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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Let's Split -- Torinus Has Trouble With Barack's Economics

By Keith Schmitz

Though John Torinus, president of Serigraph and former Milwaukee Journal editor is a Republican, he is a very forward thinking and reasonable guy. We need more Republicans like him and in many ways his insight and foresight are admirable. He is a glass half full type of guy though sometimes you have to wonder about what is in the glass.

Republicans who went after Barack Obama’s remarkable speech, “A More Perfect Union,” from last week on race and religion, did it on the basis of race and religion. Torinus used his special expertise in business to dissect the speech.

The headline (though it might have been written by a copy writer) was instantly over the top – “Obama speech was full of anti-business rhetoric” – because Torinus goes off to pick out a couple of passages that were at the most three minutes out of the total 37 minute run time.

Right off the bat Torinus indicts the speech from an economic point of view as being divisive.

Well, this was the point. Obama in addressing our differences in race wanted to point out that it is our economic problems that in fact unify us. The GOP has been playing the race card for years to water down the political impact within the working and middle class by using the diversion of racial differences.

Then Torinus goes on to open up a rhetorical Burger King drive-thru by serving up one whopper after another in going after Obama’s statement that we have “"a corporate culture rife with inside dealing; questionable accounting practices and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many."

First, the word "rife" is not accurate, not even to describe Wall Street. As could have been pointed out during his time in this state, no Wisconsin corporate executive in recent memory has been charged with corruption.
Not unless we rule out Dick Strong. Of course not everyone on Wall Street is engaged in inside dealing, but we have more than enough of it that we now have the sub-prime debacle that is sending shock waves through our economy.

As for questionable accounting, with a few notorious exceptions, the business world is on the mountaintop compared to the funny money used in government accounting. Point in case: the crazy-quilt patches on the Wisconsin budget working its way through the Legislature.
If that wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t have Sarbanes-Oxley. As far as the favorite conservative bogey man – government – the budget is victim of too much money in the legislative process. Something the GOP wants to keep in the process.

Obama is right about the infestation of lobbyists in Washington, D.C., but it isn't just business interests that lobby the good senators. There are plenty of anti-business lobbyists there, too.
True. But the big money is being wielded by the business lobbyists. Why else do we have the watering down of our government food inspections, a carload of business welfare and legislation custom-made for an industry or even individual company? Look at the recent transaction where John McCain’s lobbyist friends pushed through an Air Force contract for European aircraft maker Airbus over domestic Boeing.

His stance against policies that "favor the few over the many" raises the issue of a growing disparity between the very rich and the balance of the country. While a case can be made for a more progressive tax system, it has to take into account that the top taxpayers already carry a hugely disproportionate share of the tax burden. The bottom third pays nothing or next to nothing. The poorest get money back from the government.
That one is a half-pound whopper. You have to go back to the days of the Robber Barons to find a time when wealth in this country has been so under taxed, especially not smart when we have a war to fight.

Not only are the poor hit up for taxes and sales taxes take a large bite out of their incomes, the statement that the “poor get money back from the government” is totally bogus when considering the shredding of the social safety net in this country. Most certainly health care costs and high fuel prices gobble up what ever benefits bestowed on these lucky duckies.

In addition, Wisconsin has higher combined corporate tax rates than in any developed country.
Where did that come from? The taxes corporations pay in this state have diminished over the years to the point where now Wisconsin ranks among the lowest ten states in corporate taxation. The tax hell that conservatives rail about was brought to you in part because of the tiny wedge in the overall state pie.

As he concludes, Torinus points out “Obama's philosophy on race and religion is unifying. His philosophy on economics is far from collaborative.”

Let’s keep in mind that the GOP has worked to flip out the race cards faster than a pit boss for the vary purpose of divide and conquer when it comes to economic reform.

The last thing corporations and other members of the upper class want is “a more perfect union.”

I’m not talking labor unions necessarily. But that would not be a bad thing either.

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