Wisconsin Republicans and their cost-ineffective "democracy" | WisCommunity

Wisconsin Republicans and their cost-ineffective "democracy"

[img_assist|nid=51968|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=166|height=173]Here's one to ponder the next time a Republican bitterly complains that government aid to help a business start-up or expansion is costing too much: The Voter ID bill that Republicans recently enacted is a hugely expensive program to combat a very tiny problem, yet the GOP didn't think twice about throwing huge bags of money at it.

A little background, and then some helpful math:

The GOP is fond of cherry-picking data to feign outrage over supposed Democratic largesse. For instance, in the recovery act, some grants awarded to job creation efforts were attacked on the basis that the cost to taxpayers per each job was hundreds of thousands of dollars. Never mind that this correlation is itself misleading. After all, the cost is a one-time investment, whereas the new job presumably would pay wages for years. Nor do Republicans reveal the economic multiplier effect of new jobs, beyond mere salaries. But it's worse than that.

Here's one to ponder the next time a Republican bitterly complains that government aid to help a business start-up or expansion is costing too much: The Voter ID bill that Republicans recently enacted is a hugely expensive program to combat a very tiny problem, yet the GOP didn't think twice about throwing huge bags of money at it.

A little background, and then some helpful math:

The GOP is fond of cherry-picking data to feign outrage over supposed Democratic largesse. For instance, in the recovery act, some grants awarded to job creation efforts were attacked on the basis that the cost to taxpayers per each job was hundreds of thousands of dollars. Never mind that this correlation is itself misleading. After all, the cost is a one-time investment, whereas the new job presumably would pay wages for years. Nor do Republicans reveal the economic multiplier effect of new jobs, beyond mere salaries. But it's worse than that.

Because, you see, the GOP is not at all shy about designating absolutely outrageous sums of tax dollars to their own pet projects and special interests, such as tax breaks for corporations that don't create any jobs at all and that indeed move some of them out of state. In Wisconsin, one of the more egregious if not most expensive examples of the GOP's spendthrift ways doesn't involve economic development. It involves vote suppression.

When the GOP-dominated Wisconsin legislature approved the Voter ID bill, supposedly designed to prevent vote fraud, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimated the law could cost more than $5.7 million to implement. That amount didn't take into account continuing costs, or the need to expand hours or add new Department of Motor Vehicle sites to make registration reasonable fair (if still quite difficult) statewide. Nor did it take into account the cost in tax dollars of defending this goofy new law in court against challenges from the League of Women Voters and perhaps other good-government groups.

Nevertheless, for the sake of this discussion, let's agree to work with that $5.7 million figure, even though it's probably a low as well as static estimate. Now, how many legitimate examples of voter fraud have been uncovered and/or prosecuted in this state, in total over the past four years, out of millions of votes cast? Answer: ELEVEN.

We can reliably assume the percentage of future fraudulent votes, because it is already so very miniscule, will not noticeably change up or down in coming elections, even though Republicans insist the number will decline thanks to Voter ID. Actually, that's probably false, because as the Brennan Center and others have noted, the Voter ID card itself would not have prevented any of those 11 fraudulent votes.  Indeed, those 11 cases of vote fraud were discovered and prosecuted WITHOUT Voter ID. And bipartisan efforts to study the scope of the supposed vote-fraud problem didn't come up with any reason to assume a significant number of other cases were missed.

So, dividing $5.7 million by 11 we get $518,182. Yes, it's true. Measuring in the most fiscally conservative way, the Wisconsin GOP's vote fraud bill already is costing taxpayers more than HALF A MILLION DOLLARS to prevent each case of estimated vote fraud. 

Some ratio, compared to a hundred grand or so to create a family supporting job that will last for years. Of course, this mesurement is not how Republicans are calculating the expense. Rather, their math goes like this:

$5.7 million -- Voter ID startup cost

Divided by: Perhaps 15,000 votes suppressed as students, the infirm, the poor and others do not obtain the new ID (which will cost them at least 28 bucks in many cases). That 15,000 is within the range of predicted vote suppression totals for a statewide Wisconsin election.

Result: Suppressing the votes of citizens likely to vote against Republicans will cost taxpayers a mere $380 per voter.

Wow, well, now, that's a bargain. If, that is, you're the Republican Party with an agenda increasingly distasteful to voters and you're trying to hang onto your control of government. Why, Karl Rove lights his cigars with that kind of money. Chump change! You should be happy you're being forced to cough it up!

Published

November 22, 2011 - 1:22pm

Author

randomness