Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fiscal Hackery FTW

Can you smell the seriousity?
Wisconsin's Republican governor, Scott Walker, says that concern over his state's relatively modest budget crisis motivates his drive to strip public-sector employees of their ability to bargain collectively. And, yet, he just decided to put Wisconsin into a fiscal strait-jacket, signing a bill Tuesday that would require a two-thirds supermajority in the state legislature or a state-wide referendum to raise a range of taxes. This is not the sign of a serious budget hawk, whatever you think of Walker's policies on public-sector unions.

I'm not sure how serious to take any one on the question of deficits (I'm not sure how much I care about the topic myself). But with Republicans, I really think it's difficult to even draw a coherent line through their fiscal positions. They support slashing public programs to groups they don't like, but they turn around and plow the savings back into tax breaks for the wealthy -- a massively regressive upwards wealth distribution. None of it goes into deficit reduction. And of course, there are plenty of governmental spending categories -- particularly on the federal level (defense) but also in terms of state-subsidies -- that Republicans absolutely refuse to cut.

Democrats may not be interested in cutting spending (though I'm sure they have their list of programs worth cutting -- starting with overblown weapons budgets and continuing over to abstinence-only education), but at least they're willing to support the tax rates necessary to pay for their ambitions.

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