Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Republicans' Draconian Budget Plans Spell Disaster For States

Republicans' plans for states coming under their rule promise to worsen struggling economies. They aim to cut public employment, increasing the ranks of the jobless. Their focus is on cutting the deficit, something that should come only after adequate economic stimulation (which we did not get the first time) has had a chance to work. They refuse to boost government revenue through raising taxes on the wealthy. Drastic cuts in education will make it more difficult for students to attend college. They want to block financing of the health care bill, even though the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will reduce the federal deficit by $138 billion over a decade. Consider what the GOP has in mind in states where they are assuming power:

Republicans who have taken over state capitols across the country are promising to respond to crippling budget deficits with an array of cuts, among them proposals to reduce public workers’ benefits in Wisconsin, scale back social services in Maine and sell off state liquor stores in Pennsylvania, endangering the jobs of thousands of state workers.

...State workers, education leaders and social service agencies are bracing. Since last week, some have met in various states to prepare counterattacks against what Terry W. Hartle, of the American Council of Education, which represents leaders of colleges and universities, described as the “eye-popping” level of “draconian” cuts it would take to balance some state budgets without new revenues.

...Some Democrats, like B. Patrick Bauer, the departing speaker of the Indiana House, say they fear what some of the proposals — like ones in Indiana to cut unemployment benefits, create an automatic refund mechanism for taxpayers if state reserves reach a certain level, and shrink the size of government — may ultimately mean for poor people, working people and sick people. “They ought to all be worried,” Mr. Bauer said.

...In many of these states, the new federal health care program is now certain to face new efforts to slow or stop it. Some of the newly elected governors have suggested joining a lawsuit, already supported by leaders of other states, opposing it.

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