Sunday, October 08, 2006

How to Dance Like Dick: Today's lesson- the SBT Shuffle

Pay attention. This one gets tricky in spots, and incorporates many different moves taken from all forms of traditional Republican dance. For your convenience, the moves to the SBT Shuffle are recorded here, starting at 35:38 on the tape.

Are you properly warmed up? Good. Let's begin.

Cue the band. A-one, a-two, a-three...

Question: Mr. DeVos, how much do you favor replacing, once we do away with the SBT, and if it is a billion dollars short of what we are currently taking in, where do you propose we make a billion dollars worth of cuts?

Simplified; how much replaced, where do we cut.

Now watch as Dick does the SBT Shuffle, complete with notes to help you learn the steps.

DeVos: Well, Charlie... um... I think... uh... the Governor once again is... uh... it's just... it's just, it's just so disappointing to hear continued references to what happened four years ago... and when violent crime is up 12% as you point out just last year...

Start your dance with words that have nothing to do with the question before you. Step to the side, and then step to the side again, totally changing direction as you go.

"I want a governor who is going to take responsibility and is going to step up and fix things and move us forward and not blame Washington and blame everywhere else, the citizens of Michigan are pretty good at figuring out blame, they know how to get that done..."

Notice how far removed we are from the question now.

Next, throw in a "Platitude Pirouette"...

"... what they want, they want solutions, and they want answers, and they want their streets safe and they want our children to be protected and that's critically important..."

And now, bring it back with a "Lindy Hop Leap" to the home position.

"And that's why I've proposed a SBT replacement."

This should throw your competition for a loop. (Granholm: You have?) Jump up and down in place at this point.

"I've been very, very clear about a SBT replacement plan and here are the components..."

For the next part of the dance you simply repeat the same words in random order in a flurry of sentences designed to create the "Ibo Illusion" that you are saying something different each time.

"Number one is it needs to be a business based tax. Now there are some who have advocated otherwise, but I said replace the business tax with a business tax."

A tax on business.

"Second thing... don't go over and try to penalize or tax the families of Michigan, keep it focused on business."

A tax on business.

"Three: I've said at least the majority of the income has to be replaced, now we have to work out the details of how... where that level is to assure the next component that is a broad based competitive tax that is going to serve the people of Michigan and job creation."

A tax on business that is competitive.

Nice flurry there- in three steps you have managed to go nowhere at all while magically suggesting that you have!

Next- the "Pavane Pounce", a dramatic move that ends with a proclamation that something bad is actually something good. Very tricky for beginners.

"This is a tax that has driven jobs out of Michigan. It's good that it's gone. I'm proud to have taken it out."

You have disrupted the whole dance floor at this point, creating uncertainity among the crowd and even upset the owners of the dance hall.

Not a problem! Simply restate the original question put before you, complete with a sideways kick at the competition!

"... and now I'm pleased for the discussion to it for a solution, I haven't heard the Governor's specific plan to replace the SBT either.

(Granholm: let me be specific then, happy to tell you)

But it's very important that we get on with this to settle this and to bring certainty to the people of Michigan. The SBT is gone and let's move on to the replacement. I've put forward a specific plan."

And that is the SBT Shuffle. Let's hear what the judge has to say...

In the role of Simon Cowell, we have DFP journalist Brian Dickerson.

But DeVos has stubbornly refused to talk about his own plans, conceding only that the doomed SBT will have to be replaced with some sort of corporate levy that captures "about half" the revenues the old tax generated.

In lieu of alternatives, the Republican nominee offers excuses, delegating surrogates to write Op-Ed pieces explaining why no gubernatorial candidate can assess the relative merits of various tax schemes until he has access to the tax returns of every private employer in the state.

DeVos also refuses to disclose what government functions he'd eliminate or curtail to cut the $950 million or so he'd like to return to corporate taxpayers.

He glibly quotes Lee Iacocca's observation that any CEO who can't cut overall spending by 5% ought to be sent packing. But SBT revenues account for a far larger proportion of state spending than that -- about one in every five discretionary spending dollars. In that context, Iacocca's remark is just another evasion.

Even four months ago, when I first asked DeVos which government functions he'd forsake to slash businesses taxes -- or which other class of taxpayers he'd ask to make up the slack -- I thought his unwillingness to address the question squarely was lame.

Now, with the election a month away, his continuing evasions are downright insulting.

Ouch. The SBT Shuffle gets a big thumbs down. Thanks for playing, Dick.

Coming in the future: the Family Values Foxtrot. Be sure and tune in next time as Dick shows us how to dance slowly away from the conservative base without them noticing- your next lesson in the on-going series, "How to Dance Like Dick". Check your local listings.