MARGINAL THINKING DEPT: Boo-hoo! Walker made state taxes fairer for everyone, insists apologist for the wealthy

Except for its Sunday edition, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is cutting in half the space it devotes to opinion, the most deleterious effect of which will be to reduce the number of independent community voices commenting on issues of the day. But one feature that won't be affected is a column by Christian Schneider, former conservative political operative who is the newspaper's most prolific, resident thinker.

"Thinker" might be putting it generously. Schneider seldom hits the mark, except in the narrow context of regurgitating right-wing talking points. He did it again in a recent column (linked below) complaining that politicians to his left unfairly paint Scott Walker's state income tax cuts as going mostly to the wealthiest ten percent or so among us. As, ahem, they indeed are.

Breaking no new conservative ground, the column wouldn't be worth reviewing except that it follows the right wing's increasing tendency to reveal what its policies really are all about -- not so much a matter of candor as of arrogance. In this case, Schneider says he is going to ignore the actual value of money -- what economists call the "marginal utility" of it -- and focus simply on tax rates. Which neatly demonstrates Benjamin Disraeli's 19th Century dictum that, "There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies, and statistics." Schneider writes:

Serving Wisconsin: Retiring Senators Offer Wisdom

Serving Wisconsin: Retiring Senators Offer Wisdom
by
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“There is a yearning outside the Capitol for common sense, cooperation and compromise,” Senator Tim Cullen told his fellow Senators. “You all know how to do this if you’ve been married for more than 15 days.”
 
As 2014 comes to a close, so do the public careers of several extraordinary Senators. I listened carefully as these public servants delivered farewell speeches on the Senate floor. The wisdom shared by three great men comes from a cumulative 80 years of experience that spanned four decades.
 
“We came because we care,” Republican Senator Dale Schulz told his colleagues. “I ran for public office because I felt called.”
 
“We’re on this earth to help others,” said Democratic Senator Cullen who also served in Governor Thompson’s Republican administration as Secretary of Health.
 
“Our obligation is to empower the people; not to avoid them because they are of a different political persuasion,” said Democratic Senator Bob Jauch. “We are the caretakers of the public trust.

Unlike Burke, Media Gives Ron Johnson's Business & Finance Claims a Free Pass

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and Mary Burke had similar resumes when they ran for statewide office:  Both had business backgroundsand both had the primary qualification of being wealthy enough to self-finance their own campaigns.

Both also owe their business backgrounds to being hired by the family business, and both got their wealth the old fashioned way... they inherited it.  Burke, through her father (bicycle magnate Richard Burke), and Johnson through his father-in-law (plastics magnate Howard Curler).

Citizen Koch on short list for Academy Award

From The Cap Times:

Citizen Koch,” the 2013 documentary about how corporate political spending influenced Wisconsin politics in the Walker era, is on the shortlist to be nominated for an Academy Award.

The film, by Carl Deal and Tia Lessin, is one of 15 finalists out of 134 films that could be nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary. The five nominees will be announced in January.

Congratulations to Carl and Tia - yet another reason we're proud to have brought the film to Western Wisconsin.

Minnesota expecting a state budget surplus of a billion dollars. Wrong-way Wisconsin GOP leadership expecting quite the opposite

Who's minding the store? In Wisconsin it's the supposedly ever-so fiscally prudent Republicans. In neighboring Minnesota it's those supposedly ever-so profligate spenders, the Democratic Farmer Labor Party (that state's equivalent of the national Democratic Party). And here's how things have worked out between the two states.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker and his GOP majority in the legislature are facing a projected state budget deficit of $2.2 billion, and possibly more, despite "balancing" the state budget during Walker's first term. Meanwhile, Minnesota's Democratic governor and legislature are looking forward to a $1 billion surplus. The  difference in fiscal obligations in the two states amounts to about $540 for every resident of Wisconsin. From the Twin Cities Daily Planet:

Released Thursday, the November Budget and Economic Forecast shows the state with a projected $1.037 billion available for the upcoming biennial state budget.

Wisconsin GOP's creative destruction set to proceed with "right to work for less" nonsense

So Republicans have dropped another bomb on Wisconsin. The first was when newly elected Gov. Scott Walker suddenly announced in 2011 that he would pursue a measure to grab back hundreds of millions of dollars in public worker compensation while enfeebling most public employee unions in the state. Now it's the turn of State Rep. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), who recently told the Associated Press that he expects to introduce a "right to work" bill.

This has been coming along ever since, in an unguarded moment, Walker was caught on video assuring billionaire businesswoman Diane Hendricks that her dream of Wisconsin as a right-to-work state only had to await his “divide and conquer” strategy. Now that it's clear Republicans will consider enacting such backward, noxious legislation, let's revisit the big, stinking, noxious hypocrisy underlying this particular GOP goal.

Enjoy 100 Miles of Christmas

“It’s the holidays,” the Buffalo County man told me. “It’s time to enjoy all we have here.” This farmer will be joining many others who take time to travel the Great River Road during the Holiday Season.
 
Communities along the Mississippi River are rolling out the welcome mat for holiday travelers. They want you to come and enjoy the season in the snow covered hills and historical river towns.
 
This month’s Midwest Living features a story about Christmas along the river. Writer Jeff Hoffert and photographer John Noltner explore Minnesota and Wisconsin towns along more than 100 miles of the river.
 
Alma, Pepin, Stockholm, Maiden Rock and Fountain City are mentioned in the magazine’s review of great places. But the article just touches the tip of what the Coulee and Chippewa Valley communities offer visitors. Many of the seasonal festivities begin Saturday and Sunday December 6th and 7th.
 
Your Wisconsin River trip begins at Prescott. The Friends of Freedom Park host the Holiday Bazaar at the Great River Road Visitors and Learning Center.

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