Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Devil is in the Distortions

More hand-wringing over The Column. One author takes us on a trip down memory lane in comments, comparing "leadership" on the transportation bill to the Lend/Lease Act. It seems to be the week of Dem greatest hits, all of which happened ages ago.

The author does make a point toward the end of his comment:

What we are left with in your column are distorted facts about the size of the bill, as Senator Olseen already pointed out, and ignorance to the obvious issue people in North Branch face with the 35 overpass.

Ignorance is neither bliss nor truth.

So, what exactly did Olseen point out? Essentially, his point was that the transportation bill was smaller than the "Minnesota Miracle," and that I distorted the cost of the package because I failed to consider that some of the package was bonding. Of course, bonding is still an additional tax burden that didn't exist before, which is the essence of the phrase "tax increase." (We dealt with that argument here.)

One down.

The "Minnesota Miracle was bigger" argument is semantic at best. It raised $580 million in two years. The transportation bill will raise $6.6 billion in ten years. But, because the MM was a larger percentage of total budget, the Dems get away with calling it "larger." Ridiculous. The fact remains that the transportation package is the single largest amount of money the state has ever taken, by far.

Two down.

Olseen also added this gem:

(Author) drastically overestimates the impact of the gas tax increases on Minnesota families. The truth is that the average driver, driving 15,000 miles with a fuel economy of 22 miles per gallon, would spend about an additional $37 due to the increase in the gas tax.

I can't tell you how tiring it gets when politicians debate by ignoring the actual point and completely changing the subject. What the article actually said was:

As with most relief packages, any “decrease” (read as smaller increases) in property taxes will quickly be absorbed by the bodies that rely on them, until we are right back where we are now or worse, with an additional $6.6 billion responsibility - $500 a year for a family of four making between $49,000 and $79,000 - and even higher gas prices.

Clearly, the intent was to total the entire transportation bill's affect on tax bills. Olseen responds by quoting only a tiny portion of the overall, and has the stones to question the "facts" and suggest the costs were "overestimated." Either he didn't read the article very closely, he simply ignored the cost of the entire package in favor of more personally favorable numbers, or he hasn't done his "research."

This, from the senator who prefaced his letter by calling The Column "irresponsible journalism."

Three down.

It would seem that Olseen is the one engaging in distortions, with a more than willing handmaiden to carry the party water, as usual.

As to the bridge argument: If the people of North Branch had a dollar for every time a politician, both Republican and Democrat, told them funding for the bridge was "a lock," they could have built the damn thing themselves. No one is ignoring anything, they simply choose to believe it when they see it.

Comments are open at The Column and Olseen's letter. Or, for more tax fun, see this letter, which refers to the transportation bill as "bipartisan."

No comments: