Jase Bolger, the Michigan Speaker of the House, is one of many politicians who are deceiving Michiganders on the business climate in Michigan. In Bolger’s recent Detroit Free Press Commentary, he said that Michigan is ranked 48th in “corporate tax competitiveness.” He believes lack of competitiveness in this area is why Michigan has the 46th highest unemployment rate. When legislative leaders spout statistics like this, they find their way quickly to the rank and file members of the legislature. Those members then use the information to sell their constituents on the gravity of the situation.
Speaker Bolger apparently got his information from the non-profit group The Tax Foundation. What the people of Michigan should know is that The Tax Foundation, while being a non-profit, is anything but non-partisan. The groups web page notes that it was started by a “small group of executives” in 1937. The current Chairman of the Board is employed by Eli Lilly, the 10th largest pharmaceutical company in the world. In 2009 the Chairman was Dr. Wayne Gable who is the President of the Charles G. Koch Foundation. As many of us have learned recently, the Koch Brothers have been been funding many of the popular conservative think tank organizations. The Brothers are rated as the 5th and 6th richest people in America according to Forbes, so they have a lot of influence. Republicans in Michigan not only believe much of the misinformation put out by Koch backed organizations, but they seem to do an excellent job of disseminating their biased information, Governor Snyder included.
It is not only the source of the information that is disturbing. It is how the information is “cherry picked” in order to try and make the situation seem more drastic. The Tax Foundation ranks us 17th overall for Tax Climate. Why didn’t Speaker Bolger mention this in his commentary? Is it because 17th doesn’t seem as bad as 48th? According to The Tax Foundation, Snyder’s plan for Michigan will bump us up to 13th, until other states cut their taxes too.
So the question is how low should we go? Forbes lists Michigan as the 47th worst state to do business. According to their lists, the cost of labor in Michigan is too high. Once taxes are all but eliminated, will the Republicans move on to reducing labor costs by lowering the minimum wage? When it comes to rankings, I say put them in the circular file!