Walker’s Tea Party Economics Pulling Wisconsin Down

His big donors want the profits to go into their own pockets and not the pockets of the people who actually do the hard work.

By Pat Nash
The Baraboo News Republic (4/24/15)

I spent the past two days looking at statistics, and my eyes are threatening to fall out of my head. But I discovered some interesting facts. One of them is that the more Gov. Scott Walker talks, the more he proves how little he knows.

He often states how he admires Ronald Reagan and runs all over the country espousing lower taxes and Reagan’s “trickle-down” economic theory, totally ignorant of what went on during his hero’s administration: higher taxes and debt that nearly doubled.

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(Daily Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor. Open source and free to use with link to www.thedailycall.org )

When President Barack Obama claimed that tax rates are lower now than they were when Reagan was in office, Politifact found that for seven out of the eight years of Reagan’s presidency, taxes on high earners averaged 50 percent or more. The conservative Tax Foundation, which pushes for lower taxes, noted that today’s top earners pay an average of only 22.8 percent in taxes. Also, during Reagan’s presidency, the tax rate on bottom earners was higher than it is now.

As for the economy during Reagan’s administration, the United States moved from being the largest international creditor to the world’s largest debtor nation. The debt increased more under Reagan than under any other president before him. It rose from 26 percent of the gross domestic product in 1980, when he was elected, to 41 percent in 1988, when he left office.

When people complain about our current debt, they neglect to consider that when President Obama took office, he inherited trillions of dollars in debt from two unfunded wars as well as the economic effects of the Great Recession that all began under President George W. Bush. As for the deficit, Fox News pundits and other Republicans won’t mention that it’s been cut by two-thirds since President Obama took office.

President Obama also is trying to raise taxes on the wealthy, just as Gov. Mark Dayton did in Minnesota, which resulted in a $1.8 billion surplus in that state, investment in education and an unemployment rate of only 3.2 percent. But of course the Republican-dominated Congress won’t allow Obama to raise taxes, even on the most wealthy. They still push the old “trickle down” policy that the senior President George Bush once called “voodoo economics.”

Lower the taxes on the rich and destroy the economy

If anyone thinks that lower taxes on the wealthy mean more jobs, they need to look at the year 1925 when the tax rate on the rich fell from over 60 percent to 25 percent. What happened next? In 1929, the country experienced the Great Depression that threw millions out of work and caused a massive economic contraction. So much for the idea that lower taxes on the rich help the economy.

We can also look at the eight years of the Dwight D. Eisenhower presidency, when the top tax rate averaged 90 percent. Was it a disaster? No. The economy grew by 37 percent even though Eisenhower expanded Social Security to cover another 10 million people who had been left out of the original program, and invested huge amounts of federal money in the interstate highway system, one of the largest public spending projects in the country’s history.

Unlike the current crop of Republican leaders, Eisenhower respected the findings of scientists and was instrumental in the formation of NASA and many other national scientific projects. Again, unlike our current Republican leaders, he was against raising the defense budget, which he thought was too high to start with.

It’s just too bad that today’s Republican Party would never consider nominating an intelligent, moderate like Eisenhower to run in a presidential election. The closest it came was in 2012, when Jon Huntsman decided to run for president. But he wasn’t far right enough, wasn’t anti-science, and so wasn’t supported by the party. He dropped out.

When lawmakers invest in education, scientific and technology pursuits, and in needed public projects, the economy improves. When workers earn a living wage, the same thing happens.

Except for road building, Gov. Walker has fought all of the above. But he doesn’t want the state to pay a prevailing wage to the road builders or any other contractors the state uses. His big donors want the profits to go into their own pockets and not the pockets of the people who actually do the hard work.

It won’t be long before people in the states that our governor is visiting as a potential presidential candidate will find out that his actions have resulted in Wisconsin’s falling to the bottom in wage growth and job creation. That’s on top of the damage he’s doing to our schools and universities and the division he’s created among the people. They will not be impressed.

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