Monday, September 20, 2010

Time To Face Facts

In states from Washington to California, Nebraska to Michigan, and Virginia to Florida, state governments are beginning to ramp up their 2011 budget plans and projections.

It's a topic on which we've been ringing the warning bells for a very long time now.

The way that some lawmakers want to go after cutting budgets is nearly dhabihah: a traditional Muslim method of killing animals for consumption that's sometimes considered cruel by Western standards. We're fairly certain some of the same politicians pandering to the far right would have an apoplectic fit if they discovered the budget cutting method they're promoting also conforms with Sharia law.

Political fits and hyperbole aside, the facts are quite simple and remain as we've said they have been for some time. Even if we simply continued to fund every government project at the same percentages we are now, more actual dollars would be needed.

We're not going to say that no cuts in services should be made. Certain cuts are, in fact, called for - and should have been made some time ago. An example would be tax cuts in Nebraska that were created on the premise the state had extra money at one time to dole out. If the state ever had money like that, it's long gone - and the tax cuts that can no longer be afforded should go with them. We have no problem with tax cuts, just so long as such cuts generate jobs and revenue here at home. If the money is merely going to be squirreled away by those who already have more than enough, such tax reductions are as wasteful as burning dollar bills for heat.

The plain fact is that more revenue also needs to be generated by government agencies at most levels - and it needs to be generated from those who have money to spend.

During some of the most productive and economically stout periods of the last century - specifically, the post-World War II period from 1945 until the 1960's and 70's - the Federal marginal tax rate (the rate of taxes paid on amounts of incomes above a certain level) was nearly double what it is now. Many state and local tax rates were also significantly higher than they are now. Those tax rates weren't just a higher level of taxes paid by the wealthy; they represented a significant investment by the public in their own infrastructure - and the future we now occupy.

People will get the things they feel they need one way or another. Whether they take what they need by force through higher levels of crime and violence, or they receive what they need through opportunities created by combined public and private investment in America; that is up to the citizens of each state and local area. This is the same argument that our elders faced during the Great Depression - and they wisely chose to invest in America.

We apppeal to sane partisans on both sides of the political divide to take that same past wisdom into account when facing the budget decisions they're beginning to make now.

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