Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Tax and Spend Liberals? I don't think so...

AP via Dayton Daily News via The Agonist:
The Congressional Budget Office now expects this year's federal deficit to exceed $400 billion, shattering the previous record even as President Bush and lawmakers consider creating expensive new prescription drug benefits for Medicare recipients. The largest budget gap ever was the $290 billion in red ink produced in 1992.

A $400 billion deficit would be nearly 4 percent the size of the U.S. economy. Many economists consider that to be a significant measure of the government's ability to afford its red ink. As the condition of the budget worsened in the 1980s and early 1990s, there were seven annual federal deficits that were at least that large compared to the economy.

In recent months, Republicans who for years decried federal imbalances have minimized their significance, arguing that they were manageable in an economy whose size exceeds $10 trillion.

So, like most Maplewoodians, you probably think about blaming the property-tax mess on Vic DeLuca and Jerry Ryan ... or even, in your more lucid moments, on Christie Whitman. Think again.

In this past Sunday's New York Times Magazine*, there's an article called Drip, Drip, Drip. Its subtitle tells the tale:
Cut federal taxes and it's the governor's' problem. Cut state taxes and it's the mayors' problem. One way or another, the tax burden is what's really trickling down.

For Jim Doyle, it's a day like any other. In the morning, Wisconsin's new governor arrives at the Madison Concourse Hotel, where he informs drug makers that unless Washington comes through with a prescription drug plan, the state is going to have to force them to lower prices. Then he walks down the hall to the A.F.L.-C.I.O. convention, where he explains why almost 3,000 state jobs are going to be cut. A few hours later, he holds a news conference at a Milwaukee school to plead for more special-education financing from Washington.

''Everybody gets bad news,'' Doyle tells me wearily as he inhales a McDonald's fajita on the way back to the capital. His state is in financial free fall -- it's short about $3.2 billion -- and no one in Washington seems to care.

''Whatever the theory is behind trickle-down economics, I don't think people are seeing it here,'' Doyle says. ''You watch these school districts struggle mightily with their budgets, and you think that if even a small part of these tax cuts were going instead toward helping education in this country. . . . '' His voice trails off, and he turns up his hands in surrender.

While you're looking at the NY Times mag, check out Mapleberry resident and all around good guy Dirk Olin's article Prospect Theory, part of his somewhat regular Sunday Times series called "Crash Course."

*Obligatory "New York Times free online subscription required" statement.

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