim) copied the Jan. 19 press release from the crack smokers at One Wisconsin Now. Comparing your column's citations vs the content in the One Wis Now release, I'd have to lean toward the latter.

Mpeterson said...

It would have be easier simply to copy the press release, but I'm not allowed to do that. I had to check the OWN numbers against the LFB figures... my editor always insists I can point to an 'official' source for any of the numbers they publish.

Is it that you don't like the LFB numbers? I can understand why some of Walker's supporters might be a little annoyed to see anything like that in print.

Did you find that both OWN *and* the LFB numbers were wrong? If so, let me know and I'll be happy to fix 'em.

Mpeterson said...

Oh, and Matt -- it's actually pretty easy to dig through most of the state budget stuff once you get used to it so, it's more like seining for smelt than diving really.

Matt said...

Hmmm. But you still use OWN's figures to drive your point, but you cite LFB as the source. The point is, you make it sound like the non-partisan LFB has created the figures you cite; however, it's actually OWN's biased math based on LFB figures. Anyone with an agenda could use LFB figures to make a biased claim. So no, this isn't about being annoyed or disliking the LFB figures. It's about deceiving the good people who read your entertaining column. Using your words in a previous post, don't spread around a bunch of fairy dust without taking a little responsibility for the consequence.

Mpeterson said...

Matt, if you think their math is off, tell me *where* and I'll amend.

Matt said...

Sorry, you're missing my point. I understand how tough it must be for a liberal to be intellectually honest. Since the figures you cite in your column are taken verbatim from OWN, why didn't you cite OWN as the source and not the LFB?

Kraig said...


Historically, which countries imposed continuous tax increases on private business for the sole purpose of growing the government ? Which of those actually worked long-term ?

Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal - all countries who soon will be bankrupt. All countries who have huge handouts, huge numbers of government employees, huge unions and huge laziness. It may feel good to say 'we should be more like Europe' except that Europe is a failure.

Only those who are not currently on the government's dole will be taken seriously when answering. I'm tired of watching public sector employees embracing tax hikes which support pay raises for is getting expensive and boring.

Kraig said...

Hey Grant, thanks for the insightful response....well put.

Mpeterson said...

Well, if you don't trust me, you shouldn't ask me to do your homework for you. Typically one cites original sources rather than others quoting from those sources, even when you end up pulling out the same material.

Grin, as for intellectual honesty, do you have a job where a couple of different panels look over your shoulder throughout your career to make sure you don't screw anything up? And on top of wicked professionals scrutinizing my work, I get evaluated by 100's of students every year. How about you?

Besides, look: I'd only have to be dishonest if I was afraid of the truth and, since I've never had to be afraid of the truth, the way most of the Right Wing has been for the past 30 years, this hasn't been an issue for me.

You must really not like these numbers since you're trying to divert attention away from them by attacking my integrity.

I've already told you if I've made a mistake -- the same mistakes you suggest OWN made -- then point them out and I'll be more than happy to correct them.

Mpeterson said...

Kraig, must be my head cold, but I can't tell if you think Grant's comment is a good one or what? I was agreeing with him. Or were you being sarcastic.

Here's where I stand on tax hikes helping me out... If I didn't work in the university or the school system, I'd still support them since they are, demonstrably, the key to growth in any economy. If you'd like to save a few bucks for a new iPad by making dumber citizens, that's your right... but I'm not going to help you. I don't have an iPad and I'm happy to forego it if I know that our money is being spent well on preparing a next generation of kids who are smarter than we were.

Kraig said...

Mark, Mark, Mark - where does the money for the tax hikes you support come from and then where does it go to ? How many of those dollar 'Help the Kids'.

Barb said...

Scott Walker. The epitomy of GOP partisan politics, even though -- as the leader of Milwaukee County -- he's "nonpartisan." We won't catch him accepting any of that Obama-tainted stimulus money for high-speed rail. No-sir-eeee. Who needs to ride a train anyway? Certainly not those car-less inner city residents who might want to apply for jobs in western suburbs.