Joe Ricketts Publishes Pro-Tax Book

Joe Ricketts, the crusty right-wing billionaire who bought his children the Chicago Cubs, has finally found an opinion he’s embarrassed to be associated with.

Ricketts, you may remember, was behind a proposal to spend millions of dollars on ads attacking President Obama for associating with his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. He only gave that idea up after he was exposed by The New York Times and accused of racism.

Now, though, Ricketts is finding himself associated with a truly reprehensible idea: higher taxes.

Ending Spending, a small-government group funded by Ricketts, has just published The Fiscal Cliff, a book by University of Southern California economists Selahattin and Ayse Imrohorglu. However, according to The Los Angeles Times, the Imrohorglus’ book is an argument for higher taxes.

Selahattin, 54, and Ayse, 53, are the authors of “The Fiscal Cliff,” a book published by a Ricketts nonprofit called Ending Spending, which normally ranks Washington politicians by their support of a federal spending cap. The organization released the book last week with great fanfare, announcing that it was sending a copy to every congressional and Senate office in Washington, evidently to advance its position that government is too big and taxes are too high.

That's the point made in the book's introduction by Brian Baker, the president of Ending Spending.

As it happens, however, the Imrohoroglus' book doesn't quite say that. In some respects, their take may be just the opposite: Tax revenues are too low and government can't be shrunk just like that.

“We’ve got tax revenues at 15% of GDP,” Selahattin Imrohoroglu says. “You’ve got to come back to the ’80s and ’90s.” In those decades, tax revenues averaged 19.5% of gross domestic product; were that ratio in place today, it would mean additional revenue for the federal government of more than $700 billion a year, “and then all the gloom and doom projections go away.”

Ricketts wrote in his introduction that “[t]heir solution [to the deficit issue] is a little different from what I had expected.”

That’s the same excuse he gave after the proposal for the Obama ad came out. Ricketts needs to start reading stuff that goes out under his name.  

 This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $2.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.

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