Did Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker CAUSE the deficits he is gnashing his teeth about?

I keep seeing comments on news stories and other forums that, while Wisconsin is $137M in debt, Governor Scott Walker actually gave away $140M shortly after taking office, to lobbyists and the corporate backers who supported his election. Are we really at a point where shenanigans of this level are going on right underneath our noses and the mainstream media is completely ignoring it, or is this just a baseless counterattack?

Where did you get that number from? 137 million dollars would be nothing, given the level of public debt virtually any modern state or nation is burdened with. This website estimates Wisconsin’s public debt at about 44 billion dollars. Maybe the 137 million dollar figure refers to a recently discovered uncovered budget deficit or whatever.

Well, you are aware of the fact that American governors are not in full control over their states’ finances? It’s always the legislature that needs to approve the budget, and without an authorisation from the legislature no expenses may be incurred by the executive.

Well, the “lobbyists and corporate backers” bit is probably more of a Great Debate thing. But the budget was in surplus until he called an extra legislative session once he gained the governors mansion and passed several tax cuts that are the primary cause of the current deficit.

The Governor made the problem shortly after entering office.

Note the source the author cites in that article is the Fiscal Bureau which is Wisconsin’s equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office.

It appears that debt clock refers to Wisconsin’s share of the federal debt and not the state’s own internal debt. Wisconsin’s actual state debt is around $3 billion.

I read (on the Dope, must be true) that the New York Times has an editorial saying Walker caused it. Haven’t read it yet, though.

Here is that editorial from the New York Times. The relevant paragraph is, “Meanwhile, the governor is refusing to accept his own share of responsibility for the state’s projected $137 million shortfall. Just last month, he and the Legislature gave away $117 million in tax breaks, mostly for businesses that expand and for private health savings accounts. That was a choice lawmakers made, and had it not been for those decisions and a few others, according to the state’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the state would have had a surplus.”

The current brouhaha isn’t about any kind of budget deficit at all, except on the face of it. It’s about attaining something that has been a GOP goal for decades: making collective bargaining illegal, removing unions as any kind of political force in opposition to business, and taking those goshdarn smug government employees down a peg or three.

It’s just a matter of perspective. A decrease in a tax deduction is a tax increase from one perspective and isn’t from another perspective.

If you are in favor of smaller government, then “causing” the state to lower spending by lowering taxes is a good thing–this idea is usually called the “starve the beast” idea.

So, yes, he may have “caused” the deficits, but it doesn’t mean he did anything wrong necessarily.

Even if one does regard smaller government as a worthy goal, doesn’t it make more sense to cut the taxes and the spending as part of the same package, rather than voluntarily cutting the taxes first and then wailing and gnashing your teeth about how you have absolutely no choice but to cut spending?

I don’t see why doing both as part of the same package would always “make more sense.” That’s not how legislation gets done. You build a coalition for one thing and then build another one for another thing. It’s not just a matter of getting everything done you want to do at one time.

And if it would “make more sense”–so what? Why is any government required to do something that you thinks “makes more sense” than something else? I mean, if you have a policy argument why the two things should only be done as part of the same package, then let’s hear it.

It would seem that the choices of the current governor have led to a “civil war” of sorts between political factions in the state of Wisconsin, with work shutdowns and temporary halts in education and other public services. That’s one good argument against this way of doing things.

Some teachers marching in Madison does not a “civil war” make. And you think they would have been fine with this exact bill if it would have been coupled with (instead of preceded by) a bill to cut taxes? That seems like a highly dubious claim to me.

Rachel Maddow makes the point that the unions targeted by the proposed legislation are the ones that supported the Democratic candidate for government and the ones that are exempted from the legislation are the ones that supported Walker.

Therefore, she sees this whole mess as an attempt by Walker to make it impossible for a Democrat to get elected in the future.

If one were actually fiscally responsible, instead of paying lip service, common sense says that you treat this like an accounting exercise. Eg, if you’re going to cut taxes, then you should also cut expenses to match. By the same token, if there is a net new spending program that is “needed”, then you also need to show how to pay for it.

I don’t buy that it’s responsible to do one or the other. It’s like deciding you’ve maxed out the credit cards, so the thing to do is to reduce what you pay the credit card company.

So much for Rand Rover pretending that he’s in favor of fiscal responsibility.

Long ago I worked at a company that was saved from bankrupcy by hiring an executive who stuck to this simple principle:

All of these stupid political financial debates are based on ignoring the basic factor:

Attributing responsibility to one party or the other is stupid so long as the solution never includes raising taxes to match the expenditures. Every executive, legistlature, voter, and consumer of tax dollars is responsible for the debt problems.

Anyway, this belongs in GD, because the real question is, which is the better way to balance a government budget, spending less, or raising revenue. And there is no answer to that question. You might as well ask a company if they are better off raising prices or lowering costs. And it will depend on the product and the market, not some idiot-ology.

??? Whatever gave you the idea that I was in favor of “fiscal responsibility”?

I am a fiscal conservative, which means I want the government to do the absolute minimum–I want a small government. I often see the term “fiscal responsibility” used to mean that the government shouldn’t run deficits–that it should take in as much as it spends each year. I don’t really give a rat’s about fiscal responsibility–I care about the absolute level of government. If the government is doing only what I think it should do, then I’m fine with it running a deficit if necessary.

Thanks for the definition of a fiscal conservative Rand. Someone who will spend any amount of other people’s money as long as it’s for something they like. I can’t imagine how we ended up in this mess with the fiscal conservatives in charge.

As a Madison teacher (and a fiscal conservative), I’d just like to point out that it’s not about the money, it’s about losing all rights to any future negotiating.

In fact, the unions just agreed to ALL of Gov. Walker’s demands except losing collective bargaining. Which he won’t budge on… so this proves it’s not about the money for him, either.