February 26, 2011- According to Governor Walker and his Koch-backed counterparts in other states, their efforts to do away with most collective bargaining rights in the public sector and force public workers to pay more for their healthcare and pensions are a simple matter of arithmetic.
But across the border from Wisconsin in Minnesota, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton has proposed an alternative idea: Raise taxes on the rich to help close the budget gap. Dayton's budget plan would increase taxes to 10.95 percent on Minnesota families earning over $150,000 a year (or single adults earning more than $85,000). He would also add an additional 3 percent surtax on the superrich – those earning more than $500,000 – for the next 3 years.
Even raising taxes on the rich to these levels would only cut Minnesota's budget deficit in half, and Dayton has also proposed cutting the state workforce by 6 percent and removing 7,200 childless adults from Minnesota Care, moves that should be fought by progressives. Nevertheless, Dayton's "Tax the Rich" plan shows that there is nothing inevitable about the limited option of breaking public unions proposed by Scott Walker and some other GOP governors.
If a similar tax hike on the rich were proposed in Wisconsin, it would raise $600 million, far more than the savings to be had from Walker's assault on public workers.
As one would expect, Dayton's plan has met with opposition from the Republicans who control Minnesota's legislature. "This is a feeble and pathetic attempt at going back in time to raise taxes and increase spending," said Kurt Zellers, Minnesota's Republican House Speaker.
How ironic when the right-wing criticizes others for wanting to "go back in time," given that their entire political premise is based on attempting to turn back the clock on all progressive reforms. The Koch brothers, for example, seem to have a particular hatred for the expansion of government inaugurated by the New Deal, which led to reforms like the right to form a union and Social Security insurance.
Glenn Beck's venom is aimed even further back, at the Progressive Era, when journalistic muckrakers and radical political movements were able to push for greater health and safety regulations, the income tax, and other reforms. For Beck, this path led, inexplicably, straight to Hitler.