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Monday, July 10, 2006

Paul Soglin Smacks Down WMC

I'm still catching up a bit, but I wanted to make sure I got in today with a couple of posts from former Madison mayor Paul Soglin who, as I predicted, had some words for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the pro-business, anti-tax lobby here in the state. WMC makes a habit of touting studies that claim Wisconsin's business climate is horrible (their solution: cut taxes!); I kind of think they have just the one press release, and all they do is change the name of the study on it.

In this post, Soglin wonders why WMC didn't mention a particular study:
BHI's Competitiveness Report attempts to identify the qualities that allow some areas to excel in income generation and the qualities that prohibit other areas from attaining the same level of competitiveness. This question quickly leads on to others: How can these qualities be measured? What standard should be used to determine whether a state is competitive or not? Indeed, why is it even interesting to measure competitiveness? {. . .] Wisconsin ranks a lofty 16th in this report in 2005.
Top third, eh? Ususally conservative groups talking about Wisconsin in the top third mean tax burden, or maybe per-pupil spending down to your local public school. But here we are, competitive and ready to rock any business who wants to drop by. Soglin also makes some good points about why we don't rank higher--and not all of them have to do with high taxes.

In this other, more damning post, Soglin points out the idiocy of WMC and similar groups nation-wide. Well, maybe not idiocy, but certainly their ideological blindness:
I decided to see if other states had similar outfits bashing, smashing, and lashing out in an effort to smear their state government, in a sinister, malevolent effort to shift taxes to ordinary citizens. [. . .]

My methodology is flawless. I used only studies offered by right-wing foundations, or the shill front groups trying to disgrace the home state. I took seven studies and looked at the bottom 12 or 13 states in each ranking. The studies covered taxes, so called 'tort reform', overall taxes, business taxes, and the overall cost of doing business.

The finding is very simple.

78% of the states are ranked in the bottom quarter in one or more of the studies.
In other words, throw a dart at a map of the US and you'll almost certainly hit a state where some group or another (in Wisconsin, it's WMC) is claiming that their state is in the bottom quarter for economic competitiveness or tax climate or something. And in every case, those groups will sound their one note: Cut taxes!

When do we get so sick of this transparent crap that we stop listening? Soon, I hope.

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