Sunday, December 21, 2008

Who Has the Burden of Proof? Governor or his Critics

Governor Ted Strickland is about to veto a bill that would have established tax credits for movie production companies to set up shop in Ohio. The companies getting these tax credits could then sell them to other companies to use. Strickland and his Lt. Governor, Lee Fisher, object to this idea and maintain that the state cannot afford it when it is facing a deficit in its revenues, a deficit that has been estimated at between 500 million and one billion dollars.

Today, December 20, 2009, both the Akron Beacon Journal and the Cleveland Plain Dealer carried opinion columns or editorials blasting the Governor for his planned veto. The Beacon's Dennis Willard, who reports from Columbus for the Beacon, called the Strickland administration "whiners" and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, in its editorial, called Strickland anti-Cleveland. Interestingly in both papers the justification for supporting the tax credit provision was that while Ohio would lose tax revenues, it would gain jobs.

Interestingly enough, however, neither article set forth any analysis of how many jobs would be created versus how much would be lost in tax revenue. This brings up the question, who has the burden of proof? Is the burden of proof on the sponsors of the legislation to show that the loss of tax revenue is worth it in terms of jobs created, or is the burden of proof on the Governor to show that the loss of tax revenue is too much when compared to the potential number of jobs created?

We think it is on those who would cut tax revenue at at time when the State of Ohio is facing massive budget deficits. It is impossible to have a informed debate on the Governor's proposed veto when neither the bill's Republican sponsors nor their media allies can tell people how many jobs would be created versus the tax revenue that would be lost.

This problem, of course, is nothing new. Ever since the 1980s when Ronald Reagan promised that tax cuts would actually lead to more tax revenue, a proposition that was shown to be totally bogus when the Federal deficit exploded under St. Ronnie, the media has never challenged Republicans on their claims about the supposed benefits of tax cuts.

Why? Because the corporations that own media companies and the executives who run them like tax cuts, especially tax cuts tilted toward the wealthy. Because they like these tax cuts, they never demand that Republicans produce the proof that their tax cuts result in benefits to the economy as a whole.

The column by Dennis Willard and the editorial by the Cleveland Plain Dealer are just one more example of this behavior. In their minds, the burden of proof is not on the Republicans who would deprive Ohio of tax revenue when it is facing a deficit but on the Democratic Governor who thinks that we can't afford such a tax credit. That position is simply ridiculous.

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