Sgouros’s Music to Delusional Ears
Having spent some time in the trenches over the past half-decade, arguing the finer points of Tom Sgouros’s economic analysis, as he compiled it one spun conclusion upon another, I have to say that his candidacy for General Treasurer has been a learning experience. It’s as if, by the time the collection of molded conclusions reaches the length of a book, people believe it carries its own credibility — or at any rate, it would be quite a task to take it apart. So, they convey it mainly as an opinion to which they offer no response.
Consider Ed Fitzpatrick’s recent column:
Sgouros believes the dominant narrative has produced the wrong diagnosis of what ails Rhode Island and, as a result, “everybody is running around creating the wrong solutions” and “wondering why the problems don’t get fixed.”
As an example, he cited the flat-tax alternative, which helps the state’s wealthiest taxpayers.
“To pay for those tax cuts, the state government has absorbed some of the Obama stimulus money that should have gone to cities and towns, and to schools,” he wrote Tuesday in his Rhode Island Policy Reporter column. “Property taxes have been increased, leaving thousands of working families with even less money to spend. We’ve laid off municipal workers and teachers, and made cuts in education, Medicaid and other services used by ordinary Rhode Islanders. These policies send a clear signal that our leaders in the State House, notwithstanding rhetoric to the contrary, have not really been helping working families in Rhode Island.”
The first thing to note is that even legislators hostile to the flat tax put its cost at barely a double-digit percentage of the state’s current budgetary short fall — let alone next year’s projected deficit. Yet the candidate for treasurer wants us to believe that eliminating it is the key to solving the state’s fiscal woes.
Even more curious is the amount of time that Sgouros has spent arguing, in the past, against the idea that wealthy people are leaving Rhode Island. In fact, their numbers have been increasing, as has the amount of tax that they’ve paid, in both absolute and percentage terms. Of course, he’s ignored the intriguing correspondence of that increase with the enactment of the flat tax and the now erased capital gains tax faze out.
Fitzpatrick should have spent some time reading blogosphere back-arguments. Some interesting questions for his interview might have arisen.
It occurs to me to clarify — just in case — that I’m not implying that Fitzpatrick is among the deluded to whom my title refers.