OPINION

On Michigan taxes, the truth is a stubborn thing

Rob Fowler

There’s an old aphorism about courtroom battles: If the law is on your side, argue the law. If the facts are on your side, argue the facts. If neither is on your side, pound the table.

When it comes to the truth about Michigan’s business tax reform, Gov. Rick Snyder’s opponents are pounding the table, spreading the lie that the benefits of tax reform flow to “the governor’s fat cat corporate friends.”

It’s a purposefully mendacious deceit that treats voters like they are stupid. It’s disappointing because Mark Schauer surely knows the truth: that business tax reform provided economy-growing tax relief not to big businesses but to the small enterprises that are filling jobs and creating economic activity all across Michigan. In fact, under business tax reform, big corporations actually lost tax credits and other tax benefits. Many of the “loopholes” that politicians claim big businesses take advantage of were eliminated.

It’s one thing to disagree on policy — Republicans and Democrats do that all the time. But it’s another thing for campaigns to disseminate cynical and despicable falsehoods. It shows utter contempt for the intelligence of voters.

Why are the governor’s opponents afraid to treat voters like adults? If you think providing $1.8 billion in tax relief to small businesses is bad, explain why. Tell us if you plan to roll back the reform and put these taxes back onto the men and women who provide jobs for us and our neighbors, who sponsor neighborhood sports teams, who support our school activities, who participate in local charitable events. Tell us why you think a massive tax hike on largely middle-class, family-owned small businesses is the right thing to do at a time when our entrepreneurial economy (which employs over half of all Michigan workers) is beginning to gain momentum?

The small business economy is on a clear upward trajectory. Our Small Business Association of Michigan Barometer survey this summer found that nearly a third of small businesses had hired more workers in the past six months. Compare that to three years ago, before business tax reform, when only 12 percent said they increased hiring. Thirty-seven percent of small employers plan to keep the momentum going by hiring more employees in the remainder of the year.

John Adams wrote that “facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

The facts are that business tax reform helps small business, not big business! The evidence is that entrepreneurs are responding to a much improved tax and regulatory climate in the state by increasing hiring, creating jobs and boosting wages, to the benefit of all Michigan citizens.

The Mark Schauer campaign seems to be passionate, not about the stubborn facts, but about pushing a false narrative to voters that corporate CEOs benefited from the Snyder tax reforms. The fact is that it is Michigan small business owners who were helped. Our citizens on Nov. 4 should send a message that they will not tolerate or reward the Democrat’s obfuscating campaign messaging.

Rob Fowler is president and CEO of the Small Business Association of Michigan.