Conservative Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance Echoes GOP Complaints about Recovery Act Success

In the past, the conservative Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance took some effort to mask its shilling for the arm-in-arm conservative tax ideology of corporate America and the Republican party. Now, Todd Berry and the conservative WISTAX aren’€™t even trying to hide it.

In a lengthy write up of the current state of the stimulus in Sunday’€™s Wisconsin State Journal, Berry bent over backwards to echo the partisan griping of the luminaries at the head of the national GOP.

‘€œThe stimulus bill would have worked more quickly if it had put even more money directly into consumers’ hands through bigger tax cuts and checks to the unemployed and Social Security recipients, [Berry] said.’€

It’€™s no surprise Berry, who organization’€™s board has been a veritable ‘€œWho’€™s Who’€ of past members of the state’€™s largest corporate lobby — Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, is pushing for more tax cuts. WMC’€™s mission is after all, more tax cuts for the rich and corporations, giving government less regulatory power and less resources to right corporate wrong-doing.

But joining his fellow Republicans in arguing against the success, despite the 22,000 jobs being created already in Wisconsin, Berry has gone off the deep end of the right wing’€¦literally.

Berry’€™s comments make it seem as though the recovery act ignored spending for Social Security, the unemployed and tax cuts for the middle class. Nothing could be further from the truth. Two minutes of internet research shows that.

Berry Wrong on Social Security. Berry thinks the recovery act needed more Social Security spending. Odd, for an advocate who’€™s ‘€œresearch’€ constantly infers we spend too much on education for our kids, Berry thinks $14 billion to give every Social Security recipient, poor people on supplemental income and veterans receiving disability and pensions $250 in stimulus money, isn’€™t enough.

Berry Wrong on Benefits for Unemployed. The nearly 5 million people getting unemployment benefits in January 2009 were the most since the stats began over 40 years ago. For the recovery plan, the Obama administration signed into the law: an increase of $25 in benefits; help for 3 million people who will exhaust extended temporary benefits in 2009; funds to help states that extend unemployment benefits for as many as 500,000 unemployed workers who would be denied help and even suspend taxation of unemployment benefits up to $2,400; and a subsidy for COBRA health care payments for workers for nine months. Finally, up to 31 million will be helped by an increase in food-stamp benefits by 13 percent.

Now, I’€™m never one to say we do enough for the poor or the workers, but Berry’€™s characterization is garbage.

And if that wasn’€™t enough, the recovery act provides a $400 tax credit (or $800 for married couples) to nearly all Americans. Nearly. All. Americans.
This was on top of all of the other benefits to turn the economy around and dig us out of the historic economic collapse caused by the failed policies of the Bush Administration ‘€“ like the endless tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit the rich and corporate America, so savory to conservative tax advocates ranging from Todd Berry to corrupt Jack Abramoff buddy Grover Norquist.

Berry’€™s fellow Republicans are already polling to see if they have an opening for the upcoming 2010 elections in exploring any national fatigue on the stimulus. A number of members of the extreme right, like Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, Ohio’€™s John Boeher and Louis Gohmert of the country of Texas, are out in front of a cancel the rest of the stimulus movement ‘€“ despite hard evidence the recovery act is working.

Evidence like the 22,000 Wisconsin jobs already created and the billions of dollars spent to provide tax breaks to the middle class, aid to the unemployed and money directly to those receiving Social Security.

Who in the media will ask Todd Berry why he’€™s ignoring the evidence?

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Scot Ross has served as Executive Director of One Wisconsin Now & the Institute since 2007.