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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Common Sense and It's Not a Paine

By Keith Schmitz

It’s a little refreshing to see someone on the other side of us play with facts once in a while.

Case in point are the op-eds Serigraph CEO John Torinus that most of the time run in the Sunday Milwaukee Journal Business section. I don’t agree with him all the time. For example he has done some interesting things with HSA’s at his company. But I doubt if many business people have the depth of thought or consideration he posses to not make this just another burden on the middle class and another dodge for employers to compensate employees what they’re worth.

Today he utters Wisconsin conservative blasphemy by pointing out that while our taxes rank high, our spending puts us roughly in the middle level for states. I detonated back bencher Frank Lasee on that very point last week.

John points out:

As the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance has pointed out, we are about in the middle of the states when fees and other sources of revenue for the state are thrown into the mix. In other words, Wisconsin is about an average state when all revenues for state and local government are taken into account. Ditto for total spending per capita.

So we don’t have a spending problem.

But of course our state’s proprietor of “Fantasy Island” Lasee doesn’t want to have those figures enter into the discourse because it messes with his fetish.

John goes on to suggest raising fees, imposing higher consumption taxes and “holding the line” on expenses. As for the first suggestions, talk to your friends in other states who don’t have income taxes and ask them what it like to get a license plate or about their sales taxes. You gun-tottin’ types may not be too thrilled to see your hunting tags skyrocket. John leaves out that we have among the lowest corporate taxes, so how about raising taxes a tad on upper incomes to bring in revenues.

For those of you who contemplate bellowing the blues about paying more taxes note the operational phrase “on upper incomes.” Your Republican buddies treat you like rubes with the phrase “tax cuts” they leave out the rest of the statement which is “tax cuts for the wealthy.”

As for holding the line, what everyone seems to forget is there is a lot of back-pressure from rapidly increasing healthcare for public employees. For those you who plan to protest on this one, riddle me this. Instead of going after the “Cadillac” employee healthcare packages, why don’t we demand this for everyone? Trust me. You’re worth it.

As for John’s notion of cutting the estate tax in Wisconsin to spur angel investors, I don’t think these folks necessarily throw in the state pot to encourage the growth of risk ventures and are more likely to continue to salt it away for their heirs. Rather, I’d rather take a look at what other states who are doing well in germinating new companies such as Minnesota and see what makes their garden grow.

We all know this “death tax” concept is bogus. You pay taxes on the money you get. The dead person of course is in no way capable of spending this money. The heirs on the other hand are. There are just 600 families in Wisconsin paying any sort of estate tax the way it is, and even they are not left uncomfortable to say the least once they pay their dues.

By the way, like Frank Sinatra I am having a second retirement. In this case from this blog space. Thanks Jay for letting me take my shots here and for all you who showed up to comment, pro and con.

I invite you to dog my heels over at where I will be posting. For the next 65 days I will be working very hard to get Bryan Kennedy into Congress and to stop the Sensenbrenner embarrassment.

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