Berry: Issue 2 and Government Deficits: Who’s to Blame?Written by Thomas Berry | | email@example.com
Opponents to Issue 2 are trying to assign blame for the state’s budget problems. From the We Are (Not) Ohio website, http://action.weareohio.com/page/s/issue2primer, under the screamer headline “HURTS US ALL”:
- “Instead of creating jobs to fix our economy, politicians like Gov. Kasich gave away hundreds of millions in corporate tax breaks—draining our state budget without creating jobs—and passed flawed laws like SB 5 to pay back their campaign donors.
- “Teachers, nurses, firefighters are not the reason Ohio’s budget is in trouble. Big corporations, their high-paid lobbyists and the politicians they fund are blaming middle class Ohioans for a problem they caused.”
The history of politicians doing themselves and their backers favors while shafting everyone else is long and rich, although calling SB5 an example of this is quite a stretch. Given how the growing scandals involving Obama backers who were enriched by the Porkulus bill are illustrating them, the claims quoted above look credible. “Just like the politicians to do that,” you say, so you vote no.
Not so fast.
The politicians are indeed to blame for the deficit, but not because of tax cuts, handouts or any such thing. They are to blame for reckless spending. Quoting a Buckeye Institute report athttp://buckeyeinstitute.org/the-liberty-wall/2011/03/01/new-report-six-principles-for-fixing-ohio/:
Over the last 19 years, Ohio’s budget outpaced inflation by 41 percent even after adjusting for population growth plus inflation. If spending had been restrained to inflation plus population growth, Ohio would have a substantial budget surplus.
In other words, politicians create deficits. No one with any sense is blaming “teachers, nurses, firefighters” (sic) for government budget woes. No public worker at any level gets a dime, be it for inflated salaries, lavish benefits or rich pensions taken at early retirement, without the politicians’ approval. Some spending is mandatory, either to fulfill constitutional responsibilities or because of unfunded federal mandates. Much is discretionary. But a sizable chunk is handouts, not to corporate benefactors, but to public employees who vote to keep the gravy train rolling.
We Are (Not) Ohio decries the lack of jobs in the state. So do I. But it is not the role of the government to create jobs. Indeed: The only jobs the government creates are public employee jobs. This suits the public employee unions just fine, but the rest of us pay for them. Private sector employers are the real job creators, but to do so in Ohio they must bear several burdens: High taxes (in part to pay public employees), high utility costs, high regulation, and high labor costs. The unions can thank themselves for that last, and the progressives they keep electing for most of the rest.
When an evil corporation, to borrow We Are (Not) Ohio’s imagery, can choose between hiring where costs of doing business are higher as opposed to lower, the latter is the only rational choice. Consequently, the land of higher costs has fewer good-paying jobs, and fewer employers making a good profit. As jobs and profits decline, so does taxable revenue; but the politicians continue to spend beyond those revenues, thus creating deficits.
Taxes on high earners can be raised through the roof on the pretext of increasing revenues; but if there are fewer people and, especially, businesses at those earning levels, nothing is gained. Indeed, harm is done because less money will be available in the private sector for job creation and spending.
Thus, politicians, rather than public sector employees, are responsible for deficits because they fail to encourage economic conditions favorable to creation of increased taxable revenue on the one hand, and to limit spending to revenues collected on the other.
We Are (Not) Ohio is marvelously disingenuous in blaming “big corporations” and their lobbyists. It is exactly what it condemns. Over half of its funds come from Big Labor lobbyists – the AFL-CIO, Communication Workers of America, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), all based in Washington, aka Lobbyland.
AFSCME and, through affiliation, the AFL-CIO have a legitimate dog in the fight. I can understand why they don’t want well-paid public employee members to give up anything. But Big Labor, which represents only 13.7% of Ohio workers, is most certainly not Ohio when it wants to protect those glorious perks at the expense of the other 86.3% of us. Even its own members outside AFSCME have to pay for the inflated public sector benefits handed out by the politicians.
Continued irresponsible spending at all levels of government is what truly, in We Are (Not) Ohio’s words, “hurts us all.” Issue 2 is an effort to enforce a semblance of responsibility.
I am Ohio, and so is every Ohioan who favors Issue 2.
Thomas Berry, for the Children of Liberty, http://www.meetup.com/The-children-of-liberty/.