Oh, the lies you’ll be told!

Note: Farther down is a complete break-down of a constituent letter from Rep. Klint Kesto, who voted for the tax proposal and defends his actions having done so. LATP knows that some of you have been waiting for us to post it. It’s here!
The Lansing politicians who voted last November to put the May 5 proposal to raise the state sales, gas, and vehicle taxes and activate a plethora of unrelated laws are hard to find these days. Apparently they’re being confronted by more angry voters than they were expecting.

Some have gone into hiding.  Others are repenting.

But some of them are sticking to their guns, and in defending the indefensible, saying what they only wish is the truth.

Here are some of the most common myths, misstatements, and misdirection ploys by the politicians pushing for the May 5 tax increases.

Keep a copy of this email handy in case you run into a politician peddling these put-ons.

Myth: “We need to pass Proposal 1 because we can’t wait any longer to fix the roads.”

Fact: Proposal 1 stalled any solution to fix the roads, and the legislature continues to stall fixing the roads. Nothing in the May proposal fixes the roads that couldn’t be passed now, next week, or a month ago.

The legislature could have passed a road funding plan instead of passing the ballot proposal last December, and they could pass a road funding plan today.

In fact–and this will amaze you–nothing in the constitutional amendment Proposal 1 would adopt provides any road funding at all!

That’s right–the funding for roads is contained within the package of ten laws, passed concurrently with the proposal, that don’t take effect unless the proposal passes.  But those are not part of the constitutional amendment, and could be repealed, modified, or enacted unconditionally.

The state legislature could, at any time, repeal those laws.  It could amend them.  Those that aren’t awaiting for the constitutional amendment to be lawful could be passed right now.

The legislature could pass last year’s House-approved plan to fund roads without raising taxes, without any constitutional amendment, if they were moved to.

Proposal 1 did nothing but postpone any solution for nearly five months.  And the legislature could act tomorrow to fix the roads.
Myth: There is no “Plan B” to fix the roads if Proposal 1 fails.

Fact: There’s Plan B, C, D, and more in the works.  

This myth expects us to accept that every lawmaker has placed all of his or her eggs into the Proposal 1 basket.

This is, first of all, completely untenable.

We are actually being told to believe that lawmakers are just standing idly with no plan in the certainly possible, perhaps even likely event that the proposal is rejected by voters.

Could any legislator (or governor) seriously look a constituent in the eye and say, “I’ve placed my complete faith in voters approving the May 5 tax increases, and if they don’t, we have no idea what we’ll do about the situation?”

Can it be that not one of 148 state legislators would think to be constructive and proactive and come up with a plan to fund roads if the constitutional amendment on the ballot is rejected?

It cannot.  The myth is not only untenable, but incredible.

Senator Pat Colbeck, for example, has a “Road Funding Plan” prominently displayed on the home page of his website.  It describes four possible plans.  One of those plans was adopted by the state House last year.

And Rep. Gary Glenn has announced he will introduce alternative proposals, saying he is “seriously considering” reintroducing the last year’s plan in the House to raise $1.2 billion in funding for roads without raising any taxes.

There will be a Plan B, C, D, and E before May 5.  Count on it.

You heard it here first.

Myth“This proposal is necessary to make certain that money collected from gas taxes will go to roads.”

Fact: There are countless legislative workarounds to accomplish this without amending the state Constitution, and none of the other laws tie-barred to the May 5 proposal are necessary if this is the goal.  

It’s an important fact that Michigan pays the highest gas taxes for among the least road funding, because this explains why are roads are in such bad shape despite such high gas taxes.

But it’s utterly false that the only way to spend the amount of revenue raised by gas taxes on roads is to raise gas taxes or any other tax.  It can be accomplished simply by marking that level of revenue for roads, and not spending it elsewhere.

Want all the top politicians’ lines debunked?

See below.  I’m attaching this separately because it gets a little personal at the end, but if you’re looking for arrows in your rhetorical quiver for debating the proposal pushers, please read on.

Stay tuned for more myth-busting on the Michigan Tax Hike Proposal, brought to you by Concerned Taxpayers of Michigan.

Thanks for reading, and remember to vote “NO” to massive tax hikes for special interests on May 5.

