Monday, June 21, 2010

Because It's Worked So Well Before

Both Republican gubernatorial candidates, Mark Neumann and Scott Walker, have made some grand pie-in-the-sky promises about drastic tax cuts, but neither have explained how they would pay for these tax cuts, whether it would be to double down on the deficit or to deny services to some of the state's most vulnerable citizens.

Bill Christofferson, writing at Uppity Wisconsin, notes that a reporter in Wisconsin, Scott Bauer with the AP, has started asking some of the hard questions regarding these issues.

What Mr. Bauer found was not very surprising.

Neumann had nothing:
Neumann said he would limit state agency's annual spending increases to no more than 1 percent less than the rate of inflation, but he hasn't said which ones would be exempt from the reductions or what exactly would be cut.
Scott Walker's wasn't any better. As Bill pointed out, it was nothing more than "a work in progress." Or in other words, "We're making this up as we go along."

Even worse is who he has in his camp acting as his brain trust. One of these trusted allies is Representative Robin "I'm Batman" Vos (R-Crazydonia) who's most recently claim to fame is a letter to the feds saying that he is opposed to jobs coming to Southeastern Wisconsin.

Another one of Walker's advisers is Senator Alberta Darling (R-the nearest golf course), who brought us, and continued to have oversight of the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare. The new child welfare system is costing tax payers tens of millions of dollars more every year and the only things that ever change are the names of the children being abused or killed while in the state's care.

Walker did manage to come up with one specific action plan, which is to attack the unions. But much like his brown bag campaign, it is a much used and reused piece. Walker can't very well run too much on his record in Milwaukee County with things falling apart and a ballooning structural deficit, so he takes the attention off of that by feeding into the hate of unions and public workers, fanned by the raw spewage of talk radio.

In a nutshell, Walker said that he is going to make the public employees pay for part of his tax cuts. On the surface, it sounds like a reasonable plan, and one that would play well in a populist sort of way, especially if the population being targeted are the TEA Party people.

In reality, it hasn't worked so well for him in Milwaukee County. He has often tried to beat the unions into submission and continuously demanded that they give concessions. This hasn't worked out the way he wanted it to. The unions don't take kindly to being threatened or coerced, and would be much more willing to work with Walker at the negotiating table rather than acquiesce to his demands.

And therein lies the rub. If Walker were to sit at the table with the unions to negotiate for them to concede on paying more for their health care or pensions, the unions would want something in return, such as a pay raise or a no lay off clause, neither of which Walker would want to give them.

The only other option for Walker would then be to lay off workers, as he has done in Milwaukee County. One Wisconsin Now states that the number of workers needed to balance a state budget under Walker would be 29,000 jobs, or 42% of the current work force. Even I can't believe Walker would be so foolish as to lay off that many people, but he has laid off so many county workers that it has caused some major problems:
  • Due to being so short-handed, the call center for the Income Maintenance Program couldn't come anywhere near handling the calls coming in. The end result was that the state had to take over the program in order to save tax payers from a class action lawsuit.
  • There has been a regular flood of reports coming from the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division that shows the results of being understaffed, including patients being sexually assaulted by other patients.
  • Likewise, the House of Correction had severe problems with staffing shortages, which led to budget-busting amounts of overtime, burn out, unneeded injuries and at least one death. Things were so bad that HOC was slammed in a federal report and did not show signs of improvement until handed over to the sheriff's office.
The list goes on and on.

Only a fool would deny that taxes are going to play a big part in this falls elections, not only in the state, but across the country. Everyone is for lower taxes.

But when it comes to severe cuts to services, people lose a lot of their enthusiasm. I would think that the winning approach to the tax and spend issue is one that takes a realistic look at how to get things under control, such as cutting frivolous programs and positions, and negotiating real cost cutting contracts with the unions.

We'll see if Neumann and Walker can pick up on that before it's too late for them.


  1. Again the inane think tax cuts need to be paid for...

    Reduced revenue is not replaced by more revenue, it is replaced by less spending. The reason our government is in debt is because of OVER spending not less revenue. If elected officials continue to spend more than what is available the spiral continues.

    Until people begin to understand you can't grow society by taking money from those that produce, nothing will change.

  2. I'm not sure you will take this well, but unions aren't as popular as they were 20 years ago. They've become a political arm for the Democrat party, and as such, they have a big target on their backs.

    As of last year, only 9% of non-union workers wanted to join unions. More people will respect a politician that stands up to unions than make compromises with them.

  3. Anonymous,

    Again with the self-centeredness. Yes, you cut spending to balance the budget, especially if you are cutting revenue. But when you cut, someone will pay for it. Will you volunteer to tell grandma why she is cut off from aid? Or to tell the mother why her child won't be getting medical insurance? Or why the starving family will have to just starve?

    You talk about growing society, but you are diminishing it to a very primitive level.

  4. Aaron,

    I have repeatedly written that it is a common political ploy to run against the unions. It's easy to demonize them when times are tough. But now the unions have been greatly weakened, especially in the private sector. Not coincidentally, the middle class has also been greatly weakened, with the vast majority of them moving into the poverty levels.

    Politicians lose credibility when they favor the rich who helped create the current fiscal crisis.

  5. No capper when you cut there is nobody that is paying for still don't get it.

    It has nothing to do with scaring grandma, telling people police and fireman will be fired, PRETENDING children and families will starve. It is about spending resources wisely and prudently.

    Things like spending over a million dollars on a squirrel bridge in these times of economic turmoil is wasteful; do you want me to tell the squirrel not to cross the road? BTW who is going to train the squirrel to use the bride and not the road?.

    Growing a society is not done by borrowing against the future tax dollars of children who have yet finished elementary school. When will you reach the level to say hold on, we are spending too much?

  6. I can see your argument about the squirrel bridge (BTW, the squirrels would tend to use it naturally, just like the pipes they build for the frogs and turtles in many areas).

    But isn't it a little late to be complaining about spending our children's money? Where were you the past eight years?

  7. The past 30 years I have complained about wasteful spending. I have also complained that the two party system is the root of most political upheaval and term limits should be in place for all elected and appointed positions.

    My consistency overshadows your inability to understand basic economics; if you don't have it don't spend it. If you NEED it pay for it. If you WANT it save for it.

  8. Well, that claim would be a little hard to verify now, wouldn't it, my anonymous friend?

  9. Well unlike you capper, I don't stretch the truth, make up pretend facts, or deliver false premises.

  10. Again, that would be hard to verify, wouldn't it?

  11. No very easy to verify your I said.

  12. We aren't talking about my record, we are talking about your boasts on your records. Nice try to change the subject.

  13. I never changed the again 25 June 10:30 am. You are the one that brought me into it, by changing the topic on 23 Jun 9:50pm.

    As always complaining others doing something or saying something you just did.

  14. At 9:37 AM on June 24 you brag of your alleged stances. You do it again at 10:30 AM on 6/25.

    Then you change it to my record, key word being change.

    Then you accuse me of doing it. You must work for Walker.

  15. MY response about myself was because you brought it up, so I responded to you...duh.

    This of course is another great example of you side stepping issues after being shown wrong.