Thursday, September 7, 2017

WI GOP legislators use tax code to punish and reward

Wisconsin Republican legislators as they finished writing a two-year state budget yesterday from the safety of gerrymandered seats and big donor-backed campaign committees showed us again why the phrase "compassionate conservative" is an oxymoron and a lie.

The same hard-edged, class-driven GOP-led Wisconsin legislative budget-writing committee

Alberta Darling at Ann Romney rally.JPG
Joint Finance Committee co-chair State Sen. Alberta Darling, (R-River Hills)
which threw a pile of last-minute tax breaks at specific businesses with good lobbyists, and who voted to dump $3 billion in tax-breaks, cash payments, plus environmental privileges and legal gifts to Foxconn, and made sure to eliminate a tax bracket for high-wage earners (a sweet tax cut, thank you, killing that jargonesque state Alternative Minimum Tax, or AMT), also removed from the budget about $20 million Gov. Walker had put into the budget to fund a minuscule tax credit boost to 130,000 lower-income Wisconsin working families.
The credit benefits low- to moderate-income working families, and Walker's plan would have primarily benefited qualifying parents with one child and newly married, dual-income couples. The credit was cut in the 2011-13 budget by about $24 million per year.   
My theory about how this got into the budget in the first place: Walker inserted it knowing the committee would take it out. 

It's an old executive budgeting trick: include low-hanging fruit that the legislative branch can delete and pump themselves as sharp-eyed fiscal hawks up before constituents come election time.

And it helps strengthen the GOP's divide-and-conquer strategy.

Note also that Walker submitted his first budget in 2011 with a cut to the same low-income workers' tax credit program - - thus breaking his promise to never raise any taxes - -  and strongly defended it.

And as I've been pointing out since 2011, Walker has again and again used the poor to dog-whistle his base.

You could say Walker this time played it brilliantly: He got some warm and fuzzy  coverage when he put the break for low-income workers into the budget, and if any one is unhappy now that it's out, well, blame the heartless 12-member GOP majority on the legislative Joint Committee on Finance whose names few can recall. 

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