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Republicans shift focus from health care to tax reform

MinnPost file photo by Bill Kelley
Rep. Erik Paulsen

After health care, can they keep the winning streak going with tax “reform”? Maya Rao of the Strib says, “Republican lawmakers are heading back to their home districts for the August break to promote plans to reshape the federal tax code, fresh off the collapse of their party’s efforts to overhaul the health care system. Legislators hope the GOP can rally and pull together better than it did on the push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. ‘I think it’s obvious that there were some lessons learned from health care’, said U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, a Republican from Eden Prairie who voted for the health care bill in the House. ‘It’s not good to have competing versions. You don’t need to have artificial deadlines to pass bills. It’s better to get the policy right’.” Better yet, it might be a good idea to have, you know, an actual policy.

Entirely related, Christopher Snowbeck of the Strib says, “People who buy health insurance on their own are about to experience what’s become a dreary summer ritual — the first look at next year’s premiums. The state Commerce Department on Monday is scheduled to release preliminary rate requests from health insurers for the roughly 170,000 people who buy individual policies. Insurance agents say they aren’t expecting a repeat of the 50 percent increases posted last year. But they do anticipate large premium jumps in the market, while pointing out the increases could be knocked back by a new state program designed to cushion insurers from expensive medical claims.” Vows to “let it implode” will no doubt help keep costs in line.

I knew there was a reason I stopped playing. Says Joe Bissen of the PiPress, “Hillcrest Golf Club in St. Paul recently announced it will be closing on Oct. 31. Here are 16 other golf courses in the east metro and nearby area that have closed since 2000: All Seasons, Cottage Grove; The Bridges of Mounds View; Brockway, Rosemount; Carriage Hills, Eagan; Country Air, Lake Elmo; Country View, Maplewood; Maple Hills, Maplewood; Mulligan Masters, Lake Elmo; Oakdale Par 3, Oakdale; Orchard Gardens, Burnsville; Parkview, Eagan; Silver Springs, Monticello.”

A couple Wells Fargo items. From late last week, Laura Keller at Bloomberg reported, “Fraudulent bank accounts, bogus credit cards, compromised customer data and, now, unwanted car insurance. Wells Fargo & Co, it seems, just can’t stay out of trouble. News late this week that the lender may have charged more than 500,000 people for auto insurance they didn’t need has raised uncomfortable questions for the bank, including the big one: What will it take to clean up Wells Fargo?”  As long as the stock price holds up, nothing.

Now, another Bloomberg story says, “ … the lender, struggling to overcome a fake-accounts scandal in its community bank, said the division’s new leader is cutting about 70 senior executive jobs. The lender will reduce the number of regional and area presidents to 91, Mary Mack, head of the retail bank, said Friday in a memo to staff, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg. Bank spokeswoman Bridget Braxton confirmed the contents of the memo and said employees whose positions are eliminated will remain staff members for 60 days until further steps are decided. Most of the remaining managers will be re-titled as region bank presidents with direct responsibility for more employees than before, in a move aimed at reducing management levels across the branch network, Mack wrote. Across its 10 geographical divisions, Wells Fargo previously employed 160 regional and area presidents.”

Following that big Foxconn assembly plant announcement in Wisconsin, Mark Sommerhauser of the Wisconsin State Journal says, “ … the economic infusion promised by Foxconn carries an unprecedented pricetag: $3 billion over 15 years, or $200 million a year, in state tax incentives. That excludes local incentives to fund infrastructure improvements, details for which have not been released. It marks Wisconsin’s biggest entry yet in the state-to-state bidding war for splashy economic-development deals, in which tax incentives are the chief currency. … the amount per job that Wisconsin is offering Foxconn dwarfs incentives given for large development projects in many other states, said Timothy Bartik, who has studied state tax incentives for three decades at the nonprofit W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo, Mich. ‘The amount they’re paying per job is very, very high,’ Bartik said. ‘I’m skeptical that the benefits justify the cost.’”

Rick Barrett of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is more upbeat. “Once the $10 billion plant opens — it’s projected to begin producing very high-definition LCD screens in 2020 — Taiwan-based Foxconn says it will make $4.26 billion in supplier purchases annually, about one-third of them within Wisconsin. It’s an enormous amount of money that could flow through area businesses, whether they’re suppliers of advanced technologies, such as robotics and automation software, or more basic things like paper towels for factory bathrooms. Think of Foxconn as a virtual village, with the factory as its town hall. It’s likely to spawn many new businesses, said Dan Steininger, cofounder of BizStarts, a Milwaukee organization that assists emerging companies.”

