Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What Makes Mark Green Extreme

The Green Team has its first TV spot out challenging the “too extreme” label the Dems have pinned on its candidate.

The ad, however, misses the mark on why Mark Green is extreme. Rather than focusing on politics, most of the ad aims at Green’s personal side.

As a person, I have no doubt Green is not extreme – at least not in a bad way. I’m sure he’s a good father and a caring spouse.

But that’s not really the point.

To be fair, the ad does end with Green admitting he’s interested in changing things in Madison, but he doesn’t provide details aside from ambiguously noting he wants to lower the tax burden.

Of course, the devil is in those details.

Back when Tommy was mulling a gubernatorial run in April, I wrote that the effect of a Thompson bid would be to shift power in the state GOP from the far right back to the moderate majority of the party.

Mark Green may or may not be a member of the far right at heart – it really doesn’t matter.

What matters is that the far right – based in southeastern Wisconsin – has been controlling the direction of the state GOP since Thompson left office. Tommy’s strong enough to turn that tide back -- Mark Green is not.

Green needs “the fire-breathing tax-limiting fiscal conservatives,” as esteemed member Charlie Sykes calls them, who control the conservative media around Milwaukee. If they don’t support him, he doesn’t stand a chance of scoring well at the polls in southeastern Wisconsin, nor would he be able to pull in the major GOP donations that flow from Waukesha County. And without those things, he doesn’t stand a chance at beating the incumbent Doyle.

So, in effect, it’s the company that Green must keep that makes him extreme.

Take the failed Taxpayer Protection Amendment. Green backed it throughout the spring, in spite of the fact that moderates in the GOP – who almost entirely hail from outside of southeastern Wisconsin – shot it down when it reached the legislature.

Rather than see that as a sign that the majority of the state isn’t in favor of writing broad and restrictive fiscal policy into the state constitution, Green continues to demonstrate that he would back another incarnation of TABOR in the future. He just won’t say it publicly.

If he didn’t back the next TABOR, you can bet Sykes, Belling, & Co. would turn on him in an instant. Heck, Belling turned on him this past spring simply because the TP Amendment didn’t pass this year, something Belling pinned on Green’s lack of leadership on the measure.

And this isn't the first instance of Green not standing up to party handlers.

Who can believe that Green is actually proud of his fiscal record as a member of Congress? He voted with Bush 93 percent of the time because the White House was running the show, and he wasn’t a strong enough politician to stand up to it.

I mean, who can blame him? He’s giving up his Congressional seat to run for governor this year. If he loses and he had burned his bridges to the top Republican in the country, where would that leave him?

In the end, the issue is not simply whether Green is extreme. It’s that – until he can stand on his own two feet as a politician statewide – he can’t help being as extreme as the state GOP’s current puppet-masters want him to be.


Blogger Russ said...

Green supports a TABOR type amendment for Wisconsin for one very obvious reason. We are the sixth highest tax state in the nation. We, along with the other states in the top ten, are known as "TAX HELLS". Tell me Seth, how do think companies looking at expansion in the midwest view Wisconsin. For that matter how do think existing Wisconsin businesses view expanding their Wisconsin ioperations. I think you know the answer. I suggest you admit to yourself.

August 15, 2006  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...


You're going to need to look into exactly what TABOR proposed, because it isn't a reduction in taxes. What the latest TABOR recommended was a restriction on government revenue, which is an entirely different ballgame altogether. And if proponents want to argue with that, just ask them why it didn't simply restrict taxes. Their answer will be that governments would then shift costs to other revenue forms such as fees and assessments. Well, that suggests we need to include fees, assessments, and all other forms of revenue in the equation of how Wisconsin ranks amongst other states -- and when we do that, the Badger State ranks 23rd in the country in total government revenue as it relates to personal income, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Hardly the makings of a "hell."

Plus, over the past five years, Wisconsin has lived within the expectations of TABOR without those expectations being written into the state constitution (also according to a report by the LFB). That's because governments respond to the economic climate, and when that climate went sour about five years ago, the governments in Wisconsin constricted -- all on their own. It's this type of flexibility that a TABOR type amendment ends.

And I haven't even started on how TABOR usurps local control -- although I wrote quite a bit about that in January, February, March, and April if you're intereted in checking out the archives. (Here's one example.)

What's more, the fact that it couldn't pass the GOP-controlled legislature in 2005 or 2006 tells you something about how extreme it is.

In the end, it's the Dems that have much better ideas for reducing the tax burden. One of these ideas is health care reform. Public and private institutions would benefit from this reform. According to Fond du Lac County Executive Allen Buechel, the plan announced by Sen. Russ Decker (D-Schofield) and Rep. Terry Musser (R-Black River Falls) would save the county around $3.5 million per year -- and that's just in the relatively small county of Fond du Lac. Similarly, Mike Rayome, who is the regional human resources manager for Graphic Packaging International, estimates the Decker/Musser plan would save his company $2.88 million per year in health care costs -- which is a savings of 60% from what it pays now. And that's just at the company's Wausau facility. The savings would be even greater if the company's Menasha site was included in the calculations.

Those are real savings that not only put money back in the pocket of the taxpayer, but also work toward strengthening the social services Wisconsin prides itself on.

August 15, 2006  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...

Oh, and I write more about the business tax climate in Wisconsin here. Turns out it's not as bad as the WMC makes out.

August 15, 2006  
Blogger Mpeterson said...

Grin. Even extremists can have nice kids and articulate spouses -- and really clever marketing firms. It's all designed to distract us from his voting record... oh, and his contributors' bank accounts. :^)

August 20, 2006  

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