Just suppose, for a moment, that Tom Barrett had been elected governor, and that a key member of his transition team had floated the idea of increasing the state sales tax from 5% to 7 or 7.5%.
A top-line story in the Journal Sentinel would be just about guaranteed. Talk radio would go into overdrive. There'd be wild talk of recall,even though that woudln't be possible until 2012.
Well, one of Scott Walker's top transition people just floated that very idea, and all it has produced so far is a small story in the Capital Times.
Rick Chandler, a former state budget director working with Walker's transition team, claims that increasing the sales tax and reducing property and income taxes could create 10,000 jobs and stimulate the economy.
Sales taxes are regressive. Poor people pay a higher proportion of their income in sales taxes.
Wisconsin has always prided itself in having a progressive tax system, in which people with more money pay a greater share, but Chandler wants us to abandon that idea. He said that in a September op ed column, but didn't offer the specific 7% to 7.5% sales tax number. It's true that polling shows people object less to a sales tax than other taxes, for inexplicable reasons. But that doesn't make it good policy.
The idea is part of a "Refocus Wisconsin" project sponsored by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, a right-wing Republican advocacy group which the Journal Sentinel has decided to treat like some sort of impartial, neutral think tank.
The newspaper gives WPRI plenty of ink, but Chandler's latest idea hasn't made any news in the JS.
Chandler says this is just him talking, not Walker. But imagine if this were a Tom Barrett advisor. That fig leaf wouldn't last a minute.