Thursday, June 14, 2012

Walker Budget Raised Taxes On Lower-Earners: New Pound Of Flesh Eyed

Despite the denials, the same Scott Walker budget that contributed to months of job losses statewide also contained tax increases totaling $49 million on lower-income Wisconsinites - - plus a 'just-cuz-you're poor-$20-monthly dunning - - and also cut taxes on some capital gains and business income.

The Walker machine spun on, claiming in statements and ads that the budget was balanced without raising taxes, even though the information about the tax increases came from the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, as reported by PolitiFact.

Overall, Walker’s budget included a modest $34 million reduction, mainly through business tax breaks. His plan included $83 million in tax cuts, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, but that was offset by $49 million in tax increases.
The bureau determined that Walker included three tax increases in the budget. As we noted in our Walk-O-Meter item on the promise:

"The largest involved a reduction in a state tax credit for low-income working families, known as the earned income credit. A tax credit reduces the amount of tax you owe.

"In this case, the earned income tax credit is in place for both state and federal taxes. It’s refundable, so individuals with little or no income tax liability may still receive the credit.

"A second tax increase, the fiscal bureau said, is stopping the inflationary adjustment of the state’s Homestead Tax Credit -- the property tax break that appears as a credit on income tax forms for low-income homeowners and renters. The bureau calculated that change would increase taxes by an estimated $8.1 million."

Truth is no longer an essential element of governing, as Walker's record according to the fact-checking service PolitiFact tilts heavily to the false side of the ledger.

Now comes former Reince Priebus roommate State Rep. Robin Vos, (R-Rochester), the presumptive new speaker of the state Assembly, who is talking about a revamped tax code in Wisconsin, and asks...
Is it fair. Does it make sure that every single person in society who benefits pays a portion, so that not some people pay the entire load for those who benefit but don't have to put anything into it.
That's nothing more than a spite-driven, divide-and-conquer, class warfare/Tea Party-inspired talking point and national legend: that the wily, tax-code savvy lower-class has buffaloed everyone and is making off with the public treasury.

We've been hearing versions of this since Ronald Reagan campaigned against welfare queens.  I first heard it in junior-high school when a kid told our eight-grade civics class that "Negroes on welfare all drive Cadillacs."

So while many low-income Wisconsinites have been beaten down by corporate out-sourcing, or Bain Capital-style raiding, or swindling mortgage bankers and generations of racial discrimination and women's pay inequality - - and those numbers will expand if 'right-to-work' comes here as Walker promised his Beloit billionaire backer - - Vos wants another pound of flesh from people buried at the bottom.

It's a cynical ploy: Vos will play on middle-class fears by convincing people already under pressure there that it is the poor who threaten them, not people at the top the data say are making off (thanks to policy-makers like Walker) with a bigger piece of the pie:
... the release of a report in October 2011 by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office confirm[s] that income inequality had grown in the United States. According to the report, the top 1 percent of earners more than doubled their share of the nation’s income over the previous three decades.

In addition, the report said, government policy has become less redistributive since the late 1970s, doing less to reduce the concentration of income.

“The equalizing effect of federal taxes was smaller” in 2007 than in 1979, as “the composition of federal revenues shifted away from progressive income taxes to less-progressive payroll taxes,” the budget office said.

Also, it said, federal benefit payments are doing less to even out the distribution of income, as a growing share of benefits, like Social Security, goes to older Americans, regardless of their income.

In its report, the budget office found that from 1979 to 2007, average inflation-adjusted after-tax income grew by 275 percent for the 1 percent of the population with the highest income. For others in the top 20 percent of the population, average real after-tax household income grew by 65 percent.

By contrast, the budget office said, for the poorest fifth of the population, average real after-tax household income rose 18 percent.

And for the three-fifths of people in the middle of the income scale, the growth in such household income was just under 40 percent.
Vos is fueling the notion that that people living in poverty have to be slapped into productivity and good citizenship because they are living high off our money.

His message: Let's put a stop to their shopping sprees at Goodwill, deals on Dollar Store winter window plastic sheeting and fancy dining on double-coupon white bread and bologna.

Do you think life is an endless buffet of free beer and brats?


Anonymous said...

What I don't get is why they even bother with all of this? It seems there is a kind of voter who will believe anything, so why not just say
something like, "the rich shouldn't have to pay any taxes because they have more money". Some voters would buy it... why all the complications?

Bill Sell said...

Or, another bullet point might run: "The rich deserve tax breaks because all their money shows they worked harder to get it." Any day now, from a talking head near you.