Friday :: Apr 22, 2005

Dogma Don't Pay Da Bills!

by pessimist

Religion - or at least discussion of entrenched belief systems - seems to be the thread of most discussions this week. One topic near and dear to conservatives everywhere that attains a near-religious status is that of cutting taxes.

Owwer Leeder, the C-Average Sovereign himself, King George of the United Red States of Tex-@$$, likes to remind us that 'It's your money'. Republicans all over the nation recite the sacred mantra, and often manage to pass tax cut legislation.

So what are we to expect for all of those GOP governors around the nation who break ranks with their ideology and go hat-in-hand to their legislatures and ask them to raise more money through taxes?

Gov. Bill Owens (R-CO) has been crisscrossing the country for years promoting the virtues of this state's strict constitutional limits on government spending. But this summer, Owens says, he'll be traversing his own mountainous state pushing the opposite message. Midway through his second term, Owens is working to persuade Coloradans to suspend the limits he championed and let the state government spend $3 billion more in tax money than Colorado's "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" (TABOR) would allow.

Republican governors including Nevada's Kenny Guinn, Idaho's Dirk Kempthorne, Georgia's Sonny Perdue and Ohio's Bob Taft have dumped no-new-taxes pledges to push for major new revenue and increased state spending.

Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. (R-IN), who was President Bush's first budget director and an outspoken advocate of lower taxes -- until he was elected governor of Indiana last November. In his first state budget, Daniels recently proposed a 29 percent increase in the income tax, targeted at the upper brackets. Daniels cited a $250 million revenue shortfall and said spending cuts of that size were untenable.

"The federal cuts have been very difficult for states to manage," said economist Bert Waisanen of the National Conference of State Legislatures. "Governors have to run programs like Medicaid, No Child Left Behind, homeland security. But there is less and less money coming from Washington to pay the bills."

Welcome to reality, conservatives!

Cry as you might, conservatives, Robert Heinlein was correct when he wrote in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress 'TANSTAAFL'. You guys want fewer taxes, then to be fair you must inform the rest us which of the services those taxes pay for you are willing to do without.

Think of all of the blather your side spewed out over estate taxes. As statistics showed, few estates are big enough to pay that tax, and those that were subject to it weren't really going to feel it much anyway. Are you on the wrong-wing side of things so inured to the idea that only you deserve the benefits of your wealth that you would deny them to others through tax cuts?

In that case, go fight your own oil wars! They don't benefit me and I don't see you paying for it!

But I digress. This post is about those GOP governors around the nation who cannot afford to ignore their taxpayers - I mean, supporters - who are complaining that their benefits - er, government services - are being cut. As this next post shows, too many 'conservatives' want their cake - and yours too:

Budget hole may doom spending plan

Today’s vote on the $8.6 billion [New Hampshire] state operating budget could be in jeopardy after a $15 million hole developed Tuesday to which House members turned a blind eye and senators were quick to point out. During a meeting of the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee Tuesday morning, Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen asked the panel to approve $15 million in transfers from the current budget’s surplus to his department.
The problem is that House budget writers were counting on a $28 million surplus to plug into the next budget.
Taking away the $15 million would create a hole in the proposed spending plan.

By not approving the transfer, the numbers in the budget proposal don’t reflect a deficit. However, Stephen warned the panel that if the money was not approved as of Tuesday his department would have to halt Medicaid reimbursement payments to hospitals and doctors.

“We are going to have to stop certain payments,” Stephen told reporters after the meeting. “It just means the providers will go without being paid for a certain amount of time.”

Democrats may not vote for the budget. Add those 148 votes to a block of conservatives who are opposed to the cigarette tax hike and a budget they feel spends too much, and the spending plan may fail.

But House Speaker Doug Scamman [What a great name for a Republican! SCAM Man!] said Tuesday afternoon he believed the House would approve the budget and the 28-cent tobacco tax hike, which will be used for education funding. “This is a very viable budget,” said the Stratham Republican. “I also suspect the House will pass the cigarette tax. That cigarette tax is absolutely necessary.”

But there still remain those who refuse to concede an inch on either spending for programs that they favor or reversing the tax cuts which make it impossible to pay for them, as all of the GOP luminaries I've cited above can attest. As goes Maine, so goes the nation:

The Tax Chance

A news story the other day pointed out that yet another no-tax governor had experienced the epiphany that ruining public services in order to save a buck was shortsighted or, worse, destructive. The Washington Post this week follows many others that report on Republican governors who begin certain they can chase out waste fraud and abuse to balance their budgets and then meet reality.

The result has been tax increases proposed or at least not opposed by Republican governors in Nevada, Idaho, Indiana, Georgia, Arkansas and Ohio. The Post adds to that list Gov. Bill Owens of Colorado, a political evangelist of the "Taxpayer Bill of Rights," which restricts spending constitutionally and has left Colorado, according to the governor, some $3 billion short of needed expenditures. He is now trying to persuade residents to lift the restrictions.

It isn't just Republican governors, of course, who raise taxes - it's just that they're newsworthy. Democrats face similar problems and likely will react similarly. For instance, all governors face an unavoidable challenge: the federal government, having made tax cuts a priority, has less money available for state grants. Excluding Medicaid, grants proposed for 2006 are $31 billion lower than in 2001 as a percentage of the economy. Federal mandates aren't going away, but the funds to pay for them are slipping.

Even Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan insists that taxes are going to be raised:

Greenspan Says He Expects Tax Increases
Friday, April 22, 2005

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said yesterday, for the first time explicitly, that he expects tax increases to be part of any eventual agreement to reduce the federal budget deficit.

Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.) said he believed it was "fair to consider how your message would be taken" and that lawmakers saw Greenspan's 2001 remarks as "providing a green light" for tax cuts, which were enacted without triggers.

"I plead guilty to that," Greenspan said. "If indeed that is the way it was interpreted, I missed it. In other words, I did not intend it that way."

The deficit hit a record $412 billion last year and is projected to expand dramatically as the huge baby boom generation starts retiring and collecting Social Security and Medicare benefits.

So here we are, conservatives. Make your proposals as to what you want to delete from the Federal budget.

We already know that you intend to toss the retired overboard, and that veterans are only important to you if they can still tote a rifle at age 84, so what do they need with medical care?

The only things that school kids need to know is which end of the bullet goes in first and where it comes out of the barrel, so let's eliminate school funding also.

We can eliminate welfare and force all of those slackers to join the military, which can't seem to entice them to enlist any other way. We can then cut all of those funds allocated to enlistment advertising!

But let's not force Ford and GM to increase the CAFE standards of their fleets even though they aren't making cars people want to buy in a time of rising fuel costs.

Let's not cut any funds that protect producers of MTBE and asbestos from lawsuits.

Let's also not cut any of the oil war reconstruction funds that are disappearing faster than ethics in the House.

While we're at it, let's piss away another $82 billion for the war itself!

Those things are vital for the good of the (multi-)nation!

So in the spirit of reducing our national budget by eliminating services so that we can cut your taxes, lets remember the closing comment of the Bangor Daily News:

This requires the two parties to work together to help Maine, which doesn't seem like asking too much.

As goes Maine, ...

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pessimist :: 5:46 AM :: Comments (5) :: Digg It!