On the KSTP program “Patrick Reusse & Company,” Minnesota senate majority leader (and former chairman of the senate tax committee) Larry Pogemiller was asked what the Minnesota corporate tax rate is.

“Oh, gosh,” said Pogemiller. “Four, five or six percent I think. What’s important though … it is one of the highest rates in the country … but when you work in all the deductions and ways to write off various expenses, Minnesota ranks below, below the middle in terms of corporate taxes paid in the nation.”

Apparently Pogemiller hadn’t yet read the Governor’s 21st Century Tax Reform Commission report he was commenting on.

On page 16 of the commission report one finds that Minnesota’s combined state and federal statutory rate is 41.1 percent, the third highest corporate tax rate in the world. That compares to an average tax rate of $26.2 percent among OECD members. Minnesota’s corporate tax rate is 9.8 percent. The top federal corporate tax is 35 percent.

The problem, here, is not the Pogemiller got a number wrong. That’s forgivable. The problem is, he didn’t even try to get it right. The actual corporate income tax rate is irrelevant to the senator. So are the economic underpinnings of the commission report. Listen to the entire Reusse interview and it’s obvious that Pogemiller has little more to offer on tax policy than populist rhetoric. That level of discourse is okay sitting at a downtown bar, but it’s a poor pick-up line coming from the man guiding the legislative strategy of the majority party in the Legislature.

This is not the first time the senate majority leader has wed arrogance to ignorance. In a 2006 tax committee meeting to resolve the “marriage penalty” in the Minnesota tax code, then tax committee chairman Pogemiller was surprised to learn that Minnesota no longer allows income averaging and that unlike the federal government, Minnesota taxes capital gains as ordinary income. His response was, well, that’s why people hire accountants (as if we might not things to do with our money that are better for us and provide more social value than paying someone to tell us how much we owe in taxes).

There are philosophical and political exceptions one might take to the report of the Tax Reform Commission, but if one is going to criticize the report, one ought to have at least read the report and have some factual knowledge of what one is talking about. Especially if you’re the senate majority leader.