February 19, 2014

The Capital Times: Scott Walker redistributes wealth — upward

media mention

(Original Post)

Scott Walker may not know how to create jobs.

But he does know how to create income inequality.

The governor’s election-season tax cut scheme is widening the gap between the very well off and the rest of us by redistributing wealth upward.

An analysis of the governor’s initiative by the nonpartisan Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy found that the biggest beneficiaries are the wealthiest Wisconsinites.

After the Republican-controlled state Assembly gave its usual “Yes, sir!” approval to the governor’s proposal, state Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, noted: “The top 1 percent of income earners, who made $380,000, would enjoy 7 percent of the total tax cut, enjoying an average cut of $951. In comparison, most middle-income residents will only receive a tax cut of $117, with low-income earners who make less than $21,000 receiving a $39 tax cut. These numbers do not even account for an additional tax cut of $50 million to a small group of highest income earners who now will not pay any state income tax. Everyone should pay their fair share of taxes, including the wealthiest.”

Taylor is correct on the basic premise.

She is also correct to note that the governor’s plan will increase what the Center on Wisconsin Strategy has already revealed as a rapidly widening gap between the very rich and the rest of us.

That’s a shift in Wisconsin’s historic position as a state where the gap between rich and poor has been far narrower than in most states. And it is an assault on Wisconsin’s progressive tradition, which has always valued and championed the ideal that our communities and our state are best served by policies that serve the great mass of citizens — not an economically powerful and politically connected elite.

Walker makes no secret of his desire to emulate his childhood hero, Ronald Reagan. Despite the fact that he often comes in below “undecided” in national surveys and polls in states with early caucuses and primaries, the governor continues to mount a presidential run that promises a renewal of Reagan’s “Robin Hood in reverse” economic policies.

The problem, as Rep. Taylor well notes, is that “trickle down, top down economics didn’t work under President Ronald Reagan, and it doesn’t work now.”