Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sales Tax Referendum Will Be A Tough Campaign

Newspaper editorial writers make campaign endorsements and write frequently about elections - - and now the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's editorial board, as a strong supporter of the one-cent sales tax November referendum ballot question, is about to experience a campaign rather close-up.

That is because Scott Walker, conservative talk radio and the other drown-government-in-a-bathtub ideologues will run their campaign at the Milwaukee County board majority that put the question on the ballot and also against the newspaper.

For the Right in this town, this is the Daily Double: they can run against government and against the newspaper, their favorite daily target (for some radio talkers, it's a fake conflict, for ratings only).

The paper's Sunday editorial (again linked here) lays out a cogent case for the additional penny sales tax, and explains how sales taxes do lower property taxes.

But it's a lengthy, detailed and complicated matter of economics to explain, and as candidates learn, making those kinds of arguments work in a campaign is an uphill slog.

That's why soundbites, bumper-stickers and catchy little slogans are so effective - - tricks of the trade mastered by Walker and his buddies on the radio.

I give the paper credit for sticking its editorial neck out on this issue. It's important.

And like a lot of campaigns, it won't be fun, because as H. L. Mencken observed (at least, I think it's Mencken), "politics ain't beanbag."

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