For a better Michigan,

Christian Andersen
Director of Grassroots Response
Concerned Taxpayers of Michigan

P.S.  Here’s the complete break-down of a constituent letter from Rep. Klint Kesto, who voted for the tax proposal and defends his actions having done so:

Case Study: False statements, misdirection, and excuses from Rep. Klint Kesto

Let’s look at a recent letter from Rep. Klint Kesto, who voted for the May 5 tax hike proposal and will not attend a large event in his district discussing the proposal.

We’ll break it down point by point:

[Image: scanned image of statement by Rep. Klint Kesto.  Enable images in your email to view it.]

This is a half-hearted attempt to pass the buck.  It’s been over four years since Jennifer Granholm and the Democrats were in power, but according to Rep. Kesto, it’s their fault the roads were so bad in the first place, and despite heroically “struggling” to find resources for roads, in four years Republicans were unable to find a solution.

The fact is, House Republicans passed a road funding plan last year that would have fixed roads without raising taxes.  The Senate responded by passing a plan that would have raised taxes by $1.2 billion.  Lawmakers could have supported the House plan, which was superior, or they could have even compromised and raised taxes by half the amount proposed by the Senate.  They could have adjourned and picked up where they left off the next month, January 2015.

Instead, at the last minute of session in 2014, they punted the issue to voters with a $2 billion tax increase on the May 5 ballot.

That was their decision, and nobody else’s.

Kesto:

[Image: scanned image of statement by Rep. Klint Kesto.  Enable images in your email to view it.]

The plan approved during the last legislative session includes $260 million in wealth redistribution–the “Earned Income Tax Credit”–it includes money for the “School Aid Fund” that is paying for the new Red Wings arena, and it frees up $340 million in the general fund to go wherever lawmakers please.

The average person would therefore name the above statement a falsehood.  But I’m sure it wasn’t lost on attorney Kesto that “gimmicks,” “pork,” and “waste” are all subject to interpretation.

It is, however, quite a fib to say that the new tax money would “direct revenue precisely to our local and state roads,” when only half of the money is even going in that direction.

Kesto:

[Image: scanned image of statement by Rep. Klint Kesto.  Enable images in your email to view it.]

Only a legislator would consider ongoing relationships with lobbyists and colleagues “years of work.”

The public never asked for tax increases.  The public only asked for roads to be repaired.  It was the legislature that insisted on tax increases.  The proposal was negotiated in the final hours of last year’s session, with no input from the public, and the proposal was a complete surprise to the public and to the media.

What Kesto really means is that the Republican legislature cut deals with the Democrats for their support and threw in enough incentives for various interests to put their skin in the game ($300 million for schools, $100 million for local governments).

Kesto:

[Image: scanned image of statement by Rep. Klint Kesto.  Enable images in your email to view it.]

This is misleading, since the entire proposal pushed back any possible action until May, when the legislature could have enacted legislation last year, or even last month, or any other time to fix the roads.

This is also a veiled threat that if the proposal isn’t passed, road repairs could be set back as much as another entire year.

Kesto:

[Image: scanned image of statement by Rep. Klint Kesto.  Enable images in your email to view it.]

This is another another intentionally misleading point, prominently peddled by the tax proposal’s pushers.

What matters to taxpayers is how much tax is collected, how it is collected, and how funds are ultimately distributed–not how they swirl around in Lansing for any number of legal or political reasons.

And besides, the plan the House passed last year would have committed money from gas taxes for roads, without raising taxes and without amending the state constitution, by simply replacing retail gas taxes with wholesale taxes.

Kesto:

[Image: scanned image of statement by Rep. Klint Kesto.  Enable images in your email to view it.]

One of the most important political calculations in having the voters decide Proposal 1 was the thinking that if the proposal was adopted, the public would mistakenly pardon the politicians for putting it on the ballot in the first place because they were only doing what “the people” wanted.

The truth is, the elected officials that voted for the proposal expected they were setting a situation in motion where the interests that would profit so handsomely from the proposal’s passage would take care of getting voters to pass the plan.

We here at Concerned Taxpayers of Michigan hope to prove their predictions wrong. But if they win. the politicians will claim that the voters are entirely responsible for the outcome, when in fact they were the ones who created the surrounding circumstances.

In essence the entire proposal is an exercise in passing the buck.  Rep. Kesto has the temerity to call putting tax hikes to voters “empowering.”

The Republican Party Platform of 2012 states: “Taxes, by their very nature, reduce a citizen’s freedom.”

By Kesto’s tortured logic, voters are being empowered to reduce their own freedom.

