Thursday, April 05, 2007

Pop goes the Katie

Hi, Mom!

Good morning, dear. Just finishing breakfast?

Yes. And reading the paper, too.

Just make sure you don't miss the bus out to Most Holy Sepulcher. It's your senior year, remember. You have to be an example for the younger kids.

I won't, and I am, Mom. I have a question, though.


I read your column this morning.


You really popped a cork on this tax increase debate. I'm kind of glad that you're off this "all imams, all the time" stuff—it was starting to worry me—but I don't know, doesn't Nick Coleman have a point?

What? You read Nick Coleman? Coleman's not the Prince of Darkness, but he knows him personally. Uh, what did he say?

You never read Nick Coleman? Well, yesterday Nick, I mean Mr. Coleman, said, well, wait a minute, yesterday's paper is still here:

But the truth is that while the quality of life in Minnesota has been deteriorating in almost every way that matters to common people, Minnesota's wealthiest have been getting a tax break that they don't need and don't deserve. And the result is that the cost of government has shifted unfairly to the middle class while the things that matter to the middle class -- public schools, roads, public safety -- have declined.

If raising taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent of Minnesotans to the level they were at before conservative Candy Men went on a welfare-for-the-rich binge is what it takes to turn things around, well, I think Minnesotans would make the sacrifice. We aren't stupid.

According to the state's Department of Revenue, Minnesota households earning between $45,000 to $105,000 (the state's median income is about $47,000) pay 12.3 percent in state and local taxes, while households earning above $105,000 pay 10.9 percent. The very wealthiest Minnesotans, earning more than $355,000, pay about 9 percent.

So the rate for the middle class is about one-third higher than for the rich.

Apparently, this includes income, sales, and property taxes. It sounds like an income tax rate increase at the very top would make the tax system more fair.

Oh really, miss smarty pants? How many times have I told you taxes are always evil, because they reduce the amount that people can give to their church.

C'mon, Mom. It was just a few days ago that you and Dad sat me down and told me that the property taxes on our house were getting so high that you had to cut my weekly allowance from $8.35 to $7.20. It sounds to me like we're in the group that's getting stuck with a bigger and bigger burden. I'll bet Uncle Bill is making out like a bandit.

Sigh. I suppose he is. Still, the DFL wants to raise gasoline taxes, too! What about that?

Doesn't the governor want to borrow a bunch of money for transportation? Somebody is going to have to pay that money back, right? I think the Republicans want that somebody to be kids like me. Just so they can say they didn't raise taxes. Who's our state representative? It's Ron Erhardt, isn't it? He's been trying to get the gas tax raised for years. And Ron's a Republican, right?

Oh good! Here's your bus. I mean, have a nice day in school, dear.

Update: For a really good critique of Katie's column, boys and girls, Spot wants you to go read the tax policy go-to guy, Charlie, at Across the Great Divide.

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