Monday, July 7, 2014

Jonathan Steitz's many levels of FAIL

Apparently GOP State Senate candidate Jonathan Steitz was given some air time on Mike Gousha's show over the weekend, and made quite the ass of himself. You can click here to watch the clip yourself, while I'll rely on the reports and transcripts, because I don't need to waste my time listening to someone who's goal seems to be becoming yet another ALEC cabin boy from the 262.

Let's go over a few of Steitz's comments, shall we? First, here's Steitz's reasoning behind wanting a 0% income tax in Wisconsin.
The states that have no income tax, nine states in the union that don't tax regular wages, they have far exceeded the rest of the country as far as economic releavance and job growth.
If this sounds familiar, it should, as Gov Walker's Administration floated it out there last winter, and it was immediately laughed away. But for the hell of it, I looked into the 7 states (2 others have specific exceptions that make some people pay income taxes- Steitz doesn't mention that) that don't have an income tax, and I noted in that article that there was little correlation between states that have 0% income taxes and higher income levels or job growth. Yes, the Stetizes of the world may bring up booming Texass, but they conveniently leave out places like Nevada, which had the 2nd highest unemployment rate in the nation (7.9%) as of May 2014, and more than half those states currently have unemployment above 6.0%. According to the last monthly state-by-state jobs report, 4 of those 7 states had employment gains that were "statistically significant" over the last 12 months, which is not a different proportion than the 24 of 43 states with income taxes that did the same.

In addition, 3 of those 7 states without income tax have median households incomes below the U.S. as a whole, so the low tax burden can't be proven to trickle down into higher overall incomes. But where there IS a correlation is that 4 of those "0% income tax" states are in the top 8 for amount of people who lack health insurance, while Wisconsin's uninsured rate was well below all of those states in 2012. So a reduction of services is certainly something we could look forward to if Steitz were to get his way.

But when did reality make Baggers like Steitz think twice about their stances? In fact, he doubles down on this, claiming that the state wouldn't need to increase the sales tax to 13%, as would be required in a dollar-for-dollar offset of income and sales tax.
Steitz expressed support for an increase in state sales tax to defray the costs of the change, but anticipated increasing the tax to "high single digits," lower than double-digit estimates needed to wholly replace funding. He said the change would be enabled by a reduction in spending, as well as increased economic activity.

"I don't think you need to look at how you replace the revenue," Steitz said. "The problem with government is not that we don't have enough money coming in, it's that we have too much money going out."
Oh really, Jon? First of all, we do have a problem with not enough money coming in, because we're looking at a likely revenue shortfall of $200 million or more for the fiscal year that just ended last week. With a balanced budget BEING THE LAW, we do need these numbers to match up (funny how these "business guys" don't get this part). We also have a significant problem with money going out already, as witnessed by the billions in borrowing put into Walker's last budget, and the $93 million Medicaid deficit caused by the policies of our "reform-minded governor".

What a marooon!

Somehow, I don't think Steitz's Tea Party plans to "reduce spending" don't include the common-sense move to accept Obamacare's Medicaid funding, which would reduce state spending by at least $119 million. But then again, I don't know for sure, because Steitz won't say what he'll cut? C'mon Jonny- will it be more cuts to the UW System and having tuition skyrocket? More cuts in state aid to local governments (at a time when cities already don't have the cash to fix their roads and some will likely add wheel taxes to make up the difference)? Does Jonny want prisoners to be let out early? Or does it mean more slashes to public schools- causing property taxes to go through the roof?

Oh wait, Jonny's got an idea for that last one. As John Peterson at Democurmudgeon says "$12,000 savings accounts controlled by parents, what could go wrong?" That's right, Steitz wants to give all Wisconsin parents $12,000 and end any concept of community public schools- just let the money go out willy-nilly. In addition to not saying how the state could be able to afford to administer a program with so many recipients, and then shell out $12,000 a child on top of it. And we've already seen plenty of examples of voucher schools in Wisconsin shutting its doors after taking state money and leaving the kids out in cold (remember our friends at Life Skills Academy who hightailed it down to Florida this January?). So I don't see a need to cause a whole lot more of this failed ALEC-backed corporatization of one of our few remaining strengths.

