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Paid Political Letter: The Fallacy of Republican Tax Policy

Ideas and opinions in this letter are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stance of this paper. The author of this letter has paid for its placement.

For decades Republicans have tried to convince us if we left business alone i.e. reduced taxes and reduced regulation, business would take care of us all. Business would grow the economy in more efficient ways and everyone would get a slice of the growth pie that would inevitably occur. Prosperity would be ours. They liked to coin the phrase “trickle down economics”.

In 2011, Scott Walker and a majority Republican legislature swept into our state in the 2010 election and began the process of applying this conservative notion. I say notion since 99% of formally trained and experienced economists know trickle down is not a true economic theory. In that year they passed the Manufacturing and Agriculture (tax) Credit (MAC). 10 +years later a recent memo produced by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau for Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) tabulating all tax policy changes made since 2011 shows the MAC has cost the state $2.86 billion.

The credit has a name that implies benefits for a wide swath of farmers and manufacturers being rewarded for job creation. However, the progressive research group Wisconsin Budget Project has shown how tax filers with income of $1 million or more—who make up only 0.2% of all filers—got 76% of the total credit, with no proof of job creation required. So, essentially, this Republican enacted tax credit benefitted millionaires. Further, only $1 of every $6 went to farmers even though the name includes both industries.

Businesses and families in Wisconsin both need the same things in order to thrive: safe communities, a solid transportation network, excellent public schools, accessible health care, and affordable higher education. These priorities require the investment of tax dollars—investments that are threatened when we redirect tax funds that should broadly benefit everyone in Wisconsin and instead funnel those resources into the pockets of a few wealthy, well-connected individuals and businesses.

Republican tax policy doesn’t work for Wisconsin families or businesses. It’s never worked. It’s a fallacy. Remember that when you vote this fall.

Mary Hayes
Drummond, Wis.