Tuesday, 01 March 2011 17:59
Wisconsin Shows US, State Politicians Laboring Over House Of Cards
Written by 

Lawrence ChehardyThe budget deficit in Washington is legendary.  Nearly $15 trillion in debt and still climbing.  What has alarmed many Americans is they have now discovered the poor fiscal shape that the states are in.  And unlike the federal government, the states cannot print money.

States are victims as much as they are perpetrators.  When times are good, states like to spend money.  And why not?  It’s popular back home, and it helps with reelection.  The problem is rosy revenue projections by the state that often turn sour.  In addition the downturn in the national economy, thanks to bad fiscal policy by the federal government has caused state and local government revenues to drop sharply.  Sales tax collections are down and property tax collections due to lower property values have also decreased.  And that is why so many states and local governments are in a fiscal crisis too.

Take a look at Wisconsin. A projected deficit of $137 million for the remainder of this year, and a deficit of $3.6 billion over the next two years.  Substantial.  And real.  Governor Scott Walker (R) has proposed balancing the budget by stripping most of the states’ 170,000 public employees of some of their collective bargaining rights.  A very unpopular move among union members as well as non-union workers.

The issue is not benefit cuts.  The issue is affordability.  Can the state of Wisconsin and its local governments and counties afford to pay the bills it has obligated itself to pay to union workers?  Government never should have agreed to pay such exorbitant benefits.  The governor says it cannot.  Wisconsin Democrats say yes.  What are citizens and voters to think if their elected leaders are playing politics with such an important issue?

Government is just like any household or business.  If it spends more than it makes, it will go broke.  Economists talk about leading economic indicators and other fancy statistics such as GDP, CPI, FCI, and PPI; but this is not complicated stuff.  If expenses exceed income the house of cards will tumble down.  Period.  End of story.  And impressive sounding statistics don’t make the outcome any different.

Such is the case of the federal government.  A deficit of nearly $15 trillion and it seems that President Obama and most Democrats don’t think it’s a problem.  Republicans have put forth plans to reduce the deficit and certainly have the votes in the House of Representatives to pass it.  But the Senate is different where Democrats hold the upper hand.   Today the House passed and sent to the Senate a short-term spending bill with $4 billion in cuts.  Let’s see what happens.

In Wisconsin it’s the same thing, yet different.  Although Republicans control both houses of the legislature, Democrats in the Senate hold the upper hand because they can deny that body a quorum to do business.  And with that power the Wisconsin Senate Democrats have skipped town, indeed the state, to deny the upper chamber a quorum and the ability to debate and vote on Gov. Walker’s plan to bring state spending under control.  It’s hard for Democrats to urge their own plan when they won’t show up for work.

Every American should be disturbed by those legislators who have shirked their duty and left the state of Wisconsin and brought democracy to a halt.  This tactic could easily give members of other legislatures the same idea.  But Americans should be more bothered by the lack or sense of urgency that deficit spending receives in most cases from the very people who brought us the deficits to begin with.  And maybe that is the real problem.  The people who don’t know how to properly budget taxpayer money are now the ones who are required to straighten out the mess they created.  If they couldn’t spend it right in the beginning what confidence should we have that they will spend it responsibly in the future?

We are at a cross roads that if not addressed quickly could result in serious economic problems for this country.  Rapid inflation.  The shrinking dollar.  Huge trade imbalances.  And the inability to pay the interest on our outstanding debt.  Indeed the ability of the federal government to retire its debt could be in jeopardy.  Imagine paying your house note and never paying it off even after thirty years.

Both the federal government and the states must tackle the issue of deficit spending and realistic balanced budgets.  No longer should the federal government spend more than it takes in.  No more should states paint rosy fiscal projections that don’t make sense.  If the money isn’t there, it should not be spent.

Instead, voters must insist that politicians spend taxpayer money wisely, conservatively, and smart.  The old days of buying votes with new bridges, new highways, and new monuments to politicians are over.  We cannot afford it.  It’s making us broke.

 More columns by Lawrence Chehardy

   Louisiana Elections On, Jindal's Race Is His To Lose

Obama's Budget DOA: Democrats, GOP Must Get Serious About Deficit 

 Obama, Congress Should Serious About Budget Deficit Reduction

Visit  Chehardy's Website

About Lawrence Chehardy

For thirty-four years Lawrence Chehardy served as Assessor of Jefferson Parish and throughout his career has been a champion the maintenance of the Homestead Exemption.  During his years as Assessor Lawrence Chehardy served as President, Vice-president, and Treasure of the Louisiana Assessors’ Association. He also served on numerous boards and committees of the association. 

Chehardy has extensive knowledge of politics, political campaigning, and the political process. When it comes to political strategy and creating the campaign’s message, Lawrence is one of the best. Lawrence Chehardy has been instrumental in the election of numerous candidates through endorsements as well as campaign strategy. In many cases his endorsement turned the election in favor of those candidates.

In addition to his political commentary and public speaking engagements, Lawrence Chehardy is a founding member of the Chehardy, Sherman, Ellis, Murray, Recile, Griffith, Stakelum & Hayes Law Firm and serves as its managing partner.

Read more of his bio

Login to post comments
  • Cat Fights on the Hot Cement Confederate New Orleans statues
  • Ex-Saints, Bears, Bills, NFL Exec, Jim W. Miller discusses NFL Draft tomorrow
  • Trump's new plan; Curtains on tax returns release; 40% say Trump-Russia; Probing Obama admin
  • Watch Louisiana Governor Edwards talk about CAT Tax failure

catRarely, have I seen few issues that have generated as much raw heat, tension, and passion than the Confederate monuments controversy. 

Just as existed during the real civil war, where brothers battled brothers, social media is the battleground, particularly Facebook, pitting friend against friend.

On one side of the tense divide, there are those who are protecting the New Orleans civil war era monuments.  Burnt in effigy, forever, is the symbol of Mayor Mitch Landrieu for up-ending what the monument protectors consider to be the loving civil society of New Orleans.

Lately, events have turned somewhat militaristic.

Some protectors of the Confederate monuments have been staying vigilant, in person and online, even surveilling during the wee hours of the morning, waiting for the next Mayor Landrieu attack. On Sunday morning, with protections of snipers, masked workers and a dumbstruck audience, the worst of all of the monuments was cut and carried., the Liberty Monument. 

Read More

miller nfl live2 5It’s D-Day or Draft Day tomorrow in the NFL.

More specifically, Thursday represents the first day of the NFL draft 2017.

Read More

 

trump curtainsThe major President Trump news of the day focuses upon taxes, not only the tax cuts he is proposing but his own taxes, which he obviously, refuses to unveil.

 

Read More

edwards play money 1

At a press conference today, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said the CAT Tax did not pass the House Ways and Means Committee.  The Governor, in addressing the media said that "the fate of that bill was decided long before we unveiled it".

Read More

latter-blum2

Sen. Appel talks budget, economy

TRUMP TALK

Dead Pelican

Optimized-DeadPelican2 1 1