Not that the truth has much to do with anything these days, but E.J. Dionne nails it: It’s a lot easier to keep cutting than it is to come up with real solutions. Of course, the current austerity trend has much more to do with the long-term political interests of the Republican’ts, and not the actual needs of the economy:
If you want to get national attention as a governor these days, don’t try to be innovative about solving the problems you were elected to deal with – in education, transportation and health care. No, if you want ink and television time, just cut and cut and cut some more.
Almost no one in the national media is noticing governors who say the reasonable thing: that state budget deficits, caused largely by drops in revenue in the economic downturn, can’t be solved by cuts or tax increases alone.
There is nothing courageous about an ideological governor hacking away at programs that partisans of his philosophy, including campaign contributors, want eliminated. That’s staying in your comfort zone.
The brave ones are governors such as Jerry Brown in California, Dan Malloy in Connecticut, Pat Quinn in Illinois, Mark Dayton in Minnesota and Neil Abercrombie in Hawaii. They are declaring that you have to cut programs, even when your own side likes them, and raise taxes, which nobody likes much at all. Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chafee has warned of possible tax increases too.
Indeed, to the extent that Quinn received any national press coverage, he got pilloried in conservative outlets in January when he signed tax hikes that included a temporary increase in Illinois’ individual income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent.
Despite all the commotion around whether the federal government will shut down, the clamor in the states may be even more important than what’s happening in Washington, which is missing in action on the moment’s most vital fiscal question.
What states are doing to ease their fiscal agonies will only slow down our fragile economic recovery, and may stop it altogether. The last thing we need right now are state and local governments draining jobs and money from the economy, yet that is what they are being forced to do.
As the last three monthly reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed, an economy that created a net 317,000 private-sector jobs lost 70,000 state and local government jobs. Cutbacks are dead weight on the recovery.