From HuffPost’s Amanda Terkel on the ground in Madison, Wisconsin:
Tea Party protesters who showed up in Madison on Saturday want to help Wisconsin dig out of its fiscal hole, but they don’t think that corporations should have to chip in.
Gov. Scott Walker (R) has argued that his proposal to strip public employees of virtually all of their collective bargaining rights is necessary in order to deal with the state’s tough economic situation.
“I’m just trying to balance my budget,” Walker told The New York Times. “To those who say why didn’t I negotiate on this? I don’t have anything to negotiate with. We don’t have anything to give. Like practically every other state in the country, we’re broke. And it’s time to pay up.”
But there is a source of revenue the state isn’t tapping that could likely be far more lucrative.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue, two-thirds of corporations in the state pay no taxes, and the share of corporate tax revenue funding the state government has fallen by half since 1981.
Tea Party protesters have been pretty much completely absent from the protests in Madison all week long, but today they were out in force (although still vastly outnumbered by anti-Walker protesters). Many of them pointed out — and even carried signs underscoring the point — that they had jobs they couldn’t walk away from during the week to come out and protest, as many teachers had done for the past few days.
The Huffington Post asked some of these Tea Partiers if they thought corporations should have to pay taxes in order to help the state financially. All were unaware that this was the case, but they nevertheless said unions were a bigger problem.
“Corporations shouldn’t pay taxes at all. That’s a terrible idea,” said Jay from LaCrosse, who identified as a libertarian and said that businesses would just raise prices and relocate to China if they faced higher taxes.
“No, they pay their taxes. They pay their taxes,” said John from Milwaukee, when The Huffington Post asked if it was fair that he was paying taxes and corporations weren’t.
Virginia from Ogema said Democrats needed to stop blaming President Bush and corporations for all their problems.