Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tim Pawlenty: Problem Solver

Gov Pawlenty and the DFL controlled legislature reached a compromise yesterday in which the DFL gave Pawlenty nearly everything he asked for. Pawlenty had previously vetoed DFL proposals that increased revenues as well as making deep cuts to put the budget on more stable footing. Pawlenty rejected those, and the budget we got is balanced this year by putting off difficult decisions, making even deeper temporary cuts in essential services, and borrowing. Two-thirds of the "solution" merely involved putting off a ~$2bn education payment for a year. As a result, the next governor will come into office looking at a whopping $5.8bn deficit. Pawlenty did the equivalent of sticking some chewing gum in a crack on the dam. Next year that chewing gum will fall off and the dam will start to crumble.

In addition, many of the one-year cuts enacted were aid to local governments, which will now need to find new ways of replacing that revenue. Many of the municipalities will raise local property taxes. More teachers, police officers, and firemen will be laid off. Conservatives decry raising taxes in a recession, but they're willing to put people out of work in a state where there are 10 people unemployed for every job opening.

This obsession with making small cuts and not addressing underlying problems is endemic. Rep. Eric Cantor's YouCut contest allows people to vote on programs to cut that he promises to bring up to a vote. The programs amount to just under $6bn, when our deficit this year is over $1.5tn. The winning program, by the way, is a program that is one of the most effective at creating jobs, though you would never know it by reading its description on Cantor's site.

Really, anyone who wants to take on deficits and keeps talking about "non-defense discretionary spending" and "wasteful" spending is nothing but a deficit peacock. They're not serious and shouldn't be taken as such.

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