Despite some gimmickry, four Michigan House Democrats are doing a commendable job of spelling out their differences with Republicans prior to next year’s election.
They are both simplifying the issues involved and citing specifics that define policy objectives.
It is real easy to understand what Gov. Rick Snyder and Republicans did as they took over executive and legislative branches of the government in 2011.
Basically Republicans cut taxes on businesses by about $1 billion annually and raised taxes on individuals by about the same amount through a variety of mechanisms.
By the way, they never would have let former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm get away with it.
Most House Democrats basically want to restore tax credits aimed at individuals. They don’t say how they would make up the lost revenue for government but it is easy to see that they would likely raise taxes on businesses.
"The Republican plan to make middle-class families and seniors pay more in taxes so that corporations could pay virtually none has been a fiasco," said Rep. Jim Townsend, D-Royal Oak. "Michigan’s middle-class has never before been asked to pick up such a large portion of state taxes, and it’s important that people realize just how much more we’re paying. Not only are hard-working families working even harder just to stay afloat, the jobs Republicans promised would come after the corporate tax cuts are nowhere to be seen. The Republican plan is not working."
And that, quite simply, is the issue Michigan voters will settle next year. Do they think Michigan is better off than before Snyder and legislative Republicans took over? Do they think they themselves are better off? Those are usually the questions every election turns on.
The other three Democrats responsible for unveiling what they call the Republican Tax-O-Meter, were Jon Switalski, D-Warren, Adam Zemke, D-Ann Arbor, and Ellen Cogen Lipton, D-Huntington Woods.
"We invite everyone to learn the true cost of Michigan's enormous tax breaks to big corporations," Lipton said. "The shifting tax burden has cost Michigan families billions of dollars and it's causing real pain. It's time for Republicans to undo the tax increases on middle-class families."
Minority House Democrats have already introduced legislation to:
• Repeal the tax on senior retirement income
• Require employers to inform employees about the Earned Income Tax Credit
• Restore the Earned Income Tax Credit to 11 percent in the first year
• Restore the Homestead Property Tax Credit
• Restore the child deduction
Here is a full list of Republican-led changes that Democrats cite as pertaining to individuals:
INCOME TAX RELATED
Freeze Income Tax Rate at 4.25% effective Jan 1, 2013
Modify Public/Private Pension Exemption
Retain Military Pension Exemption
Personal Exemption TY 2012 = $3,700, indexed to inflation
Repeal Senior Interest, Dividend Exemption Age Based
Eliminate Senior & UI Special Exemptions
Eliminate Child Deduction
Eliminate Miscellaneous Subtractions
Retain Renaissance Zone Subtraction
Single Sales Apportionment Factor
Reduce 20% Refundable EITC to 6%
Modify Homestead Property Tax Credit
Modify HSPTC to Exclude Unoccupied Agricultural Property
Eliminate Adoption & Stillbirth Credits
NON-REFUNDABLE CREDIT ELIMINATIONS
City Income Tax Credit
Public Contributions Credit
Community Foundations Credit
Homeless Shelter/Food Bank Credit
Historic Preservation Credit
College Tuition Credit
Vehicle Donation Credit
Individual or Family Development Credit