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Republicans Taxing Millionaires!

Dec. 11, 2013
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Great news in Wisconsin for anyone who believes the wealthy should pay more in taxes instead of continuing to be showered with the lion’s share of every tax cut passed out by Gov. Scott Walker.

Apparently, Wisconsin’s Republicans have now broken with their party nationally and are concerned that the wealthy, at least in this state, might not be paying enough in taxes.

Up until now, Republican-backed tax cuts that overwhelmingly go to the wealthy were the primary reason for the greatest income inequality in the U.S. since the Roaring ’20s.

Last year the richest 1% raked in nearly 20% of the country’s total household income and the richest 10% made off with nearly 50%.

That’s the highest amount ever recorded for wealthy Americans since the government began collecting relevant data nearly a century ago, according to economists at the University of California at Berkeley, the Paris School of Economics and Oxford University.

That also leaves lint and pocket change for the lowly households of the less fortunate 90% of us.

But apparently Republicans in Wisconsin have now seen the light. They woke up recently and started sending out press releases raising strong concerns about whether millionaires in this state were paying enough in taxes.

Well, not exactly millionaires, plural. They’re really only concerned about one Democratic millionaire. That would be Mary Burke, of course, who’s declared her candidacy to try to bring Walker’s career as governor to an end.

But Burke is exactly the kind of millionaire for whom Republicans have always fallen all over themselves to eliminate taxes for in the past. She’s a job creator.

Not only was Burke in charge of an enormous international expansion of her family’s homegrown Trek Bicycle Corp., but she also was commerce secretary in Gov. Jim Doyle’s administration when the state had more than 80,000 more jobs than it has had since Walker made Wisconsin’s jobs record one of the nation’s worst.

When Walker replaced Burke’s Commerce Department with his own disastrous Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., one of the few Wisconsin success stories that agency could think of to publicize in an advertising campaign was, you guessed it, Trek.


GOP Worries About Burke’s Taxes

With Burke threatening to bring some job-creation expertise to the governor’s office where it is badly needed, Republican operatives began digging through Burke’s finances looking for scandal.

Instead, Republicans inadvertently revealed why they’re so bad at economics. They don’t understand numbers.

Discovering that Burke paid no state income taxes for three years in the early 1990s, Joe Fadness, executive director of the state Republican Party, ran breathlessly to the media.

Fadness said it was “deeply concerning” that Burke didn’t pay state taxes for several years and declared: “She owes the people of Wisconsin a serious explanation—not excuses.”

Perhaps Fadness wouldn’t have been so deeply concerned if he’d bothered to learn Burke was living in New York heading a start-up company one of those years and for the others she was living in Europe expanding Trek’s worldwide market.

Millionaires who don’t live in Wisconsin don’t have to pay state taxes, but it’s interesting that Republicans think they should.

Walker wouldn’t need to keep slashing funds for the education of our children so he can reduce taxes for the wealthy if he were allowed to tax rich people who don’t even live here like Donald Trump or Bill Gates.

Still, we should take it as a positive sign that Republicans are now looking for creative ways to raise taxes on millionaires.

Previously, Republicans were pretty adamant that wealthy people should never have to pay any more in taxes and that, instead, we should have huge, across-the-board percentage tax cuts that would send most of the money to those who already have the most money.

That’s the dirty little secret behind tax cut politics. A lot of struggling members of the middle class get fooled into voting Republican because they hear Republicans are for tax cuts.

Then two-thirds of Walker’s Republican tax cuts go to those already at the top and the hoodwinked middle class gets 13 bucks and wonders why they’re worse off than before.

As the middle class continues to lose jobs in Wisconsin and slip into poverty, they also find out Republicans are against government helping them get unemployment, health care or food for their families.

But if Republicans are determined to find some way to make Burke pay more taxes, whatever they come up with also would apply to Republican millionaires and billionaires in the state who fund Walker.

Republicans aren’t allowed to pass laws that apply only to Democrats, although they keep passing laws punishing people likely to vote that way, such as the elderly, students and people of color.

But, so far at least, they haven’t figured out any way to outlaw Mary Burke. Maybe they should demand to see her birth certificate.


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