Steitz's talk about "economic competitiveness" is especially rich, because the district he wants to "represent" would be especially hurt by Steitz-supported policies. The 21st Senate District was gerrymandered to include most of the areas in Racine and Kenosha Counties surrounding the cities of Racine and Kenosha, with the idea of making that Dem-held seat more Republican. Well, that area includes the huge outlet mall in Pleasant Prairie and soon-to-be-opened Amazon warehouse near Kenosha. Think those guys are going to be happy with a sales tax going from 5% to 8% or 9%, especially when the sales tax at Illinois' Gurnee Mills outlet mall is 7.5%, and most of Lake County, Illinois is in the 7% range? That's not something that's going to encourage people to shop and buy things in your area, now is it? And if those commercial properties start going under due to a lack of sales, guess who has to make up that difference? That's right, local property taxpayers in the 21st Senate District.

In addition, do you think gutting services and screwing up public schools will convince FIBs to pick up roots and decide to live across the border? I would think the opposite would occur, and this low-service mentality would really hurt the chances for the Southeastern Wisconsin to keep drawing commuters that work in Illinois. According to US Census data, over 20,000 Kenosha County residents work in Cook and Lake County, Illinois, and more than 2,300 in Racine County do the same. Those people likely could live in a lot of communities in the Land of Lincoln and make for an easier commute, so why would you make Wisconsin a less desirable place to locate and live in by destroying public services and acting like a backwards-ass red state?

But apparently Steitz wants Wisconsin to act like a backwards-ass red state. Check out this quote from the story that accompanies the Gousha interview.
Van Wangaard, R-Racine, held the district before the lines were redrawn and lost in a recall election in 2012 that was spurred by his vote for Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining changes.

Steitz, R-Pleasant Prairie, said the changes in the district boundaries allow for a more conservative candidate to win.

"I think Van was the perfect candidate for the 48 percent Republican district that the 21st used to be; this is now almost a 60 percent Republican district," Steitz said on the program, produced in partnership with
First of all, the fact that Steitz thinks that he only has to care about the "60 percent Republican" part of the district means he'll be yet another partisan, "divide and conquer" ALEC boy that couldn't care less about anyone but the fraction of a fraction that'll vote for him. Haven't we seen enough of that disastrous mentality? Second of all, that district isn't "60% Republican", as it went approximately 54-44 GOP in the 2012 elections. Yes, that makes it hard for a Dem to win, but not impossible in the right circumstance.

And given that the GOP is offering up a dope like Steitz and a retread like Wangaard for this district, this may be one of those circumstances. After Jonny Steitz's absurd performance on TV this weekend, it sure makes Randy Bryce seem like the more legitimate candidate, doesn't it?


  1. Hi Jake,

    Off topic but share worthy article. -CJ

  2. If "high single digits" means 9%, then without personal income taxes state revenues for the FY15 base would fall short by $3,948m from the LFB Jan estimate with total revenues of $11,069m.

    Since FY14 sales taxes have come in $27m short of those estimates in the space of 6 months, expanding from a 5% rate to a 9% rate and from 6 to 12 months means that the FY15 base would be $97m below the January projections. Add the $93m Medicaid hole and that's $190m.

    So all told eliminating personal income taxes and replacing them with a bump to 9% sales taxes would make Wisconsin's revenues fall $3,096m short of appropriations in FY15. Going with the LFB's 2015-17 changes to appropriations, the total amount of red ink for 2015-17 that Steitz desires - after his sales tax increase, mind you - would be $6,020m.

    For comparison, here are the current budget biennium numbers by agency. When Steitz says "reduced spending" the translation is "eliminate the Department of Health Services" or "eliminate all shared revenue and tax relief and the Department of Corrections"

    That is the magnitude of what he is saying.

  3. Exactly, Geoff. It's pretty much impossible, unless you literally free all prisoners or stop repairing highways altogether. And can you imagine the out of pocket costs that there'd be if you didn't have medical assistance? YIKES!

    As usual, GOP policies sound good, but look awful when put on paper, and are even worse if they're ever carried out.