It's incredible what voters allow politicians to get away with. I guess more disgraceful is what the media allows them to do. Just look at Scott Walker's continued refusal to offer anything but the most shallow rhetoric to describe his vision for Wisconsin's economic recovery. However, empty rhetoric may be better than misleading rhetoric, which is what Mark Neumann's property tax plan amounts to.
From Neumann's website:
Over the past 10 years, property taxes collected by Wisconsin have increased 53%. Madison politicians continually raise property tax rates and levies6, which puts an additional burden on Wisconsin's already stretched-thin property owners.
OK, so Madison insiders are terrible because they raise property taxes. It's a tragedy that a strong leader like Mark Neumann will surely address. So what's his plan?
Mark Neumann's plan allows property tax payers to pay $0 in 2011 if they commit to pay their property tax bill every month starting in January 2012.
Neumann's plan is the political equivalent of offering people a "free T-Shirt" if they buy a membership to an organization. It's not free and it's not a tax cut. It's simply asking people to pick their poison.
Dale Knapp, research director of the Wisconsin Taxpayer's Alliance, said that while there could be some stimulative effect from Neumann's plan it's not really a tax cut, because there's no decrease in revenues to government.
I often argue with my friend Sam Clegg about this issue. How do taxpayers respond to a quick injection of cash into their pockets? Even though I am typically a skeptic of supply-side economics, particularly when the tax cuts are going to the wealthy, I know that Americans spend beyond their means, and for that reason, many of them would spend the tax cut they receive.
He often counters that taxpayers often treat tax cuts as a future tax hike, perhaps out of a subconscious awareness of that "budget deficit" thing they keep hearing about in the media. In such an instance, a taxpayer will save the money, assuming that the temporary gift from Uncle Sam will simply be due in next year's tax returns.
Mark Neumann's plan correct me if I'm wrong Sam seems to be the classic example of this paradox.
Moreover, Neumann's argument that the plan won't affect revenues contradicts with his prediction that it will stimulate consumption and usher in increased revenues from sales taxes.
Some of you might recognize this proposal as similar to the mayor's recent idea to have Madison taxpayers pay their property bill in four installments a year instead of two. In that situation, Cieslewicz similarly marketed the policy as a tax cut (or "easing the burden," as he said) for city residents. However, it was clear to observers that an importan motive was for the city to take over the property tax collection services from the county and therefore gain substantial revenue from the interest and fees on late payments.