At this writing the hunt is still on. Paul Walsh and Pat Pheifer of the Strib say, “Beverly Cory, 48, ‘senselessly lost her life’ Saturday when she was shot inside an office building on a commercial plaza near Hwy. 110 and Interstate 35E, according to Linda K. Johnson. … Authorities remain on the hunt for the suspect, identified by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) as Lucifer V. Nguyen, 44. Nguyen is described as East Asian, about 5 foot 5 and 150 pounds. The BCA said his last known address was in Minneapolis, but recent court records out of Wisconsin list a New Hope address. His criminal history in Minnesota includes convictions for misdemeanor theft, careless driving and drunken driving. He is scheduled to appear in a Superior, Wis., courtroom on Aug. 18 in connection with felony battery and illicit drug allegations.”

Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Henk Tobias on 07/31/2017 - 08:15 am.

    It requires complex thought

    So many on the Conservative side don’t understand it, but in cases like FoxConn receiving huge tax subsidies taxpayers are saying: Here you can use our roads, in fact we are going to make huge costly changes to our infrastructure for you, use our water and sewer, our legal system (Businesses this large spend a lot of time using our court system), our police, our fire departments, our education system (We don’t have the educated work force you need, but we’ll pay for training them before we hand them over to you because you shouldn’t have to pay to train you employees, should you?) and please use anything else you feel that you need and we aren’t going to charge a dime. Not just this year, not just next year, but most likely the entire life of your new plant. Promise us jobs and we will gladly pay your freight, no charge, just tack it on the bill and put the profit in your out of state and out of the country pockets. And when the bills come due not to worry Jack and Jill taxpayer will pony up. So Wisconsin taxpayers can all feel good about that, not only are you helping to pay for your neighbors job (hope you like him or her) you are also ensuring that foreign executives and investors earn a healthy profit.

    Its been this way since the Reagan years. Corporate taxes paid are at all time lows and when one group is paying less another needs to start paying more and we all know who that is, right?

  2. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 07/31/2017 - 09:45 am.

    I’m Confused

    I thought the modern day GOP was all about liberty. Freedom. Low taxes. Getting the government out of the way.

    But now Trump & Walker are all in favor of a massive expansion of government into the economy. First Walker inserted government into contracts between private parties. (What else do you call government requiring private organizations that they must use their speech {money is speech} to represent private individuals who do not pay for that service?) After dictating to unions and businesses what kind of contract they can have, now this.

    And the small government conservatives are silent. The Tea Party is roaring like a mouse.

  3. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 07/31/2017 - 09:54 am.

    ….Wisconsin is promising to pay Foxconn the equivalent of $66,600 per employee, based on having 3,000 workers in the plant, for each of the next 15 years, while Foxconn is promising pay of less than $54,000 a year…..each Wisconsin household is stuck with a nearly $1,200 bill to subsidize [Foxconn]…

    Great negotiators like Trump and Walker can’t be conned.

  4. Submitted by cory johnson on 07/31/2017 - 10:48 am.

    I’m against TIF….

    But the selective outrage from the leftists is laughable. How many billions have we just given away to subsidize electric and solar companies that would otherwise fail (or did fail in the case of solyndra) in the real world? Musk has gotten over 5 billion. I get it. Subsidies are great if they help your interests, but otherwise they are an outrage.
    That being said, I wouldn’t like this deal were I a WI resident. Granted its better than a stadium boondoggle but not by much.

    • Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 07/31/2017 - 12:17 pm.


      To jumpstart new industries are common. Think of the tax bemreaks that were given to big oil to drill nationally. The problem is when those subsidies go on ad infinatum. Solar was a fast growing industry, one that was going much faster than fossil fuel. Until, that is, the trumpet ministration interfered and started passing regulations that hinder these new industries because they competed with fossil feels. More jobs were created in the solar industry in the past five years then in coal and fossil fuel.

      The point is in this article is the Foxconn deal will neverturn a net profit for the state. And the state and the world already have plenty of electronics factories, this project is nothing new. You do wish the edge on the same concern when Emerson electronics left the state.

      This deal is done solely as a prop up Scott Walker and his promise to bring jobs to Wisconsin. He left out the statement “no matter what the cost”.

      That is the difference

      • Submitted by cory johnson on 07/31/2017 - 01:32 pm.

        The difference is which party gets the benefit

        Let’s talk about a profit for the state. Light rail? Solar farms? Tax rebates for luxury electric cars ironically powered mostly by coal? Liberals get very concerned about turning a profit when it won’t get them votes. I agree it’s a bad deal for taxpayers. But so is everything I listed unless you consider the goal is really to get votes. That’s the entire point of TIF: getting votes and donations.

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