Sunday, March 30, 2008
Let the Bad Times Roll
Good times and bad times, as we all know, are determined by state budget crunchers.
A good time is one in which the state – here defined as state legislators, mostly Democrats – are wallowing in surpluses. A surplus is an excess of treasury money, here defined as the amount of money that legislators have overtaxed the citizenry.
In good times, these overcharges are not returned to taxpayers. They are sometimes used to pay off debts incurred by legislators, mostly Democrats, who have not kept up payments on their obligations. To pick but one example, state teacher pensions are languishing because the state has used surpluses for purposes other than to meet its obligations to teachers. The state has not used its surpluses to pay off bonding debt because legislators know that they can fool most of the people all of the time into thinking that state bonding does not create debt. In fact, bonding creates debt – but, as we have seen, no obligation to pay it off – and overspending also creates debt because it boosts costs.
A bad time is one in which the state -- here defined as state legislators, mostly Democrats – must make a pretense that they are cutting costs. There is but one way to cut costs, and that is by cutting spending.
The cost of government, as we all know, has risen precipitously since the state instituted a state income tax at the beginning of the Weicker administration. The last pre-income tax budget was, in round numbers, about $7.5 billion. The current budget bottom line is more than $15 billion, a 50% increase, not counting proportional increases in Connecticut’s bonding package, its so-called “credit card.”
This year, having fallen on bad times – a recession is looming – state legislators, mostly Democrats, have decided to put forward what they call a “no frills budget.” The legislature, mostly Democrats, has determined, among other things, to cut costs by reneging on an agreement with the governor to provide a tax cut to state businesses, an unnecessary frill.
The legislature, mostly Democrats, also will reduce expenditures by giving less money to outside contractors, another frill. An outside contractor is a group of people who provide a service to the state at what some people, mostly non-unionized folk, would consider a reduced cost. The Democrat idea is to transfer such jobs to union workers at what some people, non-union workers mostly, would consider an increased cost, a penny wise pond foolish piece of mischief.
During good times, you eat out the wealth of citizens through over taxation; during bad times, you advance a “no frills” spending plan. A no frills budget is one that does not spend the overcharged surplus, largely because there is no overcharged surplus. It’s the Democrat way.
And why is there no surplus, no overcharge? There are two reasons. First, the surplus has disappeared because it has been spent, the unhappy fate of all previous surpluses. This helps to explain how Connecticut has more than doubled its budget within the administrations of three governors. You spend the surpluses, the cost of government rises proportionally and, once the wheels of government are caught in a recession, the surplus disappears. Now that bad times are rolling in and we have a recession, it’s time to cut any proposed tax cuts.
The Democrat method may be reduced to the following proposition: “You cannot cut taxes when the state reaps surpluses; and you cannot cut taxes, to spur business activity, when the state enters a recessionary period – ergo, you may never cut taxes.”
Apart from the hot air of spendthrift politicians and their bankrupted enablers in the mainstream media, a tax is the only thing that goes up and never comes down. That is because in the most heavily taxed state in the union, a dubious “first,” spending unvaryingly goes up and never comes down.
Operating in the legislature under the regime of reality deniers is a little bit like living in Prospero’s castle in the Edgar Allen Poe story “The Masque of the Red Death.” Inside the castle, life goes merrily forward while, in the countryside outside the castle, a plague menaces the people. One day a stranger penetrates the castle, life suddenly becomes serious, and the fun stops