Kesto:

[Image: scanned image of statement by Rep. Klint Kesto.  Enable images in your email to view it.]

Kesto falsely states that the proposal would increase the sales tax by “one percent.” Surely Rep. Kesto, an attorney and politician, knows the difference between one percent and one percentage point.  The sales tax increase from 6% to 7% is a 16.7% increase.

And besides being a condescending explanation of why we all use roads, notice this raises the question of why, when gas tax money is being put to roads, we still need so much more sales tax money for roads, too.

Kesto:

[Image: scanned image of statement by Rep. Klint Kesto.  Enable images in your email to view it.]

…Which is why voters should be furious that lawmakers, instead of fixing our roads, are demanding voters approve tax increases if they want them fixed, essentially holding our roads and people’s lives hostage to these tax increases.

Kesto:

[Image: scanned image of statement by Rep. Klint Kesto.  Enable images in your email to view it.]

This is another angle on the false choice between higher taxes or bad roads.  The subtext is, “you’re going to pay one way or another, but it’ll be easier for you just to pay us.”  It’s more shake-down rhetoric, dressed up as an economic calculation.

And again, the fact the House proved last year they can fund road repairs without raising taxes shows this for what it is: a shake-down.

Kesto:

[Image: scanned image of statement by Rep. Klint Kesto.  Enable images in your email to view it.]

This is the most egregious example of passing the buck in a letter that has done this several times already.  The two plans in 2014 to fund roads without raising taxes “did not clear the necessary Lansing hurdles” because the House buckled and voted to put Proposal 1 on the ballot! 

In vague words written the passive voice, Kesto bemoans that “how we got there was the subject of much debate” and “there was much disagreement.”

Right.  There were principled leaders who stood strong–Senator Jack Brandenburg, who tweeted today that he will vote No on the May 5 tax proposal, and voted against putting it on the ballot last December–comes to mind.

And then there were representatives like Klint Kesto, who buckled under pressure to vote to put the tax proposal on the ballot:

[Image: scanned image of statement by Rep. Klint Kesto.  Enable images in your email to view it.]

This is another technique to pass the buck to voters. Anything forbidden by the state constitution, the legislature is “constitutionally bound to let the voters decide.”  Why doesn’t Rep. Kesto support letting the voters decide on removing every other limitation on legislative power, if that’s the standard he sets for supporting such measures?

Also, the proposal allocates no more than a billion dollars annually to improve Michigan roads when the $340 million redirected out of the general fund since 2014 is taken into consideration.

Kesto:

[Image: scanned image of statement by Rep. Klint Kesto.  Enable images in your email to view it.]

That’s nice, but a distraction.  Minor transparency details on project bidding is of little interest to voters who are facing a $2 billion tax increase.

[Image: scanned image of statement by Rep. Klint Kesto.  Enable images in your email to view it.]

Besides the first sentence being badly ungrammatical, it’s also illogical.  The vehicle registration fee increases will affect all vehicles, not just electric ones.  And even if the statement wasn’t completely wrong, it’s a warped view that holds that electric vehicle owners are some kind of tax-dodgers whose loophole needs to be closed.  As if energy isn’t taxed already!

Kesto:
[Image: scanned image of statement by Rep. Klint Kesto.  Enable images in your email to view it.]

Regulatory reform is an unrelated issue.  Kesto is grasping for reasons for voters to pardon him for the “disagreement” on the tax hike proposal.  Yet he makes no effort to point out any particular accomplishment he’s responsible for, when it was the entire Republican caucus as a body that worked to roll back these regulations.  He takes credit for everybody’s work.

[Image: scanned image of statement by Rep. Klint Kesto.  Enable images in your email to view it.]

Another attempt to score Brownie points.  The “How To Appeal Your Property Tax” presentation is a standby to give constituents a show.

[Image: scanned image of statement by Rep. Klint Kesto.  Enable images in your email to view it.]

Representative Kesto, hear me now: your constituents are your boss, not your spouse. You have no standing to demand we “compromise” by giving you a pass for voting for massive tax increases.

You do not get any chips for not voting to control and diminish our lives on other issues, that you can cash in as “compromise” on massive tax increases.

After a pack of lies, misdirections, distortions, distractions, and excuses, you close by comparing your relationship to your constituents with a marriage.

I sincerely hope, Rep. Kesto, you treat your family with greater respect than you treat your constituents here.

Sincerely,

Christian Andersen
Concerned Taxpayers of Michigan