Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Politi-"fact" double-standard continues

Apparently Politi-“fact” Wisconsin has decided it isn’t even going to try to call it fair anymore. Take a look at this pair of “analyses” from Tom Kertscher and Dave Umhoefer.

1. “Scott Walker has cut the average Wisconsinite’s taxes by $322.” This is a claim in a recent Walker ad (when he's not trying to desperately keep the non-story about Burke copying job plans alive). Politifact starts its analysis from looking at Wisconsin’s median family income which Census figures showed to be $65,618 in 2013. If we assume this family is “married, filing jointly,” we’ll take it from there. We’ll leave out the fact that this assumes people would still make the same amount of money if taxes hadn’t been cut, and that job growth would have slowed down in 2013 and 2014 without Walker’s and WisGOP’s policies in place (unlikely since the U.S. job and growth rate has picked up).

Politi-fact uses a request from Jennifer Shilling to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau in July to go over who got the bulk of the tax cuts. Looking at the chart, our married couple filing jointly that makes $65,618 will get $188 off of their Wisconsin state income taxes for tax year 2014. It’s not the $586 that people making between $200 and $250K will get, but I suppose it’s something. So far the analysis seems sound.

Now let’s go into the property tax side of things. I’m guessing Politi-fact is combining two sets of analysis from LFB for their numbers. The first is from $100 million of extra spending into public schools, and the second was $406 million sent off to technical schools (let me also point out that this money could only be used for property tax relief instead of, you know, EDUCATIONAL SERVICES. Priorities, you know). We then compare property value and taxes on the projected 2015 property tax bill, and compares it with what these numbers say for the median-priced Wisconsin home (estimated at $151,000).

2015 estimated tax bill before tax changes - $2,974
2015 estimated tax bill after changes- $2,822
Difference- $152 (Ok, Politifact uses $151).

Put it together, and we're around So Politi-fact comes to following conclusion.
Walker tells TV viewers that "Thanks to our reforms, the average family will have an extra $322 to spend."

Using some solid sources, the governor accurately pegs the combined estimated savings for a median-income family from his income- and property-tax cuts.

The claim needs clarification, though, because not every average family is in circumstances to receive a cut of that size, particularly if they are not property owners.

We rate the claim Mostly True.
That's nice, but note Politi-fact didn’t add in any extra context, such as mentioning that the large majority of these tax breaks went to the rich, while the lower levels of income got far less than $322. And while Politi-fact largely blows this fact off, the fact remains that a large portion of Wisconsin residents don’t own homes and will likely see very little benefit from the property tax cuts (what, you think the landlord will lower the rent or the business owner will pay his/her employees more due to those cuts? HAH!).

What’s also not mentioned is the fact that the tax cuts were due to projected surpluses that happened in the wake of Act 10 “savings”, which resulted in major reductions in take-home pay for hundreds of thousands of public employees, and reductions in services and lower job growth that has affected the economy of most corners of Wisconsin. Note that LFB's projected median 2014 home value in Wisconsin of $151,000 is slightly lower than the $151,148 that was estimated as median home value in 2012 for the 2013 payment of taxes. OK, you may be paying lower taxes in that situation, but your home investment didn’t grow at all under these tax cuts. Is that a worthwhile trade? And now we have a massive budget deficit that is exploding due to these gimmicky moves, which will require higher taxes and further service cuts in the next budget.

That reality and context of the Walker tax cuts is left out by Politi-fact, they just go with Walker’s statement at face value. Keep that in mind when you look into the following breakdown.

2. This deals with One Wisconsin Now’s recent press release mentioning that Gov Walker made a campaign promise not to fundraise as the state budget was being deliberated, and then broke it by raising big money during the last 2 budget deliberations. Check out what Politi-crap does to allegedly shoot this claim down.
"In an ‘Ethics Reform Plan’ Scott Walker proposed while running for governor, he promised he would not accept contributions from the date of his inauguration until the signing of the state budget.

"A review of Governor Walker’s campaign finance records by One Wisconsin Now shows that for each budget he introduced between Jan. 1 and the date the budget was signed into law, he raised nearly $5.6 million from 54,000 contributions."…

Our rating

…Walker made such a promise during his failed campaign for governor in 2006, specifically noting the period would begin Jan. 3, 2007.
But he did not make it again during his successful run in 2010.

We rate the claim False.
Note how Politi-crap adds words into One Wisconsin Now’s claim that “Walker promised not to fund-raise while the budget was deliberated.” OWN didn’t say that the promise was only for the 2006 campaign- they just mentioned that Walker said it, never formally retracted it, and did not follow through on it later on. This is the same “we’ll add the context” trick Politi-crap pulled when it tried to claim gave the Wisconsin AFL-CIO a "mostly false" for implying that only school voucher recipients were millionaires that would get a $10,000 tax exemption. The AFL-CIO said no such thing- they just said that millionaires could get the tax cut- which even Politi-crap admitted was true! But Kertscher added in his own "special context" to the claim to make it seem less true.

The only reason Politi-crap would add their own impressions to one group’s ratings and not the other’s is if they want to favor one side over the other. In this case, they are clearly grading Scott Walker and their WisGOP allies on a lenient curve, while taking a hard line against Mary Burke and Dem-leaning interests. But unsuspecting readers who think Politi-“fact” is objectively making these ratings sees a similar end-result, and ends up saying “Oh, they’re all liars, and I can’t support any of them.”

Which makes politics a low-turnout insider’s game - just the way the oligarchs like it. Given that we know JournalComm CEO Steven Smith is a member of the Walker-supporting MMAC Board, it is not hard to imagine that the decision to make these absurd rulings isn’t coming from Tom Kertscher and Dave Umhoefer’s “factroom”, but from another office well above their pay-grade. And it’s not being done with the intention of being fair or guaranteeing accuracy, but to get their boy Scotty another term in office.

1 comment:

  1. All of Walkers promises have time limits on them. When he was campaigning for Milwaukee County Executive he promised that he would not take the full pay of the County Exec. he would remain at the pay of the State Assembly, somewhere around $40,000 per year. That promise was only for his first few years in office. After he was re-elected he took the full pay of over $140,000 per year.