December 23, 2013

Politico’s Kelsey Snell Sloppily Decries Indiana’s Economic Progress, Supposedly at the Expense of Illinois

Kelsey Snell “is a tax reporter at POLITICO Pro.” Her output in a column entitled “Indiana lures ‘Illinoyed’ biz with tax breaks” makes one wonder how she arrived at her current position.

Snell’s piece is riddled with striking omissions and lame progressive talking points. But the most jaw-dropping element in her report is her clear inability to detect erroneous numbers which she and her employer should know make no sense.

One of Snell’s paragraphs has two obvious whoppers (bolds are mine throughout this post):

When (Indiana Commerce Secretary Victor) Smith, a former manufacturing executive, was appointed in January he was given one goal from Pence—adding 2,609,000 private sector jobs. He said the state has added 22,000 jobs since January, though he acknowledged he has a long way to go.

C’mon, Kelsey. The Hoosier State’s total seasonally adjusted private-sector employment was only 2.545 million as of November. Smith’s goal is obviously not to double employment; it’s probably to raise it by 260,000. No one at Politico has detected this obvious blunder since the article’s publication early Saturday evening.

Additionally, Snell’s “22,000 jobs” figure is vastly understated. (If Smith said it, which I tend to doubt, Snell still should have verified it). The state has added 50,800 seasonally adjusted jobs since January. That’s basically on track to achieve Pence’s presumed 260,000-job, four-year goal.

As to omissions, let’s start with the unmentioned fact that Indiana became a right to work state in February 2012 during the administration of Republican Mitch Daniels. Since then, the state has added 89,300 payroll jobs, with 80,000 of them in the private sector. During that same period, Illinois, whose workforce is over twice as large, has added proportionally fewer jobs.

Snell never brought up unemployment rates. Indiana’s seasonally adjusted rate since Republican Mike Pence took office in January has fallen from 8.6 percent to 7.3 percent. The rate in Illinois is still 8.7 percent, barely down from January’s 9.0 percent.

As to progressive talking points, let’s look at Snell’s first few paragraphs:

Illinois is hobbled with a billion dollar budget shortfall, looming pension crisis and politicians flirting with tax hikes.

Neighboring Indiana calls that an opportunity.

The state is making an aggressive bid to lure disgruntled businesses across the border, with a campaign unabashedly asking on billboards and online: “Illinoyed by higher taxes?” They even took out an ad to pitch the message in the 2013-2014 Chicago Bears yearbook.

“It isn’t poaching,” Indiana Commerce Secretary Victor Smith told POLITICO. “People are making informed business decisions.”

States have dueled over business investment for years, but the kind of rate-cutting and other hardball tactics pursued by Gov. Mike Pence is part of a groundswell of efforts from Republican governors.

Illinois may be flirting with tax hikes now, but Snell “somehow” forgets that the state is suffering because of steep tax hikes enacted in early 2011.

And who knew that cutting tax rates is a “hardball tactic”? — especially cuts as modest as the ones Snell identifies:

Since January, Indiana has passed a major tax cut that will trim corporate taxes from 7.5 percent to 6.5 percent by the end of 2015 and cut individual taxes from 3.4 to 3.23 percent by 2017.

A one-point corporate cut and a 0.17-point income tax cut. Oh, the humanity!

The other major progessive talking point is that the Hoosier State is being forced to cut priceless public services and lowering its quality of life playing its competitive games. Here’s Snell’s best evidence of that:

Pence announced that state agencies must put off spending 1.5 percent of their budgets.

Oh my. How will they ever survive a 1.5 percent spending deferral?

Snell predictably found a lefty think-tank spokesperson to weigh in with an observation “in general that income tax levels don’t matter for economic growth.” This of course explains why so many blue-model states and cities have either crossed into or are on the verge of insolvency. She also failed to use any form of the word “Democrat,” despite Illinois’ decay being directly associated with a government dominated by Democrats in the Statehouse and the legislature.

I could go on, but I’ve had quite enough.

If Poltico’s people can’t do any better than this slop passing for economic analysis, they should hang up their keyboards and find other lines of work.

Cross-posted at



  1. I was watching Firing Line last night with Charles Krauthammer, they were replaying parts of Gov. Reagan’s interview with William F. Buckley, Jr.. Reagan was talking about Federalism and the citizens right to vote with their feet when politicians run amuck with their taxation and regulations. He was specifically targeting the notion of common standards desired across the 50 states. Liberals have always hated the idea of the freedom of movement by the prols, it undermines their agenda and abuse of power.

    Comment by dscott8186 — December 23, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

  2. And Gov. Reagan specifically mentioned the Democrat failure of taxation and anti-business policies that then Gov. Romney reversed to pull Michigan out of an economic slump…

    Comment by dscott8186 — December 23, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

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