Thursday, October 10, 2013

Business Tax Climate Bull

The Tax Foundation reported Wisconsin dipped to 43rd, among the 50 states, in its business tax climate ranking.
The Tax Foundation said Wednesday that the state's rating is likely higher than its analysis originally showed. 
"We received some feedback from reporters and legislators about Wisconsin's place in the index, and would like to make some clarifications about the state's ranking this year," the foundation said in a statement late Wednesday afternoon. It had released its index on Wednesday morning... 
State Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) raised concerns about the ranking when it was released, arguing that with the tax law changes, there is no way the state's tax climate for business worsened.
Last year Wisconsin ranked 42nd. This year's revised ranking is 40th.
The top 10 states in 2014 are Wyoming, South Dakota, Nevada, Alaska, Florida, Washington, Montana, New Hampshire, Utah and Indiana.
Not really a murderers' row of dynamic economies. Plus, these 10 states only account for 13.6% of the United States population.

Matthew Yglesias looked at the correlation between employment, business friendly tax codes, and wages. 
There is a weak negative correlation between business friendly tax codes and wages. 
And a weak positive correlation between business friendly tax codes and employment-to-population ratio. 
In sum, it's a nothingburger. I note that this would confirm the results of a useful Thumbtack survey which found that licensing policies drive business-friendliness but taxes don't.
Scott Walker is a Republican hopeful for the 2016 presidential election (not to mention he also has to run for governor in 2014). The party can't allow one of their poster boys to have a record (yet again) demonstrating the failure of supply-side, trickle-down, tax-cutting, deregulatory policies.

To the conservative echo chamber. All hands on deck. Republicans need to make sure their water carriers look good in the media. They do this by making sure all the editorials, reports, and talk show appearances regurgitate the same manufactured storyline - cutting taxes and deregulation work. 

Enter the Tax Foundation. A right-wing, anti-tax, anti-regulation interest group masquerading as an unbiased think tank. Of its founders, two were General Motors executives, one was president of the Standard Oil Company. Funny how the policies the Tax Foundation support also happen to benefit the businesses of it's founders.

Thus, when bad news slips out, to the backtrack machine. Oops. Scott Walker is actually improving things. He's been such a lightning bolt, Wisconsin's business climate moved two whole spots! 

Business climate rankings have been found to be meaningless. The money and time involved in producing and propagandizing such could actually be put to productive use. 

Lastly, why are "business-friendly tax codes" a good thing? Corporate profits are at an all-time high, yet wages continue to stagnate. How much more business-friendly do we need to be? Where's the worker-friendly policy rankings?

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