LWV's wise prescription: Instead of tax cuts, Wisconsin's Plutocracy Party should pay down expanded state debt | WisCommunity

LWV's wise prescription: Instead of tax cuts, Wisconsin's Plutocracy Party should pay down expanded state debt

Regarding the latest feel-good Republican rhetoric about enacting some kind of state tax cut to spend a projected budget surplus, the Wisconsin League of Women Voters had a thoughtful reaction:

With state tax collections exceeding projections by about $900 million, the League urges lawmakers to do what any responsible individual or family would do with unexpected income: Pay our bills and make responsible investments in the future. While some politicians in this election year are calling for more tax cuts or a one-time “tax holiday,” we believe it is smarter to pay down the debt the state has incurred over the years by repeatedly borrowing money to balance the budget. Some of the money should be used to fill holes in the budget, such as those in Medicaid and the welfare block grant.

Well said. We would go farther and note that the state's debt has spiraled upward since Gov. Walker and his Republican legions controlling the legislature decided to borrow a lot more money, billions of dollars of it in just their very first budget.

Along with that borrowing, how did our allegedly thrifty and wise state leaders actually set the stage for the projected surplus? By numerous mean-spirited and reckless moves, including: cuts to social safety-net programs, raising taxes on working-poor families, throwing tens of thousands of impoverished single adults off Medicaid and grabbing back hundreds of millions of dollars in previously promised compenstion to state employees, whose earning power has lagged inflation for years, now.

It would be nice if Republicans would admit they didn't need to destroy collective bargaining or slash public employee pay and benefits, or even wreck the social safety net, and withdraw past claims that the "structural deficit" meant the state was broke and drastic action was essential. In crafting their ultra-austerity budget, they went Old Testament in the depths of the Great Recession, depressing economic recovery in Wisconsin which continues to keep our unemployment rate high and job growth at some of the worst levels in the nation.

Given that state tax revenues are returning to a semblance of normal, Republicans who control the legislature and the governor's office should be investing in education, job creation, infrastructure besides more highways and our suffering human capital.

But that idea is just a fantasy of someone applying common sense to public policy issues. What's more likely to happen is that, as this fall's important elections approach, Walker and GOP legislators up for re-election will continue to flog the idea of tax cuts, tax cuts, and more tax cuts. It sounds great, but it's only really great for the one percenters, the wealthiest state residents and businesses that inevitably will get most of that bread, well the vast majority of us get crumbs, at best, when we've already been made to starve.

There is a far better way, but our very own GOP, better thought of as the Plutocracy Party, is disinterested because it is entirely self-interested.


January 17, 2014 - 9:30am