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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

See, I told you it was a gimmick

A couple of weeks back, I wrote, talking about Republican efforts to pass a TABOR-style amendment to Wisconsin's constitution,
Legislators basically want to peg one number (and whether they call it "spending" or "revenue" you, the voter, are supposed to hear "taxes") to another, unrelated number. They want to create a constitutional correlation where no such correlation currently exists.

It is, in short, a gimmick, an election-year sop for the masses. It is not based on anything more than a desire to capitalize on well-founded tax dissent in this state for political gain.
The two key parts to that were the idea that you--the taxpayer--are supposed to think that you'll pay less in taxes if they pass the amendment, and the fact that any such amendment is nothing more than a gimmick.

Seth at In Effect has time, as usual, to do the research on the amendment actually passed through the Assembly last week. He discovers that the amendment is, in fact, nothing but hot air and empty promises:
According to the LFB analysis, under the Assembly-approved amendment, the state was $501 million under the limit in 1983-1984, the most under of all the years, and it was $1.7 billion over the limit in 1999-2000, which is the highest over of all the years. [. . . T]he tax burden was less in the year the state took in $1.7 billion over the limit than it was in the year the state was $501 million under the limit. [. . .]

Due to the complexity of public finance, it is impossible to accurately target taxes without necessarily creating the loopholes proponents of an amendment won’t accept.
To be fair, the "real" fiscal conservatives around the state and Cheddarsphere are displeased with the Assembly's version, and it won't make it out of the Senate--well, no version will--anyway, so this will be long forgotten by 2008 when the rush to do it again will be on.

But it illustrates what is perhaps the most important point I have tried to make with my TABOR posts of late: While there is real and justifiable anger over the rate of taxation in this state--particularly the property tax--as long as we have gimmick-obsessed people in charge in Madison nothing productive will ever happen to address that. As long as we have people--pretty much an entire party, now--running on the platform of "Vote for me! I can't control my own spending!," we'll never see real leadership on controlling costs and managing growth intelligently.

Gimmicks are never good governing.

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