WISTAX Says $1B Education Cut, 70K Off BadgerCare Is ‘Fiscally Mature’

It’s the same old story with Todd Berry and the conservative, pro-corporate Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

Their biased view says there’s only money available in the treasury for corporate tax cuts – everything else is second-tier.

In a story today in the Wisconsin State Journal about the additional $636 million in new revenue Wisconsin has from the state’s rebounding economy due to the investments by President Obama, former Gov. Jim Doyle and the then-Democratic-controlled legislature, conservative WISTAX head Berry had this to say:

[Berry] said the state was in a similar position in 1979, 1994 and 2005: coming out of an economic downturn and finally seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel. Berry said leaders then chose to spend the money.

“The question I have is: Have our politicians learned anything from our history?” Berry said. “We will see if this time they will be fiscally mature.”

Excuse me?

You’ll note the biased Berry doesn’t say word one about, perhaps rolling back the $200 million in corporate tax breaks and tax breaks for the wealthy that Gov. Walker has pushed for in the past four months.

Always the loyal propagandist, Berry’s argument is always about the affordability of spending that goes to the middle class and the working poor – never about the unpaid-for corporate taxes or the unfair tax system that allows the investment income of the wealthy avoid the taxation leveled upon the income earned by the labor of the middle class.

No, apparently, Todd Berry and the conservative WISTAX think that a $1 billion cuts to education, which we now see is not needed, is a responsible action for the state’s economic future.

And Todd Berry and the conservative WISTAX think that cutting 70,000 people off of BadgerCare is a responsible thing to do, when the state now has funds.

And Todd Berry and the conservative WISTAX think that gutting the university system and the technical college system will allow us to fully-realize the unlimited potential of the free market?

And Todd Berry and the conservative WISTAX think that jacking prescription drug prices for seniors so that private prescription drug plans can reap $100 million or more in tax dollars.

As One Wisconsin Now documented at WISTAX Watch, our comprehensive research project about corporate influence of the clearly ideological, pro-corporate Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, Todd Berry’s outfit is in the pocket of the right wing message machine.

When we first explored the organization in 2010, we uncovered the following:

The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance has regularly served the conservative agenda by consistently structuring the education spending debate singularly as a tax debate: Wisconsin spends money on education and that makes taxes high. When it creates “studies” of education, the data is blatantly skewed to ensure the results are those desired by the WISTAX anti-public education supporters.

As the One Wisconsin Institute’s report “We’re Not Broke” showed, the tax burden has risen on the middle class because the burden has dramatically decreased amongst the wealthy and corporations. It is biased, pro-corporate groups like WISTAX, who have served, and continued to serve, as propaganda machines in the war on the middle class.

WISTAX has advocated getting rid of the corporate income tax, because of all reasons, corporations use a now-closed loophole that allowed them to avoid taxes on Wisconsin profits by setting up a phony post office box “address” in a state without corporate income taxes. WISTAX regularly reports the corporate income tax collections as unpredictable, despite other taxes having less predictability year to year.

WISTAX has a number of time-tested conservative techniques when it comes to advancing its anti-tax argument. For instance, using a relationship between whatever tax is being discussed and income levels, which raises Wisconsin’s ranking because average income is under the national average. WISTAX will isolate a tax without talking about what it is used to finance. WISTAX will ignore fees paid by other states, not paid in Wisconsin, such as toll roads. Lastly, WISTAX will omit important context for a tax and the relationship between taxes paid by businesses or not paid by businesses.

Rather than Todd Berry asking for “fiscal maturity,” mayhaps it’s time the media starts asking for a little “intellectual honesty” from Todd Berry and the conservative, pro-corporate Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.

For instance, the budget hawks of WISTAX have run a $2 million organizational deficit from 1998-2008, according to filings at the IRS. Turns out in 2009, they ran another $268,000 deficit. I thought the first rule from the conservatives was: don’t spend more than you bring in?

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