Sunday, January 14, 2007

Dissecting Heineman's "State of the State" Deceit

by Kyle Michaelis
******Update - 01/29/2007*******
Although the New Nebraska Network stands by the general assertions made in this article, its calculations were flawed and the claim that certain middle-class taxpayers would see no relief under Heineman's income tax proposal was made in error. We regret and apoligize for this unforgiveable failure resulting from impatience and outrage at the lack of objective criticism in the Nebraska media that led Kyle to a reactionary extreme unbefitting of the standards NNN attempts to uphold.

So often, all you have to do for the truth to prevail is shine a light on the situation and let the people see it for what it is. It's my hope that such will prove the case in fighting back against the deceit underlying Gov. Dave Heineman's proposal for supposed "middle class tax relief," as laid out in the 2007 State of the State Address he delivered Thursday to Nebraska's legislature.

The text of Heineman's address can be found here. Included are the following charts to describe his plan for cutting Nebraska's income taxes.
(click to enlarge)

Using Heineman's own numbers, I've just submitted this letter to the Omaha World-Herald's Public Pulse:
Every time Gov. Dave Heineman mentioned tax cuts in his 2007 State of the State Address, it was under the guise of helping the middle class. He used the same rhetoric throughout the 2006 campaign and in the build-up to this year’s legislative session.

Yet, applying any scrutiny to Heineman’s actual proposal (LB331) quickly reveals it as an assault, not an assist, to Nebraska’s working families. Married taxpayers with incomes between $32 and $50 thousand – the definition of Nebraska’s true middle class – receive no relief whatsoever.

Heineman has abandoned and sacrificed these taxpayers so that those earning $90 thousand could receive a 25-percent tax cut. Meanwhile, he would phase in a 13-percent reduction for all those with joint incomes greater than $90 thousand.

It’s time for Gov. Heineman to stop lying about his tax cutting priorities. His concern is not for Nebraska’s middle class but rather for its wealthiest citizens.

Even better evidence of the truth behind Heineman’s proposal than the numbers above is his call for eliminating the estate tax. This is nothing more than a give-away to Nebraska’s richest and most powerful. No doubt, they will also be the most generous to Heineman’s future political campaigns.

Letters to the Editor are, unfortunately, quite limited in scope and depth. Because of length constraints, I could not even mention how inherently regressive the change from 4 to 3 tax brackets would be, nor the fact that young people just starting out in the workforce have also been abandoned in Heineman's quest to give every penny possible back to Nebraska's wealthiest citizens.

Note that single taxpayers with incomes from $17.5 to $27 thousand see no tax reduction under Heineman's proposal, and those unfortunate enough to earn between $16 and $17.5 thousand will actually be seeing a 44% higher tax rate (from 3.57% to 5.12%). How absolutely appalling is that?

So far, the complacent Nebraska media has offered no substantive criticism of Heineman's proposal, bordering on outright corruption in their complicity. This has been particularly true of the World-Herald, who've taken every opportunity in the last month to advance Heineman's proposal and to destroy efforts by state senators to instead focus on reducing property taxes. They're even at it again in today's editorial.

Yet, such is the nature of the World-Herald's near monopoly on public opinion in Nebraska that every effort must be made to reach its readers and to break through the many walls they've erected to control debate and the flow of information to the people. That's why this site exists, but it needs your help if its efforts are to amount to anything.

The facts are on our side. They speak for themeselves, but they need your voice if anyone's going to hear them. your state senator, write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, e-mail your friends and co-workers. Just don't let Heineman and the Omaha World-Herald bully us into forsaking fiscal responsibility by shifting more of the tax burden onto the poor and the middle class.

I have more to say about this whole proposal - and Heineman's State of the State Address. For now, though, this will have to do. But, for Nebraska's sake, stay tuned and speak out.

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Anonymous Dave Sund said...

I figured that Heineman's tax cut proposal was full of a lot of B.S., but didn't take the time to go through the numbers. Thanks for the analysis.

I'm very concerned, as a college student, about Heineman's proposed budget for the University of Nebraska. He seems to think that private donations should be funding a public university. This bothers me tremendously, as someone who's barely able to afford college right now thanks to cuts in pell grants.

You wrote a couple of weeks ago about Nebraska's "brain drain." Heineman seems content to allow young people in this state to leave for greener pastures. I hope the legislature isn't content to live with Heineman's budget.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get used to it!!!! "Middle Class", what middle class? I challenge you to find employment that pays $35K-$60K annually in Omaha, Nebraska. They're NON-EXISTENT. The once middle class have been shoved into the lower classes...they've left many claw marks along the way, but they're GONE. And, yes, you college students should be concerned, be very concerned. Prepare yourselves for a life of unfair taxation with high profile, low paying jobs. Nebraska...the good life!


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