No Es Una Buena Idea

By February 13, 2007Energy

Revenue-hungry Governor Jim Doyle, like so many Wisconsin — and Latin American — populists before him, has decided that he can run businesses better than the owners and executives who, actually, you know, run them.

Commandante Zero’s new budget proposes a 2.5 percent tax on every barrel intended for sale in Wisconsin, estimated to bring in $272 million over the next biennium for transportation projects. Roads are traditionally funded by fuels taxes, but Doyle is aware drivers don’t want to pay more at the pump. So he’ll make it a crime for the oil companies to pass on the tax to consumers.

Really. Doyle wants to criminalize — six months in jail! — a basic business function, making it illegal for oil company executives to manage their operations and fulfill their financial responsibilities. El Jefe avers:

It seems to me that these companies that have had such a big killing – and this is money that has come directly out of the pockets of the people of Wisconsin and the people of the United States – they ought to be doing their share to help with the infrastructure needs.

Because these companies are profitable, we’ll tax them until they bleed, and if they resist or even respond prudently, we’ll throw their executives in jail.

The idea is preposterous, outrageous and most-likely illegal. That no one has laughed Doyle out of the marketplace of ideas is a surprise and pretty depressing.

At any rate, El Commandante has a big sales job ahead of him. Maybe he can get Joe Kennedy to help.

UPDATE: Associated Press story here. And a belated hat tip to Jim Taranto and his Best of the Web column at

UPDATE 2 (6:10 p.m.): Blogger Dennis at Lower points us to the U.S. Supreme Court case, Exxon Corp. v. Eagerton, which overturned an Alabama tax on natural gas, saying its prohibition on passing on the tax to consumers was superseded by federal law. Not fully apposite, we think.