A new press release from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute propaganda mill trumpets “WISCONSIN RESIDENTS OVERWHELMINGLY OPPOSE RAISING TAXES ON BUSINESSES.” Further down is the actual wording of the question asked of 600 Wisconsin residents: “Business profits are down throughout Wisconsin and many businesses are reducing their workforce. In this environment should state lawmakers increase the tax on businesses?” This is what is known as a push poll, a “poll” where selected information is provided in order to shape the responses. People who conduct push polls are not doing research, they are seeking to influence opinion. People who conduct push polls should be shunned, not trusted.
Imagine how different the results would have been if instead of the dubious and vague claims about profits and layoffs (unemployment has been steady in our state) the respondents had been told about a 2006 Associated Press study that found “Wisconsin companies saw their profits grow more than twice as fast as their state and local tax bills over a two-decade period.”
Instead of playing games with push polls, anyone who is serious about public policy in our state should be spending some time with a new report from the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families and the Institute for Wisconson’s Future entitled Catalog of Tax Reform Options for Wisconsin. It is clear that there are many ways we can improve our tax policies and generate the revenues needed to fund education and other things the way we should.
Thomas J. Mertz