Now is the time to tinkle back

We’ve been hearing it forever: Liberals are pro-tax, and taxes kill jobs. I hope Minnesotans aren’t still falling for that line of bull.
If it were true that low taxes are good for the economy, then South Dakota would have no need to advertise to lure businesses away from Minnesota. Businesses would be lined up to leave our state, and the South Dakota Twins would be playing in downtown Pierre.
After 30 years of right-wing propaganda about “job-killing taxes,” Minnesota’s economy still leads the region — in spite of our slightly higher tax rates. The real threat to our economic prowess comes not from taxes but from those who would starve the state government, resulting in poorer education, shabbier infrastructure and a less productive workforce.
A healthy, progressive tax code increases quality of life, improves productivity of employees and adds to the bottom line of businesses. Need evidence? Look at a map of blue state and red state America. Where’s the best education, best economy, best quality of life? In most cases, it’s where the taxes are slightly higher and more progressive.
At their best, taxes level the playing field, making it possible for a poor kid to live the American Dream by creating safe neighborhoods and providing access to high quality education. Tax cuts over the last three decades have redistributed wealth from the poor and middle classes to the rich, putting that dream out of reach for more and more Americans.
The “trickle-down” myth is that the rich invest their extra dollars, thereby improving the economy for all; the “tinkle-down” reality is that the rich put their extra money in the bank, while the rest of us are living check to check.
Worried about the deficit and the debt? Consider this: Under the five terms of Reagan, Bush I and Bush II, the debt as a percentage of GDP increased by these percentages: 11.3, 9.3, 15, 7.1, 20.
Under the terms of Carter and Clinton, debt as percentage of GDP shrank by 3.3 percent, .7 percent and 9 percent. So far, things don’t look as good for Obama, but you can blame most of that on George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the rich.
The Right talks the talk about cutting government, but they don’t walk the walk. Instead of spending proactively on education, infrastructure and energy research, they want to spend your hard-earned dollars on jails, off-shore oil and war.
Conservatives are just as ‘pro-tax’ as liberals. They just want different kinds of taxes: those that hurt the little guy the most.
Our current governor may have refused to raise income taxes, but the increase in fees and local taxes during his reign have resulted in less money for you and me and more for the fat cats.
More evidence: Middle class Minnesotans pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than their wealthier counterparts. The Department of Revenue (part of Pawlenty’s executive branch) shows that the top 1 percent pay 8.8 percent of their income in taxes, the top 5 pay 9.7 percent, and everyone else pays over 11 percent of their income in taxes. The poorest pay over 20 cents on every dollar earned.
Replacing income taxes with sales taxes — as conservatives across the nation propose — would give the middle class an even bigger share of the tax load.
Don’t blame the liberals for inciting class warfare; blame the fat cats on Wall Street who pay right-wing politicians and pundits to propagate their anti-tax mythology.
Now’s not the time to turn back; now’s the time to tinkle back.

Brett Larson is the editor of the Messenger.

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